Beauty and the Bible: Toward a Hermeneutics of Biblical Aesthetics (Society of Biblical Literature. Semeia Studies)
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These seven essays offer fresh perspectives on beauty s role in revelation. Each essay features a hermeneutical approach informed by the contemporary study of aesthetics. Covering a series of texts in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, from Adam and Eve in the garden to Jesus on trial in the Fourth Gospel, the authors engage beauty from three overarching perspectives: modern philosophy, contextual criticism, and the postcritical return to beauty s primary qualities. The three perspectives are not harmonized but rather explored concurrently to create a volume with intriguing methodological tensions. As this collection highlights beauty in the narratives of scripture, it opens readers to a largely unexplored dimension of the Bible. The contributors are Richard J. Bautch, Jo-Ann A. Brant, Mark Brummitt, David Penchansky, Antonio Portalatín, Jean-François Racine, and Peter Spitaler.
Stubbs, Justin S. Ukpong, and Revelation E. Velunta. 2003. The Gospel of Matthew: A Contextual Introduction for Group Study. Nashville: Abingdon. Pillow, Kirk. 2000. Sublime Understanding: Aesthetic Reflection in Kant and Hegel. Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought. Cambridge: MIT Press. Saussure, Ferdinand de. 1969. Cours de linguistique générale. Edited by Tullio de Mauro. Prepared by Charles Bally, Albert Séchehaye, and Albert Riedlinger. Postface by Louis-Jean Calvet. Grande
a moving point of view (177–93), constantly changing because expectations and perspectives mutate from segment to segment of the text. Thus, the implied reader stimulates the creative activity of the real reader, because the implied reader opens possibilities, a playground (Spielraum; Iser 1979, 191) where the reader can react and interact with the text, imagining different alternatives to the plot but also striving to follow the direction of the text. One important moment of the act of reading,
looking for a particular objective meaning, a reading should uncover the conflicts, contradictions, and places of dissonance within a text. Paired with Penchansky’s essay is an empirical study, “Yachin and Boaz in Jerusalem and Rome” by Richard Bautch. This essay deals with the columns Yachin and Boaz in the Solomonic Temple, curiously described in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles. Bautch first looks at how these columns were rearticulated in Christian architecture and argues that what made the Solomonic
(Gen 29:16–17). This word רכוֹתhas the sense of “delicate” or “fragile,” which some have interpreted 1. Unless otherwise indicated, biblical quotations are from the nrsv. -47- 48 BEAUTY AND THE BIBLE as soft, pleasing, or lovely, but the story suggests rather that Leah’s eyes are weak and sickly; she is squint-eyed and often bumping into things. In several passages, the Song of Songs also expresses the beauty of the beloved’s eyes: Ah, you are beautiful, my love; ah, you are beautiful;
demonstrates that the same applies to the Greek language system. Second, depending on the scholar’s research aims, Western concepts of beauty either limit or expand one’s perspective on the beautiful in other historical and cultural settings. On the one hand, to actually see the beauty that biblical authors perceived requires the contemporary reader to know both Hebrew and Hellenistic conceptions of beauty, one’s own contemporary conceptualization of beauty, and the distance between biblical and