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The context and reception history of the illuminations in Nicholas of Lyra's Postilla Litteralis Super Totam Bibliam:fifteenth-century case studies

Bromberg, Sarah (2013) The context and reception history of the illuminations in Nicholas of Lyra's Postilla Litteralis Super Totam Bibliam:fifteenth-century case studies. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation traces the reception history of the Latin biblical commentary, the Postilla litteralis super totam bibliam (c.1333), originally written and illustrated by Nicholas of Lyra (1270-1349) in Paris. The Postilla was one of the most frequently copied texts during the later Middle Ages and Renaissance in Western and Central Europe, as evidenced by the approximately seven hundred extant manuscripts. The Postilla’s astounding popularity is often attributed to its thorough treatment of a fundamental issue in Christian thought: how to validate the authority and utility of Jewish exegetical traditions while asserting the truth of Christianity. Lyra compared Jewish and Christian biblical commentaries more comprehensively than any other previous Christian commentator and was the only scholar who designed diagrams to augment these comparisons. These comparative illustrations depicted Old Testament temple structures and their ritual objects.
My study of this manuscript tradition reveals that Lyra’s original images were dramatically altered in fifteenth-century copies, indicating that the reasons for the Postilla’s vast transmission had changed. My dissertation begins with an analysis of several early fourteenth-century French Postilla manuscripts to demonstrate how that they were prepared for scholarly audiences. I then present in-depth case studies of three fifteenth-century Postilla manuscripts that display startling ruptures in the Postilla tradition. I have chosen three luxurious copies produced and owned in Italy, Portugal, France and the Burgundian Netherlands. I utilize these particular manuscripts to document that fifteenth-century Postilla manuscript imagery camouflaged, obscured or even erased Nicholas of Lyra’s study of Jewish exegesis as well as his presentation of the differences between Jewish and Christian exegesis; the appearance of deviations in imagery is complicated by the fact that the text sometimes replicated Lyra’s original scholarly format whereas the picture diverged from the original. These case studies demonstrate that Postilla manuscripts were valued not only for their intellectual content, but also as status symbols, emblems of political power, luxury items, aesthetic objects and signifiers of piety. I also reveal how the text and imagery of Postilla manuscripts advances our knowledge regarding changes in Christian usage of Jewish biblical scholarship in the late middle ages.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Bromberg, Sarahsab36@pitt.eduSAB36
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairStones, M.
Committee MemberShear, Adamashear@pitt.eduASHEAR
Committee MemberSutherland Harris, Annash@pitt.eduASH
Committee MemberVenarde, Bruce L.bvenarde@pitt.eduBVENARDE
Committee MemberMcDermott,
Date: 25 January 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 30 April 2012
Approval Date: 25 January 2013
Submission Date: 10 November 2012
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 192
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History of Art and Architecture
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: nicholas of lyra
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2013 16:46
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:06


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