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913 Image, Imagery 914

her “Makers,” the alien race that originally seeded the notions of image and imagery are approached
the genetic material that resulted in the human in the articles below.
race. 1. Etymological Considerations. The Latin term
In a number of films that subvert the Bible’s imago, from which are derived – via Old French and
creation stories, the protagonist rejects a safe (bor- Anglo-Norman – the English “image” and “im-
ing and predetermined) life in Eden to claim the agery” (cf. Fr. image, imagerie [lit. image-making];
modern right to make his or her own decisions Ital. immagine, immagini; Span. imagen, imaginería),
(e.g., Pleasantville, dir. Gary Ross, 1998, US; The Tru- means primarily an imitation or copy of a thing, or
man Show, dir. Peter Weir, 1998, US; The Adjustment an image or likeness in the form of a picture, statue,
Bureau, dir. George Nolfi, 2011). In the films of Ross mask, or an apparition or ghost (Lewis). It is impor-
and Nolfi, the god-figure expresses satisfaction that tant to note that neither imago nor its Greek equiva-
his Adam and Eve have grasped the value of self- lent, εκν, was considered by the early Christians
determination – perhaps realizing the image of God to be the same as an idol. In fact, the notions of
within themselves. images and icons were quite separate in the minds
Finally, the question of God’s image is also im- of early Christian writers, who used εδωλον (image,
plicitly present in films that feature an actor (e.g., phantom), but also simulacrum (likeness, image, rep-
George Burns, Morgan Freeman) or actress (e.g., Al- resentation) and γαλμα (statue in a god’s honor,
anis Morissette) playing the role of God. Such films image) to discuss pagan idols, whereas imago/εκν
present viewers with an anthropomorphic “image” was used for portraits (in visual arts) or for visible
of the God in whose image they were supposedly reflections of “real” albeit invisible entities (like
made. Christ as the image of God).
Bibliography: ■ Ployd, A., “‘A Glimmer of Adam’: The Entering currency during the early 13th cen-
Image of God in Aronofsky’s Noah,” Noah’s Flood (www. tury, the Middle English term ymage or hymage,
floodofnoah.com; accessed October 24, 2015). ■ Sanders, which acquired its modern spelling image by the
T., “In the Beginning: Adam and Eve in Film,” in The Bible second half of the 16th century, continues to denote
in Motion (ed. R. Burnette-Bletsch; HBR 2; Berlin 2016) an artificial imitation or representation of some-
19–36. thing, especially a person, whether in the solid form
Rhonda Burnette-Bletsch of a statue, effigy, or sculpted figure (e.g., a reli-
See also /Anthropology; /God; /Idols, Idolatry giously venerated saint or deity), or a form deline-
ated, painted, or otherwise produced on a surface
(e.g., a portrait, picture, or carving; OED, s.v., “Im-
Image, Imagery age 1.a–b”). It is in this sense that the term
“(graven) image” is used, e.g., in certain Bible-ver-
I. Introduction
sions’ renderings of Exod 20 : 4a’s injunction
II. Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
III. Greco-Roman Antiquity
against making any pesel (lit. “carved out”) or idol
IV. New Testament (= εδωλον, LXX): e.g., KJV, GNV, RSV, NIV, and
V. Judaism most standard versions in French (image ; e.g., Mar-
VI. Christianity tin, 1744; Darby, 1867; Louis Segond, 1910), Italian
VII. Islam (immagine; Giovanni Diodati, 1649; Riveduta, 1927),
VIII. Literature and Spanish (imagen; Reina Valera, 1569; Reina Val-
IX. Visual Arts era Gómez, 2004). Certain other versions render pe-
X. Music sel in this verse as “idol”: e.g., in English, NASB and
XI. Film
RSV; and in Spanish (idolo), La Biblia de las Américas
(1986) and La nueva Biblia de los Hispanos (2005).
