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The End of Things: Reading Exegetical Apocalypticism in the Prefatory Miniatures of Private Female Ottonian Manuscripts


The Bamberg Commentaries (Msc. Bibl 22) and the Isaiah Commentary (Msc. Bibl 76) were created circa one thousand C.E. These manuscripts are composed of several textual elements including two commentaries by English theologian and Doctor of the Church, Bede and two commentaries by the Church Father Jerome. The commentaries are on the Song of Songs, Proverbs, the Book of Daniel, and Isaiah. Full-page prefatory miniatures presented on facing folios precede three of the four commentaries. They are similar in both size and style, leading some scholars to believe that they were created as a set. This belief is further strengthened by the strong thematic connections between the manuscripts regarding their biblical text, exegetical commentary, and new visual commentary. Together these manuscripts work as a single unit to describe the best way to negotiate the end of times, and ensure your soul’s place in heaven.

The first chapter of this thesis is a technical introduction to the manuscripts. This chapter argues that these two manuscripts should be read as a single unit. In order to properly detail this connection both a historiographic introduction and an introduction to the manuscripts themselves are provided. The second chapter dives deep into the relationship between the exegetical text and the images. In the conclusion, the case is made for Otto III’s eldest sister and the Abbess of Gandersheim Sophia I as the original intended audience.

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