Frontispiece of a Bible Moralisee (ca. 1250)

Order from Chaos: Frontispiece of a Gothic Bible Moralisee (13th century)

Hesiod in his “Theogony” (8th – 7th century B.C.) described the initial condition of the Universe with the rather vague word “chaos”. In “Genesis”, the first book of the Bible, God creates the sky and the earth upon the “abyss”. It therefore seems as a visual pun the fact that some entity resembling the emblematic image of the so – called “Mandelbrot set” (right) should appear between under a compass operated by God himself. The frontispiece of a Gothic Bible Moralisee, an illustrated Bible (Codex Vindobonensis 2554 at the Austrian National Library, dated ca. 1250 AD) presents a surprising yet meaninful coincidence, not of very different nature than the similarity between Newton’s fractal and Kupka’s “Amorpha”. God is depicted designing the Universe during the first stages of Genesis starting from a seemingly amorphous, chaotic mass (left). Remarkably, though the word “chaos” has in this case a quite different meaning, the branch of Mathematics and Physics known as “Chaos Theory” is particularly interested in order arising from chaotic systems.


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