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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

The Image and Its Prohibition in Jewish Antiquity
Pearce, Sarah, editor

Oxford: Journal of Jewish Studies, 2013 pp. x + 273. £55.00


Description: Against the commonly held opinion that ancient Judaism was an artless culture, this sumptuously illustrated book offers new ways of looking at art in Jewish antiquity. Leading experts, under the editorship of Sarah Pearce, skilfully explore different functions of images in relation to their prohibition by the Second of the Ten Commandments. The visual world of ancient Judaism often reflects a tense confrontation between Mediterranean, artful classical culture and the image-filled, yet law-inspired biblical literature. Readers will encounter a rich collection of objects and texts analysed in different contexts, from Solomonís Temple to late antiquity. The imageless God of monotheistic Judaism combated the polytheistic cults of Israelís neighbours with the use of symbols. Figurative, floral and geometrical embellishments of synagogues served as decoration and not for worship. Narrative biblical scenes in the Dura-Europos synagogue played an educational and political role in Jewish society on the outskirts of the Roman Empire. Antique Jewish art exercised a profound influence on medieval Islam and even on the modern Western visual world. This book is aimed at both the scholarly world and all readers interested in religion and art.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Pentateuch, Exodus, Literature, Methods, Theological Approaches, Biblical Theology, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Theology, Other Methods

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Review by Steven Fine
Published 4/21/2016
Citation: Steven Fine, review of Sarah Pearce, ed., The Image and Its Prohibition in Jewish Antiquity, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2016).


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