I. Introduction 2. The Notion of “Image” Informing the Articles in
In poetic theory, “image” and “imagery” are said to this Entry. The primary notion of “image” that in-
be “among the most widely used and poorly under- forms the present entry is not its more modern asso-
stood terms …, occurring in so many different con- ciation with “idol,” i.e., a sculptured, cast, or mod-
texts that it may well be impossible to provide any eled portrayal of a deity or person used as an object
rational, systematic account of their usage” (Mitch- of worship (see “Idols, Idolatry”; and also OED, s.v.
ell/Glavey: 660). The same is true of the use of these “Idol”). Nor is the informing notion the idea of
two terms in other fields as well. In the context of “image” in Gen 1 : 26–27’s sense of the human be-
EBR, “image” and “imagery” present a special chal- ing’s having been made in God’s ṣelem (cf. Gen
lenge stemming from the multiplicity of the mean- 9 : 6) – a term that is rendered as “image” in those
ings of the terms, and also from the differing ways verses in virtually all standard English Bible ver-
in which they tend to be used by scholars of the sions, but that often connotes in Hebrew a “statue”
Bible on the one hand, and on the other hand by or “likeness,” as of a human being (see “Image of
scholars in areas such as literary and art history in God”).
which the study of biblical reception comes into Though semantically related to these more con-
play. Here, an attempt will be made to explain how crete denotations of statue, picture, or likeness, the

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notion of “image” that informs this entry is one 1972) 363–70. ■ Frye, N., The Great Code: The Bible and Lit-
that began to develop in English as late as the 16th erature (New York 1982). ■ Holman, C. H., “Image” and
century: the representation in the mind of a sensory expe- “Imagery” in id., A Handbook to Literature (Indianapolis, Ind./
New York 31972) 263–64, 264–65. ■ Lewis, T. L., “Imago,”
rience or of an object that is knowable through at least one
in id., A Latin Dictionary (Oxford 1879) 888. ■ Mitchell,
of the senses (cf. Holman: 263; Friedman: 363; see W. J. T./B. Glavey, “Image,” Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry
also OED, s.v., “image 6.a–b; 7.a”). Linguistically, and Poetics (ed. R. Greene; Princeton/Oxford 42012) 660–62.
any word that names a concrete object (e.g., a tree) ■ Oxford English Dictionary [OED] (32009; available at:
or action (e.g., running), or, for that matter, an ob- www.oed.com; accessed October 8, 2015). ■ Ryken, L. et al.
ject engaged in an action (e.g., a burning bush), (eds.), Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (Downers Grove, Ill.
constitutes an image, and any object, action, or ac- 1998).
tive object that we can picture or imagine is an im- Eric Ziolkowski
age (cf. Ryken/Wilhoit/Longman: xiii), with the
word “imagery” denoting the use of such images II. Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
collectively (OED, s.v. “imagery 4.a–b”). In turn, im- The language of religion is generally rich in im-
ages in this sense can bear either literal or figurative agery and so are biblical texts. Especially biblical
meanings: e.g., the cross on which Jesus was cruci- poetry like hymns, laments, victory songs, love
fied might conjure the literal image of two wood- poems, wisdom instructions or prophetic speech
beams, one beam shorter than the other, with the show a great variety of images.
shorter one being attached at its midpoint perpen- Images offer a new and alternative ways of see-
dicularly across the longer, about two-thirds up the ing and constructing reality, inspiring an interac-
longer beam; at the same time, figuratively, the tion between the literary production and reception
cross image might also evoke the suffering of Jesus of meaning. Images depend on the imagination of
and/or his conquest of death. the author and the readers alike. When images con-
The specific concern of the following articles is vey main contents through the imaginative power
with images and imagery in both the HB/OT and of the recipients, it follows that their meaning is
the NT, especially (a) as such images manifest them- not determined. They rather induce a vagueness of
selves in the forms of symbols, allegories, meta- meaning and are always open for a range of expla-
phors, and similes (see also “Symbol, Symbolism”; nations. Hence any interpretation can only show a
“Allegory”; “Metaphor”; “Simile”; and Ryken et al.: broad concept of meaning (Zimmermann: 108–9).
xiii–xv), and then also (b) as all of these sorts of Images are, of course, not restricted to literature
biblical images and imageries have been adapted but are of equal importance in art. This article,
from the Bible into the thinking, teachings, litur- however, can only offer a brief overview of imagery
gies, and other expressions of postbiblical Jews, in biblical texts.
