Iconographic Analysis of Scenes of the Miracle of Healing Patients with Epilepsy in Manuscripts of Florence Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana Plut. 6.23 and Paris Bibliothéque National de France Grec 74Fatma Yaşar, Zeliha Demirel Gökalp
The subject of this article is to provide an iconographic analysis of patients with epilepsy healing scenes. It is illustrated in the inventory numbers of manuscripts Plut 6.23 and Grec 74. These manuscripts date to the last quarter of the 11th century and are samples of illustrated Tetraevangelion. Miraculous healings are recurring themes in the New Testament. Indeed, the healing of patients with epilepsy is mentioned in the New Testament such as in Matthew 17: 14–21, Mark 11: 14–29, and Luke 9: 37–43. Laur. Plut 6.23 and BnF Grec 74 are the illustrated Tetraevangelion. In manuscript Plut 6.23, the chapters of Matthew, Mark, and Luke depict the healing of epileptic patients and illustrate the relevant scenes. Besides, in inventory number Grec 74, the healing of patients with epilepsy is illustrated only in chapters of Matthew and Mark. Luke does not describe the miracle of healing patients with epilepsy. Plut 6.23 displays three scenes while Grec 74 presents two scenes. As a result, a total of five illustrations on healing of epileptic patients can be found in these two manuscripts. Illustrations of the healing of patients in the Plut 6.23 have a narrative style. Besides, these illustrated scenes include four or five consecutive moments. In other words, all the scenes in Plut 6.23 are closely related to New Testament chapters. However, in the scenes of Grec 74, the depiction is less detailed and is centered on the healing scene. Nevertheless, the iconographic details of Grec 74 display proficient artistic skill.
İkonografik Çözümleme Bağlamında Floransa Biblioteca Medicea Lorenziana Plut. 6.23 ve Paris Bibliothéque National de France Grec 74 El Yazmalarındaki Epilepsi Hastalarının İyileştirilmesi Mucizesi Sahneleri*Fatma Yaşar, Zeliha Demirel Gökalp
Bu makalenin konusunu 11. yüzyılın son çeyreğine tarihlendirilen Floransa Biblioteca Medicea Lorenziana Pluteo 6.23 ve Paris Bibliothéque National de France Grec 74 No.lu el yazması eserlerde yer alan epilepsi (saralı) hastalarının iyileştirilmesi sahnelerinin ikonografik çözümleme bağlamında analizi oluşturmaktadır. İncilin, Matta 17: 14-21, Markos 9: 14-29 ve Luka 9: 37-43 bölümlerinde epilepsili hastaların iyileştirilmesi mucizesi anlatısına yer verilmiştir. Laur. Plut 6.23 ve BnF Grec 74 No.lu el yazmaları resimli Tetraevangelion’dur. Laur. Plut 6.23 No.lu el yazmasında, Matta, Markos ve Luka bölümlerinin her birinde epilepsili hastaların iyileştirilmesi konusundan bahsedilmiş ve ilgili sahneler resmedilmiştir. BnF Grec 74 No.lu el yazmasında ise epilepsili hastaların iyileştirilmesi yalnızca Matta ve Markos incili bölümlerinde resmedilmiş olup Luka İncili bölümünde ise herhangi bir resme yer verilmemiştir. Böylelikle üç tanesi Laur. Plut 6.23’te, iki tanesi ise BnF Grec 74’te yer almak kaydıyla bu iki el yazmasında epilepsi hastaların iyileştirilmesi ile ilgili toplamda beş resim bulunmaktadır. Laur. Plut6.23 No.lu el yazmasındaki epilepsili hastaların iyileştirilmesi konulu sahneler hikâye edici tarzda yapılmıştır. Resimler içinde dört ya da beş anı barındırmaktadır. Ayrıca, resmedilen bu sahneler birbirini takip eden dört ya da beş anı içermektedir. Başka bir deyişle, Plut 6.23’teki tüm sahneler Yeni Ahit bölümleriyle yakından ilişkilidir. BnF Grec 74 No.lu el yazmasında ise olayın anlatımı için yalın bir ikonografik anlayış benimsenmiştir. BnF Grec 74’teki sahnelerde tasvirler daha az detaylıdır ve sadece şifa konusuna odaklanılmıştır. Lakin BnF Grec 74’ün ikonografik detayları yetkin bir sanatsal beceri göstermektedir.
