Illuminating Manuscripts: 'Three Faiths' at New York's Public Library

By Ryan, Patrick J. | Commonweal, January 14, 2011 | Go to article overview

Illuminating Manuscripts: 'Three Faiths' at New York's Public Library


Ryan, Patrick J., Commonweal


Taking their inspiration from the Qur'an, Muslims refer to Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, and a harder-to-define faith community, the Sabians, as "People of the Book." These monotheistic neighbors of Muhammad (c. 570-632) and the first Muslims struck pagan Arabs of the period as distinct not simply because of their monotheism, so sharply different from the polytheism of pre-Islamic Arabs, but because of their religious literacy.

That literacy took concrete form in Jewish synagogue liturgy and in the monastic office (qeryana) practiced by Syrian Christians that included reading and reciting "psalms, hymns, and inspired canticles" (Colossians 3:16). Muhammad received from God something like a monastic office that Arabs could read and recite in their own language, "a missive sent down from the One Filled with Mercy, the Ever Merciful, / detailed verses for a Recital in Arabic that people can understand" (Qur'an 41:2-3). This Quranic revelation put Arab Muslims on an equal liturgical footing with their monotheistic neighbors, especially Jews and Christians.

While Jews prefer to identify themselves as People of the Covenant struck between God and Abraham, and Christians embrace their self-definition as those baptized into the dying and rising of Jesus, Muslims think of themselves as people to whom God has spoken in the Qur'an, first disclosed to Muhammad. No matter how Torah-centered a Jew or Bible-believing a Christian, a Muslim's regard for the Qur'an proves even more central to his or her life.

Insight into the ways Jews, Christians, and Muslims all revere their sacred texts can be gained from the New York Public Library's stunning exhibit, "Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam." Viewable until February 27, 2011, both in the landmark main branch of the Library at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and (partially) online (http://exhibitions.nypl.org/threefaiths), the exhibit includes more than two hundred of the Library's most treasured Jewish, Christian, and Muslim books, manuscripts, and religious objects. And in conjunction with the exhibit, the library is hosting a series of programs for children, teens, and adults at its various branch libraries. These include workshops in calligraphy and the art of making books, lectures, and performances of Sufi and Sephardic music and even salsa, pointing out its Christian influences.

The exhibit was planned long before the recent rise of interreligious tension in New York City and its suburbs in response to the proposed Islamic Cultural Center at 51 Park Place. Providentially, the exhibit answers to the contrived religious hysteria surrounding that project. The result is a splendid experience for those who have a chance to visit the library in person or online.

The exhibit is organized around common themes in these three monotheistic faith traditions: revelation beginning with Abraham, the creation of Scriptures, commentary on those Scriptures, the spread of the scriptural message across broad geographic and language barriers, private prayer based on those Scriptures, and public worship that enshrines those prayers. Artfully arranged in the Beaux-Arts-style Gottesman Exhibition Hall, the number, variety, and beauty of the books and manuscripts captivate visitors. In the nearby Wachenheim Gallery (and online) visitors can see demonstrations of the art of calligraphy as well as the techniques involved in creating ancient manuscript materials. The final part of the exhibit takes the visitor visually to three sacred places in the city of Jerusalem. Each is thronged with the faithful: the Western (or Wailing) Wall, the remainder of Herod's Temple where devout Jews pray daily; the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on the eve of Greek Orthodox Easter; and the Noble Sanctuary, a collection of Muslim holy places on the Temple Mount that includes the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, seen at the hour of Friday congregational worship. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Illuminating Manuscripts: 'Three Faiths' at New York's Public Library
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.