The Monks Haggadah

A Fifteenth-Century Illuminated Codex from the Monastery of Tegernsee, with a prologue by Friar Erhard von Pappenheim

Edited by David Stern, Christoph Markschies, Sarit Shalev-Eyni

Hardback - £63.95

Publication date:

06 February 2015

Length of book:

296 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271063997

In 1489, a magnificent illustrated Passover Haggadah was sent as a bequest to the Monastery of Saint Quirinus at Tegernsee in southern Germany. Shortly afterwards, the monastery’s librarian sent the book to a Dominican friar named Erhard von Pappenheim, a Hebraist and expert on Jewish practice, and asked him to write a prologue. In response, Erhard wrote a remarkable treatise that is arguably the earliest quasi-ethnographic account of Jewish practice in early modern Europe and an extraordinary window onto a fifteenth-century Christian’s perception of Jews and Judaism. The Monk’s Haggadah brings together a facsimile edition of the codex in color, a critical edition of the Latin text of Erhard’s prologue, an English translation of the Latin text, and a translation of the Hebrew text of the Haggadah. Additionally, the volume’s editors provide historical context, explore the codicology, illustration, and patronage of the volume, and describe its Christian theological background. An absolutely unique document, this Haggadah stands to change many long-held conceptions about Jewish-Christian relations in the late Middle Ages and early modernity.

“This book wonderfully proves the value of collaborative research. The introduction describes how this collaboration came about and is by itself a little masterpiece. Like a detective story, it chronicles how the researchers gradually came to recognize that the Haggadah and its Latin—and very Christian—preface constitute one of the most remarkable testimonies in both image and word of the complex character of Jewish-Christian relations in the fifteenth century. Yet the manuscript, even after the collaborators’ fascinating findings, remains enigmatic and indeed mysterious. This is simply an extraordinary book about an extraordinary artifact.”

—William Jordan, Princeton University