- The Monk’s Haggadah: A Fifteenth-Century Illuminated Codex from the Monastery of Tegernsee with a Prologue by Friar Erhard Von Pappenheim ed. by David Stern, Christopher Markschies, Sarit Shalev-Eyni
This is the most fascinating book that I have been privileged to review. In the first chapter Stern introduces the codex as the product of collaborations both medieval and contemporary—indeed, it is. Stern was drawn to this codex on a microfilm by its Latin preface and occasional marginalia in what appeared to be a typical fifteenth-century Italo-Ashkenazi haggadah by an accomplished Jewish calligrapher. He then describes subsequent discoveries of its complex history with Christian scholar Markschies and art historian Shalev-Eyni.
Convincing evidence identified Dominican Friar Erhard Von Pappenheim as the author of the Latin preface and the translator of the proceedings of an infamous “blood libel” trial of Jews at Trent in 1475. Another record indicated that the Haggadah was a bequest to the Monastery of Tegernsee by the Rev. Paulus Wann from Passau, whose abbot Konrad Ayrimschmalz commissioned Erhard to clarify its contents. Chapters 2–4 explain the distinctive features of the codex, while the fifth chapter describes the manuscript. After the Latin Prologue and its English translation, a full-color reproduction of the Haggada (in Codex Hebrew 200) follows.
In “The Making of the Codex,” (chap. 2), Shalev-Eyni claims it is “truly a unique work, different from every other haggadah known to scholars” (p. 19). She considers it the work of a master calligrapher with occasional Hebrew errors (some corrected by Erhard); three other hands completed the vocalizations. Although the illuminations appear similar to Italo-Ashkenazi fifteenth-century haggadahs, here many are Christianized. Some are subtle hand gestures mimicking priestly rubrics during Mass or blessings; others became very obvious once the Christian orientation was recognized. E.g., near the center of the text many illuminate Dt. 26:8 in light of 1 Chron. 21:16 with a hand and pointed sword. In this codex a sword with a handle forming a cross is raised by a figure that is similar to images of Christ’s resurrection or the last judgment. These illuminations turn the text into a Christian interpretation that links the eucharist with the seder—a prominent understanding of Christian theologians among fifteenth-century Viennese scholars, including both Friar Erhard and Wann and others at Tegernsee—hence, the title, “The Monk’s Haggadah.”
In the third chapter Markschies describes the theological premises in Erhard’s prologue. In the fourth, Stern describes Erhard’s Hebraist background. [End Page 616] Both consider him to be learned, a master of Hebrew and Latin, a Christian Hebraist with an exceptional knowledge of seder practices, although deeply anti-Judaic. Erhard’s prologue repeats details of the blood libel from the confession of Jews tortured at Trent. These include the idea that six unleavened cakes are made with the blood of a Christian child, as well as the practice of adding drops of that blood to the wine at the seder and that the leader will say, “This is the blood of a Christian child.” Erhard and many others were convinced that the seder of their time was the same as the meals in which Jesus participated and that the Mass was drawn from those practices. The publication is a magnificent example of scholarly research.