Of all the Old Testament books, the Book of Job remains
acutely contemporary today. Written between the 6th and
3rd c. B.C., it deals with subjects such as the presence
of evil in the world, the misery, the quest for justice, the faith,
and the behavior of people when they face sudden twists and turns
of life. It seems that the ancient text had been illustrated since
the Early Christian period because of its fascinating novel-like
In her own study on the Book of Job, Stella
Papadaki-Oekland probes into all the Byzantine illuminated
manuscripts of the illustrated Greek text. The number of miniature
illustrations included in these fifteen manuscripts, dating from
the 9th to the 16th century, comes to more
than 1800 of which 2/3 of the about 380 illustrated herein are
previously unpublished manuscript images. The book is an
unabridged version with minor changes of Papadaki-Oekland’s
Inaugural Dissertation at Heidelberg University (1979) and is
published posthumously by her daughters, Helen-Aina and
Astrid-Zoé -in homage to Byzantine Art.
The fifteen Byzantine Illuminated Manuscript Illustrations of
the “Book of Job” studied, illustrated and discussed
are: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Rome: cod. Vat. gr. 749; cod.
Vat. gr. 751; cod. Vat. gr. 1231 and cod. Vat. Pal. gr.230
- The Monastery of St. John the Theologian, Isle of Patmos:
cod. Patmos 171 - Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venezia: cod.
Marc. gr. 538 - Monastery of St. Catherine, Sinai, Egypt: cod.
Siena 3 - Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and All Palestine,
Jerusalem: MS. Taphou 5 - Monastery of Vatopedi, Mount Athos:
Vatopedi 590 - Monastery Magisti (Great) Lavra, Mount Athos: Lavra
B100 - Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens: MS. 62 - Bodleian
Library, Oxford: MS. Barocci 201 and MS. Laud gr. 86 - Bibliothegue
nationale de France, Paris: MS. gr. 134 and MS. gr. 135 - National
Library of Russia, St. Petersburg: MS gr. 382 (former folio of
The study of the Septuagint Book of Job in Byzantine
tradition include comparative analysis of the interrelationship of
the individual miniature cycles, their general arrangement and
artistic character, the origin and development as well as its
contents and significance in the literary and popular tradition.
Finally, the six Comparative Tables presented at the end of the
volume provide the reader for the first time a complete cross
reference interrelationship between the individual 1800 images of
the 15 manuscripts and “Sir Lancelot C. L.
Brenton’s” English translation of the Septuagint
“Book of Job” passages.
Further examples of images discussed herein of early Christian
“Job” representations include: Biblioteca
Apostolica Vaticana, Rome, MS.Reg.gr.1 – known as the Bible
of Queen Christina of Sweden; Bibliothèque nationale de
France, Paris, MS gr. 510, MS syr. 341-the Syriac Bible and MS.gr.
923- Sacra Parallela; Biblioteca Nazionale “Vittorio Emanuele
III”, Naples, Coptic MS IB 18, Catacomb of the Via Latina,
Rome and the Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus, Basilica di San Pietro,
Furthermore, the book is of invaluable importance due to its
methodological approach. As the leading art historian Hans Belting
points out, the study of Stella Papadaki-Oekland calls in question
Kurt Weitzmann’s rigid theory about the process of the
Byzantine illuminated manuscripts production.
There’s no doubt that, even though it was written a lot of
years ago, this remains the most complete and comprehensive study
about the Book of Job in Byzantine art.
"This volume will be indispensable to historians of Byzantine manuscript illuminations and scholars interested in the history of reception of Job."
(L. Seow, in: Studies in Iconography, vol. 32, 2011, p. 235)