Christians, and Muslims, as well as into the various Although there is a broad consensus that under-
genres of literature, visual arts, music, and film. In standing images is crucial for understanding the
sum, the articles that follow, including the one on texts, the terms image and imagery are not pre-
visual arts, focus not so much upon statues, pic- cisely defined. They are, instead, used in a wide var-
tures, and other art works themselves as images, iety of ways, thus “image is a term which designates
but rather, mainly, upon prominent images and im- both metaphor and description, both a purely lin-
agery within the Bible, and the subsequent reception of guistic relation between words and a referential re-
those biblical images and imagery. lation to a nonlinguistic reality, both a rhetorical
For a systematic treatment of some of the more device and a psychological event” (Mitchell: 557).
widely recurrent “archetypal” images or imagery The term imagery has often been applied partic-
from the Bible, e.g., agricultural, pastoral, para- ularly to the figurative language used in a literary
disal, urban, demonic, apocalyptic, spiritual or an- work. The most important concepts in this regard
gelic, and so forth, see Frye 1982. See Ryken et al.: are: metaphor, simile, metonymy, personification,
xviii–xx for a broad schematization that classifies synecdoche, allegory, symbol (Friedman: 560).
archetypal images according to “category of experi- The essence of these images is frequently de-
ence” (e.g., supernatural agents and settings, hu- scribed as “the juxtaposition of two different levels
man characters, clothing, food, etc.); “ideal experi- of meaning” (Watson: 270). This could be a single
ence” (e.g., God, angels, etc.; hero or heroine, word, evoking a literal picture together with vari-
virtuous wife/husband/mother/father, etc.; stately ous connotations or overtones, as well as a combina-
garments, festal garments, etc.; staple foods such as tion of words or utterances creating a totally new
bread, milk, meat, etc.); and “unideal experience” meaning.
(Satan, demons, etc.; villain, tempter, etc.; ill-fitting In the case of metaphor (see “Metaphor”) or
garments, mourning garments, etc.; hunger, simile, but also parallelism, an interaction between
drought, etc.). two separate things or concepts that do not neces-
Bibliography: ■ Friedman, N., “Imagery,” Princeton Encyclo- sarily occur together is created (Berlin/Brettler:
pedia of Poetry and Poetics (ed. A. Preminger; Princeton, N.J. 2097–104).

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For example, in the lines “their inmost self is toms, lifestyle, politics, or anthropologic concepts,
destruction / an open grave is their throat” (Ps including concepts of the body (cf. Schroer/Staubli).
5 : 10), parts of the adversary’s body are equated Yet other images derive from the mythology of
with an abstract entity, destruction, or a structure, neighboring civilizations (e.g., Isa 14 : 12; Watson:
a grave. The interaction of these different things 271). Furthermore, images may also have a history
marks the adversaries as life threatening danger. of their own which can be assumed by poets for
In contrast to metaphors, which constitute an their original audiences (Strawn: 308). A thorough
interaction between different concepts, metonymy investigation of imagery in biblical and non-biblical
and synechdoche substitute one word with another texts thus may help to trace typical contexts of im-
on the basis of some close relation. It thus provides ages and traces of an image’s history. Such surveys
access to a concept through another part of the must also include the non-textual background of
same concept (Wallace: 783): for example, place for images. Especially artistic remains provide an im-
a condition: pit for death (Ps 30 : 3; 88 : 6); body part portant source for biblical images as the pioneering
for the person: npš (vital power) for the person e.g., work of Keel, Uehlinger, Schroer, and Staubli has
Ps 57 : 2.7; 63 : 2, 6, 9; tool for an action: sword for shown. In addition to texts, art may also offer a
war (Jer 46 : 10; Ezek 33 : 27; Mic 6 : 14; Nah 3 : 15); window into the images of the ancient world.
tongue for speech (e.g., Gen 10 : 5, 20; Deut 28 : 49; The function of images is almost as manifold as
Isa 28 : 11; Jer 18 : 18; Job 6 : 30). their appearance. They have a rhetorical function
Personification treats inanimate objects or non- enlivening a text, but images are more than embel-
human creatures as if they were a person, thus cre- lishing language and texts. They affect the readers
ating a vivid image and emphasizing one aspect or by integrating them more strongly into the con-
characteristic element. It offers a way of “taking struction of meaning. Images challenge the imagi-
hold of things which appear startlingly uncontrol- nation of the audience and require them to embark
lable” (Arthos: 902): for example, the threatening on new combinations of meaning and subsequently
aspect of the Sheol (or Isa 3 : 26; 5 : 14; Ps 18 : 6). new perspectives of reality.
