Illuminated Hebrew Bible

This Hebrew Bible from late medieval Spain was one of Enriqueta Rylands’s early manuscript purchases. She bought it from bookseller Bernard Quaritch in June 1892 for £36 (about £3000 today). 

The manuscript fitted with Rylands’s expanding interest in bibles and sacred texts from different religious traditions, including Judaism, Islam and Hinduism. Like other manuscripts Rylands bought, it is a medieval manuscript written on animal skin, beautifully decorated and illuminated in gold. It is, like Rylands, cosmopolitan: it contains French- and Italian-style decorations, and travelled to Greece and Amsterdam before coming to Manchester. 

This manuscript is also featured in the Marks of Time section of this exhibition. 

Hebrew Bible

Spain (?), early 14th century
Hebrew MS 36
Illuminated page from Hebrew MS 36

Gilded initial-word בראשית (“In the beginning”) on a blue painted panel with painted motifs in a gilded frame. 

Bookplate of "THE JOHN RYLANDS LIBRARY / 1894".

Back paste-down

Bookplate of the John Rylands Library, with Enriqueta Rylands’s coat of arms. The open book represents enlightenment, especially through reading the Bible.

Binding from the Tanakh, Hebrew MS 36


The binding is stamped ‘JR’, although John Rylands himself never saw the manuscript.