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The Bible and the Arts
Author: J.Cheryl Exum
Editor: J.Cheryl Exum
Recent years have witnessed an upsurge of interest in relating the Bible to the worlds of literature and the visual arts. How is the Bible portrayed in the arts and how do the arts affect what we know, or think we know, about the Bible? In this provocative and wide-ranging collection, the eight contributors engage in a lively and fruitful conversation with the work of novelists, artists, filmmakers, and critics. Topics treated in this collection include the Bible and film, from Frank Capra movies of the 30s and 40s to such Hollywood epics as The Robe and The Ten Commandments; the Bible and literature, focusing particularly on the story of David and Bathsheba in recent fiction; and the Bible and painting, with specific studies of Rembrandt as painter and etcher and the twentieth-century German artist Lovis Corinth and more generalized discussion of paintings of King David throughout the centuries and the representation of the sexuality of Jesus in Renaissance art.
Contributors include Joel Rosenberg, Erica Sheen, Martin O'Kane, Ilse Müllner, Johannes Taschner, Clive Marsh, J. Cheryl Exum, and David Jasper.
In: Biblical Interpretation
In: Vetus Testamentum
In: Biblical Interpretation
Author: J. Cheryl Exum

Abstract

Song 3:6-11 shares distinctive poetic features with the rest of the Song of Songs, such as the impression of immediacy, the conjuring up of the loved one, the blurring of distinctions between past and present, and the address to an audience that includes the reader. This pericope is constructed in such a way as to bring a luxurious conveyance bearing Solomon (the male lover in his royal guise) from the furthest imaginable horizon, the wilderness, closer and closer to the speaker who describes the procession, and through whose eyes we perceive the sight in greater and greater detail. The poetic analysis sheds light on three debated questions in Song of Songs interpretation: (1) who is the speaker in these verses?, (2) who or what is coming up from the wilderness—a person or an object?, (3) do these verses describe a moving means of transport or a fixed structure?

In: Biblical Interpretation
In: Congress Volume Helsinki 2010
Author: J. Cheryl Exum

Abstract

In this article, I discuss how Lovis Corinth's painting of The Blinded Samson-a highly autobiographical work-led me to see a tragic aspect of the biblical character that I was previously unable to entertain seriously. The discussion is intended to provide an example of the fruitfulness of allowing for a mutual influence between the Bible and the arts. The Bible has inspired artists for centuries and will probably continue to do so; it is also the case that artistic interpretations can influence biblical interpretation in unexpected ways.

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In: Biblical Interpretation
In: Bibel als Literatur
In: Goochem in Mokum, Wisdom in Amsterdam
Author: J. Cheryl Exum

Abstract

For all the emotional tension the expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael from the household of Abraham suggests, the biblical text is remarkably restrained. This is not the case in art, where the expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael is a popular theme, and we find the expulsion depicted with a good deal of attention to the possible feelings of the various characters (not only Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael but often Sarah and Isaac as well, though the text does not mention their presence when Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael away). In particular, when artists visualize the scene, they offer viewers what the text withholds, Hagar's and Ishmael's point of view, with the result that the viewer, unlike the reader, is openly invited to feel sympathy for them. The article examines narrative transactions that reveal the biblical writers's unease (guilt?) about the treatment of Hagar and Ishmael by approaching the text in the light of selected paintings in which the apparent problematic textual lack of sympathy for Hagar's and Ishmael's plight is foregrounded, even if the expulsion is accepted as necessary.

In: Religion and the Arts