In a similar way, an apostrophe uses an inani- Emphasizing one specific aspect of a thing or
mate object as addressee (e.g., Jer 47 : 6; Isa 23 : 4,12; motive, like personification or metonymy, they in-
23 : 1,14; Mic 6 : 9). vite the readers to focus and thus to shift their per-
A symbol is a word or phrase that beyond its spective and recognize an unusual facet or action.
literal meaning also represents something else. Metaphors and similes even lead a step further.
Since almost everything can be seen as standing for Their often daring combinations of autonomous
something else, the term symbol has a broad range. concepts urge the percipients to create new in-
Most times symbols emerge as shared language/ sights.
images in a culture (see “Symbol, Symbolism”). Furthermore, images often add evaluations, and
For example, “living water” may stand for the life- thereby articulate needs and desires, as they express
giving aspect of God (Jer 2 : 13; 17 : 13; Zech 14 : 8; a beneficial or inimical relationship between a cer-
Joh 4 : 10; Rev 7 : 17; 21 : 6; 22 : 17). tain thing and the needs of the lyrical speaker (e.g.,
Images not only occur as isolated images, but Prov 17 : 22). Hence, images can modify the com-
they also form constellations and patterns, image municative structure of an utterance, and be instru-
fields, characterizing a whole text. Or, like an alle- ments for the stimulation of emotions (MacCor-
gory (see “Allegory”), a whole story may refer to a mac: 160).
second distinct meaning hidden behind its literal Bibliography: ■ Alter, R., The Art of Biblical Poetry (New York
meaning. For example, Jotham’s speech (Judg 9 : 8– 1985). ■ Arthos, J., “Personification,” The New Princeton En-
15) presents a story of trees looking for a king. cyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (ed. A. Preminger/T.V.F. Bro-
While on a literal level it looks like a fairy tale, the gan; Princeton, N.J. 1993) 902. ■ Berlin, A./M. Z. Brettler
narrative context reveals its highly metaphorical (eds.), The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford 2004). ■ Friedman, N.,
“Imagery,” The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics
rhetoric and its function as a critical, prophetic re-
(ed. A. Preminger/T.V.F. Brogan; Princeton, N.J. 1993) 559‒
flection. The core image unfolded in several varia- 66. ■ Gibbs Jr., R. W. (ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Meta-
tions is the metaphor “the king is a tree.” phor and Thought (Cambridge Handbooks of Psychology;
In order to understand images, the reader’s Cambridge 2008). ■ Keel, O., Die Welt der altorientalischen
knowledge and familiarity with their cultural set- Bildsymbolik und das Alte Testament (Cologne 1972). ■ Keel,
tings is required. User and reader must share the O., Gods, Goddesses, and Images of God in Ancient Israel (Minne-
same context, language, and world-view. For bibli- apolis, Minn. 1998). ■ MacCormac, E. R., A Cognitive Theory
cal images, it is thus important to gain some kind of Metaphor (Cambridge, Mass. 31990). ■ Mitchell, W. J. T.,
“Image,” The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics
of access to their meaning in their ancient context.
