The ‘Pictures’ of Jerusalem in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 156

Mary Carruthers

in Imagining Jerusalem in the Medieval West

Published by British Academy

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780197265048
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754159 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

The ‘Pictures’ of Jerusalem in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 156

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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Imagining structures from the ekphrastic descriptions of the Jerusalem Temple and Temple Mount in I Kings and Ezekiel is an ancient meditation discipline, which was adopted from Jewish practices into early Christian monasticism. Though it could take various forms, ‘imagining/remembering Jerusalem’ was often practised as a devotional exercise throughout the European Middle Ages. Drawings of such an imagined character are significant to late medieval exegesis of these and related scriptural materials, particularly those associated with the commentaries of Nicholas of Lyra and the collection of visual meditations known as the Speculum theologie. This chapter queries a late medieval illuminated manuscript (Bodleian Library MS Laud Misc. 156) that, in the fifteenth century, formed part of the library of St John's Hospital in Exeter, to suggest that its materials were acquired and used for scriptural study and sermon composition by scholars of the hospital and its associated school.

Keywords: illuminated manuscript; devotional exercise; ekphrasis; Book of Ezekiel; Nicholas of Lyra; exegesis; Speculum theologie; Laud Misc. 156; medieval library; Exeter

Chapter.  10971 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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