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Conteynynge Thirty and Eight Wodecuttes Illustrating the Liif, Parablis, and Miraclis Offe Oure Blessid Lord & Saviour Jhesus Crist, With Proper Descrypciouns Therof Extracted fro the Originall Texte Offe Iohn Wiclif…

“The Bible of the Poor.” A 19th century homage to block book printed picture Bibles of the Middle Ages. The “Biblia Pauperum” was intended to portray the books of the Bible primarily through illustration.This edition was printed for America by Unwin Brothers, of London, England. The printer's note remarks that the woodcuts in this work are “German, possibly from Nuremberg, of the 15th century. They have not been found in any other text of the period and are published for the first time here.” It was later found that the series of woodcuts had been forged and they were actually reproductions.

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This panel of illustrations is interesting. The accompanying text is from Mark 9:17-29, which details the healing of the boy who was possessed by demons and couldn’t speak, which relates well to the illustration in the bottom right panel. The other panels don’t seem to directly relate to that biblical passage. What we see here seems to be a sort of simple representation of Christ’s various types of miracles; each conveying the character of Jesus using visual cues. The figure of Jesus is depicted in all four panels with a solid, crown-like halo. In the top left he raises both hands, palms down, above the head of a kneeling figure. The figure below him raises his hands. It seems to represent Christ as a healer. The scene of the next panel isn't completely clear either. Looking at the most obvious clues, the plate of fish and the bread on the table, this could represent one of the accounts of Jesus feeding the multitudes. The panel on the bottom left shows Jesus with two figures, one is holding onto Jesus’ shoulder. Jesus seems to lift his robe to show them his bare feet. This may refer to the anointing of Christ’s feet by Mary of Bethany in the house of Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.

Lastly, we see the figure of Jesus in a crowd. His hand is laid upon the head of a boy, who kneels before him with raised hands. Above the crowd of figures, three figures with mythical forms float through the sky. One seems to be exiting from another figure’s mouth. It is clear that the scene is representing an exorcism.


Artwork in the public domain