(ed. A. Preminger/T.V.F. Brogan; Princeton, N.J. 1993) 556‒
As many of the images are derived from natural 59. ■ Ryken, L. et al. (eds.), Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
phenomena, it is, e.g., necessary to know the fauna (Downers Grove, Ill. 1998). ■ Schroer, S./O. Keel, Die Ikono-
and flora of biblical Israel, agricultural practices or graphie Palästinas/Israels und der Alte Orient, 3 vols. (Fribourg
geographic settings. Of equal importance are cus- 2005–11). ■ Schroer, S./T. Staubli, Die Körpersymbolik der

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Bibel (Darmstadt 1998). ■ Strawn, B. A., “Image,” Dictionary 10.596e–598d encapsulates the idea that the image
of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings (ed. T. Long- produced by an artist (the painted chair) is only the
mann III/P. Enns; Downers Grove, Ill. 2008) 306‒14. copy of a physical object (the chair produced by a
■ Wallace, M., “Metonymy,” The New Princeton Encyclopedia of
carpenter) which, in turn, is a representation of the
Poetry and Poetics (ed. A. Preminger/T. V. F. Brogan; Prince-
ton, N.J. 1993) 783. ■ Watson, W. G. E., “Hebrew Poetry,” truly existing form (the idea of a chair) crafted by
in Text in Context: Essays by Members of the Society for Old Testa- God (597b). Thus, image carried the meaning of a
ment Study (ed. A. D. H. Mayes; Oxford 2000) 253‒85. secondary or tertiary reality. It was often used, due
■ Zimmermann, R., “Metapherntheorie und biblische Bild- to its persuasive quality, in a pejorative sense to de-
sprache: Ein methodologischer Versuch,“ TZ 56 (2000) note a false or distorted presentation of reality. Be-
108‒33. cause of its position between being and non-being,
Susanne Gillmayr-Bucher the image appeared as an epistemological problem
in the Sophist (240a–d), Plato himself (Tim. 92c)
III. Greco-Roman Antiquity paved a way for more positive appreciation.
1. Terminology. While a wide range of terms has On this basis, a reevaluation of the image took
been employed to designate different forms of pic- place in Middle-Platonic thinking along with a ree-
torial representation in language (μεταφορ [meta- valuation of the physical world in its potential to
phor], λληγορα [allegory], παραβολ [parable], lead to the sphere of the truth and to God. On ac-
μοιτης [simile], σμβολον [symbol], μθος [myth], count of their actual ontological relation, images
ανιγμα [riddle]) as well as in the visual arts provide the only possible access to the otherwise
(εδωλον, ναθημα, πναξ, ξανον, γλυφ, σφραγς, unknowable divine. The image was thus turned
κολοσσς, σ"μα, τπος , #κμαγε$ον), the most com- into a hermeneutical tool. The Platonic philosopher
prehensive ancient term is image (εκν). Used in Plutarch develops a full-fledged theory of images
pagan-religious as well as Hellenistic-Jewish and (Eltester: 60–68; Hirsch-Luipold), which allow him
early Christian texts (Willms; Eltester), the term en- to critically assess different representations of the
compasses the various forms of artistic, pictorial or divine in various cultures and religious systems and
parabolic representation. Moreover, in a Platonic even to incorporate iconoclastic tendencies as initi-
framework it even incorporates the ontological vi- ated among Greek intellectuals through their con-
sion of the physical world as an image of the noetic tact with Hellenistic Judaism. This also allows him
sphere of God (Plato, Tim. 92c; Plutarch, Is. Os. to appreciate or at least accept foreign forms of wor-
372F–373A: εκ%ν γ&ρ #στιν ο'σας #ν (λῃ γ)νεσις ship, including the generally despised worship of
κα* μμημα το +ντος τ, γινμενον; cf. 371A–B; Egyptian animal-gods: while Plutarch is often
373B; Tranq. an. 477C–D; An. procr. 1013C; Hirsch- thought of as being critical of Egyptian animal-
Luipold: 159–224; Fazzo: 61–113). In his allegorical gods (Richter), he elevates these images of the di-
interpretation of the biblical account of the creation vine above the famous Greek chryselephantine stat-
of man in God’s image (Gen 1 : 27) the Jewish phi- ues of Pheidias as a rhetorical move. If not falsely
losopher and exegete Philo of Alexandria accumu- regarded and worshipped as the gods themselves,
lates a whole range of terms surrounding εκν (πα- but as images, they indicate one of the most impor-
ρδειγμα, πεικνισμα, πεικονζεσθαι, σκι, tant features of the divine, namely its vitality. The
ρχ)τυπος, χαρακτρ; Leg. 3.95–98 on Gen 1 : 27) in Greek images, on the other hand, are made up of
order to describe the relation between 1) the creator dead material and thus “in worth even below dead
as the first παρδειγμα; 2) the creational word (λ- corpses” (Is. Os. 76.382B). To clarify the troubling
γος) as the creator’s shadow and as the second πα- relation between God and the physical world, Plu-
ρδειγμα; and 3) creation. tarch used the comparison of an imprint in wax,
While image (εκν) is used in ancient dis- ultimately derived from Plato’s Theaet. 191c: the re-
course, imagery is a modern conceptualization. presented reality is visible while not physically
However, imagery is widely used by some authors present (cf. Plutarch, Pyth. orac. 404C).
