Suggestions for fine art Torah, Bible, and Quran editions?
March 22, 2012 6:23 PM   Subscribe

I am building a collection of books to teach the history of fine art book making, and I would like to find copies of the Torah, Bible, and Quran that are visually pleasing. Do you recommend any specific editions? Unfortunately, my total budget for a starter collection is only $500, so I would especially value suggestions that are modest in price. At the minimum I would like to show my students a range of calligraphy, typesetting, and illumination, but I suspect that I can find some really interesting editions that do much more. All suggestions are welcome.
posted by mortaddams to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The Jersualem Bible as illustrated by Salvador Dali is pretty amazing, more for the illumination aspect than bookbinding as such.
posted by Rain Man at 6:42 PM on March 22, 2012

The Pennyroal Caxton edition of the Holy Bible illustrated by Barry Moser (he also did an edition of Moby Dick that is well worth checking out.)
posted by gwint at 6:46 PM on March 22, 2012

The other thing you can do is to go to academic libraries. Libraries are chock-full of simply amazing books(often locked away in rare books rooms), and librarians tend to get excited when people want to see them, especially to appreciate them as books and objects of art. Even small college libraries can end up with some amazing things from random alumni donations. I would call or email around and see if you can set up a couple field trips.
posted by rockindata at 6:49 PM on March 22, 2012

Wikipedia says that the Book of Hours is the most common type of surviving medieval illuminated manuscript. You might want to look into them as well.

Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry is popular, but there are plenty of reproductions available.
posted by zinon at 7:46 PM on March 22, 2012

All-Arabic editions of the Quran are all pretty lovely, as opposed to ones with translation included. The text is normally a reproduction from handwritten calligraphy, with illumination and arabesques. This is a particularly nice small one with a green cover that people come back from Hajj with all the time. Couldn't find that one on Amazon, but here's another . Search for Arabic-only Quran.
posted by BinGregory at 8:28 PM on March 22, 2012

Also, if it doesn't have to be the Quran itself, there are other Islamic texts available. I've been dreaming of buying this edition of the Dala'il al-Khayrat for a long time (warning: expensive).
posted by BinGregory at 8:36 PM on March 22, 2012

Another lovely new edition of an Islamic holy book, the Mawlid Barzanji.
posted by BinGregory at 8:54 PM on March 22, 2012

As a reference text, the Smithsonian Book about Books is fantastic. It will give you ideas, and is great as a reference for students.
posted by k8lin at 6:48 AM on March 23, 2012

Apologies, I did not mention that the smithsonian book has lots of stuff on religious texts specifically.
posted by k8lin at 6:49 AM on March 23, 2012

There's the St. John's Bible. The Letters and Revelation volume is $54.95, but there are also some "making-of" books and books of just the illuminations that are less expensive.
posted by erloteiel at 7:22 AM on March 23, 2012

The Council on American Islamic Relations will send you a Quran, a gorgeous huge 8lb copy for free. It is in Arabic and English, full of illustrations, and IMHO, quite beautiful. Might not be exactly what you need, but it would at least be a reference point.
posted by timsteil at 7:56 AM on March 23, 2012

Ah shoot, the CAIR changed their policy as of last month, and are asking for $9.95 for shipping. Still.
posted by timsteil at 7:59 AM on March 23, 2012

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