280 / Reading Images, Seeing Texts

Ryan P. Bonfiglio

Towards a Visual Hermeneutics for Biblical Studies

2016 XIV-370 pages, bound

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978-3-7278-1799-1

In recent years, a growing number of biblical scholars have turned to ancient art as a vital resource for understanding the historical and conceptual background of the Bible. While these “iconographic” approaches have done much to advance findings from more traditional text-based studies, they have yet to fully address issues pertaining to the nature, power, and meaning of ancient art as well as the social practices, effects, and responses that are derived from and inform how images functioned in ancient visual culture. This volume offers a sustained engagement of theories of visual culture with the goal of further refining how images are utilized in biblical research. Issues addressed include: the function of images as a language of communication and its implications for debates about textual literacy in ancient Israel (ch. 2); the nature of the image-text relationship and how it informs methods of iconographic exegesis as well as the analysis of ancient mixed-media artifacts (ch. 3); approaches to visual analysis that take into account how linguistic and non-linguistic signs convey meaning in different ways (ch. 4); how theories about the ontology and social agency of art shed new light on the history of visual response in the ancient world, including image theft and destruction (ch. 5); and how a consideration of visual practices and the social and religious dimensions of sight can advance understandings of the nature of Israelite aniconism and the search for Yahweh’s cult image (ch. 6). Insights gained from these analyses are synthesized into a hermeneutical framework that outlines a more critical approach to working with images in the field of biblical studies. 

 

Ryan P. Bonfiglio currently serves as a Lecturer in Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA and as the John H. Stembler Scholar in Residence at the First Presbyterian Church (USA) of Atlanta. He earned a BA in Chemistry at Princeton University (2001) before completing his M.Div. at Princeton Theological Seminary (2009) and his Ph.D. in the Hebrew Bible program at Emory University in Atlanta, GA (2014). He is the co-editor (with Izaak J. de Hulster and Brent A. Strawn) of Iconographic Exegesis of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament: An Introduction to its Method and Practice, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015.