(Plutarch, Maximus, Porphyry) not only in poetry Clement of Alexandria summarizes the more
and rhetoric, but also in religious and even philo- positive evaluation of images when stating that
sophical texts of late Hellenistic and early Imperial while an image is a mere shadow, its value lies in
times through theoretical reflections on their rhe- its showing at least the shape of the represented
torical, educational, and hermeneutical role. reality. This Middle-Platonic view of the image has
2. Ontology, Epistemology, and Hermeneutics. been used as a backdrop to Johannine use of im-
The basis for all philosophical usage of images was agery (Zimmermann; Attridge).
Plato’s concept of the phenomenal world as repre- Despite its abundant usage of christological im-
senting an image of the intelligible (Plato Resp.; agery, the Gospel of John transgresses the bounda-
Soph. 239c–240b; Vernant; Böhme: 7–25) along with ries of Platonism with the statement in John 1 : 18
his theory of representation in language (Crat. that the divine logos became flesh (which may ex-
432b–d; 439b). Creating images was linked to mi- plain why the term image is never used in the
mesis. Plato’s famous parable of the chair in Resp. Fourth Gospel).

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Just like myths, visions, or dreams, images can- bolism in De Iside et Osiride includes extended reflec-
not clearly be distinguished from reality and are not tions on how religious images – both Egyptian and
simply translatable into discursive language; see for Greek – are to be interpreted. In addition to reli-
example Turnus’ dream in Virgil Aen. 7.413–466: gious imagery, Plutarch uses images from fields as
the burning torch thrown into Turnus’ chest by the diverse as biology and history, medicine, music, and
Fury Allecto makes him sweat (physically) and mathematics (for an overview see Fuhrmann). This
causes his fury to boil over (psychologically) like a is followed by several authors of the later Platonic
kettle under fire (metaphorically). tradition. Plutarch’s didactic use of imagery influ-
3. Rhetoric, Pedagogy, and Hermeneutics. De- enced early Christian theology (Clement; Origen)
spite Plato’s critical remarks on the ontological sta- and preaching (Basil). Porphyry presents an ex-
tus of images, he is already well aware of their peda- tended allegorical interpretation of the Homeric
gogical and hermeneutical importance and thus tale of the grotto of the nymphs (Il. 13.102–112) in
makes ample use of metaphorical language in his De antro nympharum, which contains rich reflections
philosophy. Arguably, his most influential meta- on the ways in which mythological fiction (μυθ-
phor was that of the demiurge in the Timaeus. Ac- ριον πλσμα) may in fact allude to images of the
cording to ancient rhetorical theory, the use of im- divine (εκνας τ/ν θειοτ)ρων; ch. 36). In his largely
agery was related to evidentia or #νργεια (cf. lost treatise On images, Porphyry reflects on the
Lausberg: §§ 810–19). Its function is to bring about philosophical interpretations of statues and their
vividness in a declamation and to render philo- attributes. As a philosophical teacher writing under
sophical propositions and ethical instructions evi- the reign of emperor Marcus Aurelius, Maximus of
dent. When employed in philosophical and reli- Tyre shows in On images (Or. 2) how much this topic
gious texts, images are often grouped together as was of philosophical interest. The orator Dio Chry-
clusters, or formed into overarching motifs (Freed- sostom dedicates one of his speeches to the statue
man) constituting an element of text coherence and of Zeus in Olympia (Or. 12), discussing it as an espe-
at the same time carrying distinct philosophical or cially fitting image of divine power and grace. The
theological messages. widely read anonymous Tablet of Cebes presents an
allegory of life in the rhetorical form of an ekphra-
4. Interpretation of Imagery as Reappropriation
sis – a description of a votive offering to the temple
of Tradition. In Hellenistic and Roman imperial
of Kronos in Thebes.
