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The sweep of the new exhibition at the New York Public Library — “Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam” — is stunning. It encompasses both an elaborately decorated book of 20th-century Coptic Christian readings and a modest 19th-century printing of the Gospels in the African language Grebo. There are Korans, with pages that shimmer with gold leaf and elegant calligraphy, and a 13th-century Pentateuch from Jerusalem, written in script used by Samaritans who traced their origins to the ancient Northern Kingdom of Israel.
The library’s Gutenberg Bible is here, as well as its 1611 King James translation. The first Koran published in English is shown, from 1649, along with fantastical images from 16th-century Turkish and Persian manuscripts in which Muhammad is pictured with other prophets, his face a blank white space in obeisance to the prohibition against his portrait.
Out of many, one. That could well be the motto of this ambitious exhibition. It focuses on “the three Abrahamic religions” — Judaism, Christianity and Islam. One of the main sponsors of “Three Faiths,” is the Coexist Foundation, whose aim is “to promote better understanding between Jews, Christians and Muslims.” (The other main donor is the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.) The display is on view through Feb. 27 at the New York Public Library.