Artist: Ilyās Bāsim Khūrī Bazzī Rāhib
Medium: Illuminated manuscript
Size: 11 x 16 cm
Location: Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.
Matthew 9:27-31 - As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They replied, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.
The blind men's initial act of faith is approaching Jesus with a plea for mercy, recognizing that they are dependent on his kindness rather than on any merit of their own. Their initial faith also includes recognition of Jesus' identity. Here two blind beggars confess Jesus' messianic identity (Son of David) before Peter does! Yet despite their initial acts of faith, Jesus forces them to clarify that they acknowledge his ability to heal this otherwise irreversible disability. Jesus refuses to heal without faith; he is not a magician, but one who seeks to glorify his Father.
This illuminated and illustrated Arabic manuscript of the Gospels by Matthew (Mattá), Mark (Marquṣ), Luke (Lūqā), and John (Yūḥannā) was copied in Egypt by Ilyās Bāsim Khūrī Bazzī Rāhib, who was most likely a Coptic monk, in 1684. The text is written in naskh in black ink with rubrics in red. The decoration is comprised of illuminated headpieces, numerous floral paintings, and approximately fifty illustrations. It is bound together in brown goatskin with blind-tooled central oval medallion, pendants, and corner pieces contemporary with the manuscript.