times religious traditions are reinterpreted as im-
ages, either of the divine or of a life in accordance Bibliography: ■ Attridge, H. W., “The Cubist Principle in
with the divine, and thereby reappropriated in a Johannine Imagery: John and the Reading of Images in Con-
philosophical or ethical way. In Hellenistic Judaism temporary Platonism,” in Imagery in the Gospel of John (ed. J.
Frey et al.; WUNT 200; Tübingen 2006) 47–60. ■ Boehm,
(Aristobulus; Letter of Aristeas; Philo), allegorical in-
G. (ed.), Was ist ein Bild? (Munich 1994). ■ Böhme, G., Theo-
terpretation of the Mosaic law becomes a way of rie des Bildes (Munich 2004). ■ Eltester, F.-W., Eikon im
making sense of Jewish dietary laws and of the nar- Neuen Testament (Berlin 1958). ■ Fazzo, V., La giustificazione
rative traditon of the Torah for a Greek-philosophi- delle immagini religiose dalla tarda antichità al cristianesimo, vol.
cal audience by way of an ethical and anagogical 1: La tarda antichità, con un’ Appendice sull’ Iconoclasmo bizantino
interpretation. Philo’s whole project of an allegori- (Naples 1977). ■ Fuhrmann, F., Les images de Plutarque

cal commentary on the Torah can be viewed as a (Paris 1964). ■ Hardie, P. R., “Plutarch and the Interpreta-
pictorial interpretation of this founding document tion of Myth,” ANRW.2 33.6 (Berlin 1992) 4743–87.
■ Hirsch-Luipold, R., Plutarchs Denken in Bildern: Studien zur
of his religious tradition attributing to it a second
literarischen, philosophischen und religiösen Funktion des Bildhaf-
layer of meaning: the story about the flight from
ten (STAC 14; Tübingen 2002). ■ Vernant, J.-P., “Image et
Egypt in fact narrates the soul’s strife to free itself apparence dans la théorie platoniciennede la mimêsis,” Jour-
from the body. Allegorizing of Jewish law is taken nal de Psychologie 72 (1975) 133–60. ■ Willms, H., Eikon:
up in a Christian context in the Epistle of Barnabas, Eine begriffsgeschichtliche Untersuchung zum Platonismus (Müns-
and later in the Physiologus, a handbook of christo- ter 1935). ■ Zimmermann, R., Christologie der Bilder im Jo-
logical imagery (mainly animals, but also stones hannesvangelium: Die Christopoetik des vierten Evangeliums unter
and trees) probably dating from the 2nd or 3rd cen- besonderer Berücksichtigung von Joh 10 (WUNT 171; Tübingen
tury CE (see “Physiologus”). 2004).
The most extended and elaborate use of im- Rainer Hirsch-Luipold
agery in a religious-philosophical context is found
in Plutarch. His images are taken from a range of IV. New Testament
traditions, from Greece and Rome to Egypt, Persia The NT uses a diversity of images to communicate
and India. Especially the writings of his later years, its message. These are not secondary or ornamental
when Plutarch served as a priest of Apollo at Del- but intrinsic to its meaning. The most significant of
phi, discuss the rich symbolism surrounding the the images take on the quality of religious symbols
sanctuary of Apollo (E Delph.) with its manifold vo- which contain and articulate theological truth. As
tive offerings (Pyth. orac.) as images of the divine. symbols, they are not simply signposts pointing
The discussion of Egyptian myth (Hardie) and sym- elsewhere but bearers of meaning.

