03. Early Europe & Colonial Americas, Art & Humanities, Teaching

Lesson Plan: Jewish Narrative & Illuminated Manuscripts

Lesson Plan: Jewish Narrative & Illuminated Manuscripts

I think this is probably *another* unusual way of organizing the AP Art History 250. 🙂 I can’t help it I guess! This albeit unorthodox pairing came because I was creating lessons for a unit on the Art of World Religions and wanted to add “jewish” pieces to balance the other great faith traditions of the world. This lesson looks at Jewish Old Testament narrative in medieval manuscripts. It gives us an opportunity to look at two different styles of storytelling while also acknowledging a Jewish artistic presence in a largely anti-Semitic Europe.

Images in this Lesson Plan:

  • #50. Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well and Jacob Wrestling the Angel, from the Vienna Genesis. Early Byzantine Europe. Early sixth century CE. Illuminated manuscript (tempera, gold, and silver on purple vellum).
  • #64. Golden Haggadah (The Plagues of Egypt, Scenes of Liberation, and Preparation for Passover). Late medieval Spain. c. 1320 CE. Illuminated manuscript (pigments and gold leaf on vellum).

Lesson Procedures

In this lesson students will work in pairs or groups to match up Biblical text to the narrative they see in the manuscripts. And then, once I check off they are correct (usually takes a few rounds) they will receive articles (below) with information on the artistic elements of the manuscripts. I really like to suggest force my kids to work together so I only give one set of images, text, and article. This way they have to talk to each other if they hope to complete the task.

Part I Resources:

Part II Resources:

COVID/Digital Lesson Amendment

If teaching this lesson digitally, set students up in small online groups (3-4) and assign each student 1-2 of the  images in the set (there are 5 total). Each student is expected to write their defense as to why they think their image goes with a certain text. The group has to come to a consensus before moving on to part 2. Part 2 means they can access the articles (however you choose to release that to them is on you), and each kid reads one and reports to the group to add to their notes.

Teacher Resources


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