Browsing Theology and Religious Studies by Subjects
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Imitation and finitude: Towards a Jewish theology of makingIt has long been taken as a truism that Judaism as a whole is marked by a pervasive “hostility to the image”. The prevailing narrative takes the Second Commandment very much at face value, as a prohibition against the attempt to imitate anything in the heavens above, on the earth below, or in the waters under the earth. However, this narrative is based on an incomplete understanding of the textual and artefact record. This paper takes more recent scholarship into account, and attempts to contest this narrative, and to suggest that we can identify a Jewish tradition not just of visuality, but of art, and that, further, we can get there with the help of, rather than in spite of, the biblical text. It engages with a reading of the last third of the book of Exodus, weighing the duelling narratives of Bezalel and the Golden Calf against the theories of art which have risen to prominence in the modern era, attempting to formulate the basis for a Jewish theological aesthetics which affirms and embraces the visual arts.
The work of creation: Image, idolatry, and Jewish discourse in theology and the artsThe Second Commandment, prohibiting both the worship and manufacture of graven images, is often employed as a mechanism for explaining a perceived absence of Jewish participation in the visual arts, in spite of a well recorded history of Jewish participation in the manufacture of graven images which are typically classed as craft objects. This article aims to introduce to theology the scepticism towards hierarchical distinctions between art and craft which is already familiar in the world of art theory, and by so doing prompt a dislocation of theological reflection on works of art from the point of visual engagement to the point of manufacture. It suggests that attentiveness to Jewish discourses about material production opens up interesting and potentially generative possibilities for work in theology and the arts beyond the consideration of specifically Jewish art.