Sacred Hands

Curated by Pablo Alvarez and Evyn Kropf


It seems appropriate to use the term "sacred" to describe the hands that copied the manuscripts containing the texts of the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. However, the meaning of this word transcends the conventional limits of the religious sphere. "Sacred" can also designate what is unique, exclusive, and venerable. For centuries scribes and artists turned well-known texts, such as the Jewish Scriptures, the Gospels, and the Qurʼān, into unique artistic objects that can even now inspire feelings of respect and reverence among all sort of people, regardless of their beliefs. In the Jewish tradition it took 1,000 years to obtain the canonical version of the Scriptures, whereas for the Christian and Muslim traditions it took 400 and 20 years respectively. Indeed, the manuscripts on display are the textual and artistic evidence of a long journey that started with oral stories and continued with their written transmission in various languages, including Hebrew, Greek, Coptic, Armenian, Latin, and Arabic.