Beauty and the Bible: Toward a Hermeneutics of Biblical Aesthetics (Society of Biblical Literature. Semeia Studies)

Beauty and the Bible: Toward a Hermeneutics of Biblical Aesthetics (Society of Biblical Literature. Semeia Studies)

Jean-François Racine

Language: English

Pages: 136

ISBN: 1589839072

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


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.

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These two (at least) compete for the privilege that comes with the status of favored wife. In this story, beauty trumps fertility. Even though Leah bears sons for Jacob, Rachel’s beauty attracts Jacob more than Leah’s active womb. The narrative suggests that Rachel’s beauty gains the attention of the patriarch and affords her status in the family. The field in which the conflict between 50 BEAUTY AND THE BIBLE the women takes place is the household. They struggle to gain the attention of a

was Saul, a handsome young man (‫)בחור וטוב‬. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he (‫ ;)טוב ממנו‬he stood head and shoulders above everyone else (1 Sam 9:2). Here height is juxtaposed with being handsome. Generally, in the Bible, there are five features juxtaposed with “beautiful” or “handsome”: eyes, skin, hair, flawlessness, and height. The first three serve as the organizing principle for my paper. One might also add “youth” as a characteristic of beauty. All

)בנות ירושלם כאהלי קדר כיריעות שלמה‬Song 1:5). Although the word describing the skin is different, “black” instead of “ruddy,” both words suggest a reference to poor people who work in the sun. The next verse makes that clear. The woman declares: “Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has gazed on me” (1:6). The word “dark” (‫ )שחרחרת‬is a variation on ‫( שחורה‬black) and is clearly ascribed to the impact of the sun. So once again the question is, does her blackness make her

JERUSALEM AND ROME 75 such high expectations, and that his policies were to some extent shaped by the pressures that they expressed.” The expectations were evident from Leo’s earliest days as pope. In a sermon delivered in April 1513, Simon Begnius, bishop of Modrusia, cited Zech 9:9 to imply a likeness between Leo and Jesus Christ. In the same sermon, Rev 5:5 was invoked with its reference to the lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, a prophecy thought to be fulfilled in the new pope.

loveliness of his work. The language that John chooses to describe restored humanity suggests that God’s delight is an aesthetic as well as an ethical pleasure. In Johannine realized eschatology, God bestows the gift of eternal life upon believers so that the community of believers is the resurrected community. Those who believe are reborn of the Spirit (3:5) and no longer perish but have eternal life (3:16). Ancient Jewish writers consistently describe the resurrected body as something

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