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Online source for Biblical art

Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about my promise and/or intention to blog more about LimmudNY 2008. I've just been busy. (I also want to blog about my somewhat-less-than-perfect experience voting in the NY primary this morning, but it, too, shall have to wait.)

One of the more pleasurable aspects of my job involves looking for images, often ones that depict Biblical scenes. I just found this great online resource, called, of all things, Biblical Art on the WWW. ("WWW" is so...20th century, but I'll forgive them.) The site was created by a Norwegian theologian and schoolteacher and member of the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church of Norway. It is non-commercial in nature and all of the images are hosted elsewhere.

You can search for art by artist, by Biblical subject, or, perhaps coolest of all, by Biblical verse.

One of my favorites is Gustave Doré. He is seriously Old School. He was French and he lived from 1832-83. Here is his Wikipedia entry. I like him because (a) his images are ubiquitous and pop up quickly with Google Image search and are thus vaguely recognizable to me and (b) because they look so...Biblical, I guess. They look classic (see, for example, Moses breaking the tablets of the law--here is a larger version). They look old. They look like the images I remember from the Bible Stories for Jewish Children book from my childhood. (Did anyone else grow up with this? Published by Ktav in 1973?)

If you like Dore's style, you might also enjoy work by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (German, 1794-1872). For other classical Biblical images, check out what they have for Rembrandt. Prefer something a bit more modern? Here's Chagall.

Moving on to searching by Biblical verse, here is the art for the Book of Esther (one of my favorites), chapter 1. (Not my favorite chapter, but I was curious to see how people depicted Vashti.)

And by Biblical subject, we have images of Hannah, of Job's wife, and of Potiphar's wife. Also, of lots and lots and lots of Biblical men.

I wonder if part of why I find these images so fascinating is because, historically, Jews did not create this kind of representational art. There is something...illicit, or maybe just Christian, about it. Before I started discovering this stuff, the closest I had come to Biblical art were those dittos that we colored in in kindergarten and my Bible Stories for Jewish Children.

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Gustave Dore's lithographs are indeed ubiquitous, but maybe some of them are familiar to you because we have a book of them at home? (A Dore Treasury, edited and with an introduction by James Stevens) I think I bought it when I was in college--certainly before you were born. It is on the shelf next to collections of the works of three other great graphic artists--Albrecht Durer, M. C. Escher, and Lynd Ward.
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