Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.
– Ray Bradbury
The Bamberg Apocalypse, unknown folio, c. 1000-1020
The Bamberg Apocalypse was commissioned by Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, and created by the fine monks at Reichenau. In 2003, the manuscript was added to the UNESCO Memory of the World International Register. In short, this book is a pretty deal.
This particular image is really weird. If you peek at the Nativity scene, you’ll notice immediately what’s weird about it – there’s no Baby Jesus. JNoPie at The Art of Modern Life suggests that it’s actually Mary in the manger, with Joseph and the innkeeper beside her. My first thought, though, was that it was an older Jesus in the manger, with Joseph and Mary beside him. I feel like I’m probably wrong, and JNoPie seems to know what she’s talking about. Nevertheless, I’m sticking with my older-Jesus-in-the-manger theory until I see a better-quality version of this image.
I think the reason I’m hesitant to say it’s Mary in the manger is because I’ve always imagined Mary to have blonde or brown hair. I don’t know why. I blame Sunday School.