Watery Illuminations

Hello all,

The last weeks have involved some pretty intense writing and a series of miscellaneous distractions thrown at me by life. The draft of chapter one is coming together nicely, and I hope to be finished by the end of February. This goal may or may not be a reasonable one, but at least it gives me some extra motivation.

I decided that today I would put up a few nice images that I found while trolling through the Bodeleian library digital repository of manuscript illuminations. There are related vaguely to my thesis, and some of them are very nice. I hope you enjoy them!

This one comes from MS. Tanner 184, and is an illumination of Revelation 22:1 – “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” This river flows from the source of mystical knowledge into the Heavenly Jerusalem, in which it flows through the streets, causing two trees to spring up on either side of the river. I like it because it shows  nicely the subject to object flow of divine essence i’ve been writing about.

This image comes from MS. Douce 313, and refers to the passage in John 4:14 that reads “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” I like how the faithful are all lined up to gulp down the waters of salvation offered to them by Christ. This picture also reminds me a lot of the rock of Horeb episode in Exodus.

Oh look, here he is! This image is from MS. Douce 211, and shows Moses striking the rock of Horeb in Exodus 17. “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.”

The image of the Israelites lost in the wilderness having their thirst quenched by a miracle was a common medieval topos, and I particularly like this example of it.

And a final image from a French Cistercian Psalter in the Besançon collection. It shows the baptism of Christ in the Jordan by John the Baptist in the book of Luke: “When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”

I like the Angel waiting to give Christ his tunic back, and the water is particularly vivid in this image.

Anyway, I hope that you enjoyed my little show and tell. I will post some new material when I feel like I have something interesting to discuss. I imagine that when I start my second chapter, there will be updates aplenty when I try and work out my ideas.

Best wishes to all!

James

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