Over the course of history, various theories have been proposed to explain the root cause of epilepsy, including brain disorders, congenital abnormalities, genetic inheritance, witchcraft, retribution for wrongdoing, malevolent spirits, paranormal influences, and mental health conditions.
Miraculous healings are recurring themes in the New Testament. Indeed, the healing patients with epilepsy is mentioned in the New Testament, particularly in Gospels Matthew 17: 14-21, Mark 9: 14-29, and Luke 9: 37-43. Thus, Christian iconography in most cases depicts Jesus blessing the patients with epilepsy forcefully driving the evil spirit out of their mouths or heads. Epilepsy has been believed to be caused by supernatural forces. The causes of epilepsy were explained in different ways by Byzantine doctors who agreed that epilepsy was a brain disorder. However, Byzantine clergymen claimed that this disease was caused by devils and evil spirits. This diseasehas been described by the clergy as a malignant disease.
The subject of this article is to provide an iconographic analysis of the healing of epileptic patients. It is illustrated in the illuminated manuscripts Florentine Bibliotche Laurensiana, Plut. 6.23 and Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale de France Grec 74 which date back to the last quarter of the 11th century. The healing of patients with epilepsy is mentioned in the chapter of the New Testament, notably in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. This scene, depicted in detail in both manuscripts, is not as common in Byzantine iconography as other healing scenes. Other scenes depicting healing demoniacs exist in church decoration, but it is not certain that the scenes refer specifically to these passages of the Gospels.
Scenes of the healing of patients with epilepsy are not common in Byzantine art. In the Byzantine period of the 11th century, scenes on this subject were depicted mostly in manuscripts. Within the scope of this study on the manuscripts of Laur. Plut. 6.23 and BnF Grec 74, the scenes of the healing of epileptic patients, notably their iconography, style, and their relationship with the text of the gospels will be examined by us.
Five scenes of healing of epileptic patients can be found in these two manuscripts: Laur. Plut 6.23 displays three scenes while BnF Grec 74 presents two scenes. Illustrations of the healing of patients in the Laur. Plut 6.23 has a narrative style. However, this was not the case for BnF. Grec 74. In other words, the scenes of the BnF gr. 74 are less iconographically detailed focusing only on the actual action of healing. In the Matthew, cycle of this miracle story of Laur. Plut 6.23 includes five consecutive episodes (fol. 35v); a) The disciples and the crowd watch at both sides of composition, the father of the child coming to Jesus b) The “epileptic” boy puts his head in the water c) The “epileptic” boy burns himself in the flames in front of his house d) Christ heals the child e) The father brings his son to Christ. The chapter of Mark includes four consecutive episodes (fol. 80v); a) The man asks Jesus to heal his sick son b) Christ heals the boy c) The boy stands up d) Jesus goes to his apostles. Finally, Luke’s gospel we have three consecutive episodes, similar to the ones in fol. 80v. In fol. 125v portrays following scenes a) The man asks Jesus to heal his sick son b) Christ heals the boy c) Jesus returns to the apostles. However, this is not the case with the inventory numbers of the BnF gr. 74 manuscript. These scenes have only one episode (Fol.34v, Fol.83r). In fol. 34v there is only one scene. The boy is represented almost naked. He is represented twice, once standing and then falling on the ground. The boy’s father is undistinguishable in the crowd, standing at the right of the scene. In the fol. 83r, the “epileptic” boy is represented three times in three different ways: at first, he is depicted standing and then falling on the ground. The iconographic detail of this illustration is taken from 8r. The miracle at Capernaum and this Lunatic Childin Mark has one thing in common: both stories tell that the demoniac was thrown on the ground by the evil spirit (Mark, 9: 20). This was the reason that the artist adopted
the identical scenes for these two scenes. In both manuscripts, the composition, the figures, and their posture are iconographic elements that display the story of the text.
As a result, a total of five illustrations on the healing of epileptic patients can be found in these two manuscripts: Laur. Plut 6.23 displays three scenes while BnF Grec 74 presents two scenes. Illustrations of the healing of patients in the Laur. Plut 6.23 has a narrative style. Besides, these scenes include four or five consecutive moments. In other words, all the scenes in Laur. Plut 6.23 is closely related to New Testament chapters. However, in the scenes of the BnF Grec 74, the depiction is less detailed and is centered on the healing scene. Nevertheless, the iconographic details of BnF Grec 74 show proficient artistic skill.