Three Faiths: NY Public Library Exhibition Celebrates Shared Religious Traditions

Friday, October 22, 2010

George Fletcher, the head curator of the New York Public Library's “Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam,” is beaming. Beginning on Friday, he will finally get the chance to show off two years of hard work, and some of the library’s most rare and beautiful spiritual texts. Drawing on the traditions of three of the world’s most prominent religions—Judaism, Christianity, Islam—Fletcher says the collection uses sacred books to illustrate “how much in common exists between these three faiths.”

A team of curators with different specialties combed through the library archives to find the 200 items the library would display. Every curator has a favorite, and David Wachtel, the curator of the Judaism third of the exhibit, had to make sacrifices to make room for a 17th-century Old Testament scroll.

Wachtel told me the Scroll of Esther from Amsterdam “takes up a lot of real estate, it takes up over 12 feet sitting in that case. I had to give up a lot to get it in, but I’m very happy with my trade!”

Next door to the "Three Faiths" exhibition is the “Scriptorium." It’s a hands-on workshop where you can discover different scribing techniques and traditions used to create the books on display. Look out for the Persian cat brush made from a real Persian cat, and the clever ways scribes who wrote in Arabic managed to keep their writing straight without drawing lines.

The "Three Faiths" exhibit opens at a time when New York City is in the middle of a heated debated about religious tolerance, a fact that's not lost on George Fletcher. “We never expected that at the moment there would be so much activity around religious and politics," Fletcher says. "What we have put together here is a show that is very complimentary—one faith tradition to another. We found that far more unites us than divides us. We hope that our visitors will be equally surprised and delighted.”

"Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam" opens on Friday, October 22 and runs through February 27, 2011 at the New York Public Library.

Images of Mecca and Medina, <em>Dala 'il al-Khayrat (Proofs of Good Deeds)</em>
Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library
Images of Mecca and Medina, Dala 'il al-Khayrat (Proofs of Good Deeds)"

Jazuli, Istanbul (?) Ottoman Empire, AH 1207 (1792 CE)

Spencer Collection, The New York Public Library
"Praises of the Prophet," Religious Anthology, Ottoman Empire, 19th-century
Spencer Collection, The New York Public Library
"The Qur'an, Qur'an," Probably Turkey, AH 734 (1333 CE)
Spencer Collection, The New York Public Library
"Matthew and Mark in Ge'ez, Gospels according to Matthew and Mark," Ethiopia (1721-1730)
Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library
"The Christian Bible, Gospels (Harkness Gospels)," in Latin, Landevennec, Brittany before 917
Spencer Collection, The New York Public Library
"The Psalms, Psalter (De la Twyere Psalter)," in Latin, Enland, diocese of York, after 1304-ca. 1310
Ketubah (Marriage Contract)"" />
Dorot Jewish Division, The New York Public Library
"The Binding of Isaac, Ketubah (Marriage Contract)"

Bride: Deobrah Bianca le-Beit Barukh; Groom: Abraham Jacob Ottolenght, Nizza Monferrati, 6 Elul, AM 5542 (16 August 1872 CE)

Detail from Megilah (Scroll of Esther)"" />
Spencer Collection, The New York Public Library
Detail from "The Whole Megilah (Scroll of Esther)"

Raphael Montalto, scribe, Amseterdam, AM 5446 (1686 CE)


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Comments [1]

shadeed ahmad from New York, New York

In viewing the slides accompanying this article about the exhibition, "Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam" a warm and soothing sensation of complete serenity, respect and sacredness drew me deeper into grander states of reflection and appreciation of these phenomenal and timeless renderings of celestial and liberating art. For me, a visit to this exhibition will be a rare and exclusive feeling of holy pilgrimage in New York City.

Oct. 22 2010 01:06 AM

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