The Bible Moralisée

The term “Bible moralisée” (moralized Bible) has been given to a lavish type of picture Bible which was popular during the thirteenth century in Western Europe.  Several illuminated manuscript moralized Bibles have survived to the present, and Special Collections possesses facsimiles of a number of these manuscripts.

Moralized Bibles do not contain the full text of the Bible; rather, they present  illustrated scenes depicting episodes from the Bible which are accompanied by illustrations and texts explicating their moral and allegorical meanings.  The interpretation of Biblical episodes sometimes differs between Bibles.

Moralized Bibles are important not only as examples of medieval artwork and illustration techniques, but as sources for the study of medieval theology, religious practice, and religious symbolism.  Students who wish to examine these facsimile Bibles may visit Special Collections and request them in our reading room, Monday-Friday before 5 p.m.  To find copies of moralized Bible facsimiles in the library catalog, search for the subject term “picture bibles.”

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