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The NT, e.g., makes extensive use of agricul- tended to represent the panoply of the Christian
tural and farming imagery. The parables of the Syn- warrior’s armor – the belt, the breastplate, the foot-
optics are a good example (Mark 4 : 1–34 par.), with wear, the shield, the helmet – all signifying faith
their use of planting, growing and reaping as im- and salvation, the believer thereby defended against
ages of the reign of God and its mysterious presence the powers of evil (Eph 6 : 11–17). In 2 Corinthians
in the world. John’s gospel uses images of sheepfold light is associated with the divine glory and the rev-
and vine (John 10 : 1–18; 15 : 1–17), which draw elation of Sinai (2 Cor 3 : 7–18), not the physical
their meaning from the HB/OT depiction of Israel. light of the sun but the glory of God’s self-revela-
In 1 Corinthians Paul uses agricultural imagery to tion, a revelation enabling believers to be desig-
speak of the church’s leaders and the cooperative nated as “children of light” (1 Thess 5 : 5; Eph 5 : 8).
spirit of their ministry (3 : 5–9). It implies that the God’s own being is imaged as light without a hint
church requires different gifts to flourish, without of darkness (1 John 1 : 5).
conflict or competition. The book of Revelation Other imagery is associated with daily human
concludes with a vision of the heavenly city which activities: eating, drinking, washing, walking, run-
has as its center a garden and an avenue of trees on ning, following, fishing, seeing, hearing. Each im-
either side of a river (22 : 1–2). The imagery here age is used of an aspect of discipleship or the con-
connotes the final union of nature and civilization, nection with God or the mission of the church.
a reference to the restoration of Eden. These images link salvation to the everyday, enclos-
Another example is relational imagery. The ing the extraordinary in the ordinary, the numi-
prominence of these images reflects a culture in nous in the pedestrian, thus making it possible for
which individual identity is embedded in the fam- the reader to mark the connections between
ily. Particularly frequent is the image of father and “above” and “below,” the present and God’s future,
son which, grounded in the experience and spiritu- the material and the spiritual.
ality of the historical Jesus, depicts the intimacy of Perhaps the most remarkable of NT images is
the relationship between God and Jesus. In John’s that of the cross. In its own day an image (and expe-
Gospel, the role of Jesus as Son is unique; Jesus rience) of shameful and painful death (i.e., the hu-
speaks of “my Father” (John 2 : 16; 5 : 17) rather miliating exposure for acts of sedition against im-
than “our Father” (as in the Lord’s Prayer, Matt perial authority), it becomes for NT theologians the
6 : 9; Luke 11 : 2). Paul sees the believer as entering icon of salvation. This imaginative transposition
into Jesus’ relationship with God, so that he or she lies at the heart of biblical theology. The means of
can name God as “abba” (Rom 8 : 15). An extension degradation and death becomes in God’s hands, ac-
of this imagery is that of believers as brothers and cording to the NT writings, the image par excel-
lence of hope and new life. For Mark, Matthew, and
sisters to one another, all belonging to the one
Paul, the contrast is apparent in their emphasis on
“family” of God, a circle of intimacy and belonging
the powerlessness of the cross as the paradoxical
(Acts 14 : 2; Gal 5 : 13).
demonstration of divine power (Mark 15 : 34 par.;
Imagery from the natural world is also present.
1 Cor 1 : 18–25). The cross here is imaged as the
Animal images belong in this group, the most re-
lowest point transformed in the resurrection to
markable being that of Jesus as the Lamb of God
reach the heights of divine glory. For Luke, the
(John 1 : 29; 1 Cor 5 : 7; Rev 5 : 12–13). The Spirit is
cross is the symbol of forgiving love (23 : 42–43).
depicted in the image of a dove (Mark 1 : 10 par.).
For Hebrews, it is encased in the symbolism of the
The righteous are sheep and the unrighteous goats,
temple cult, with its focus on high priest, sacrifice,
separated at nightfall in the Great Judgment (Matt
and atonement (5 : 7–10; 9 : 11–14). For John, the
25 : 31–46). The Sermon on the Mount uses imagery cross itself is an event of exaltation and glory, re-
of birds and wildflowers to depict a life free of anxi- vealing the loving and life-giving nature of God
ety (Matt 6 : 26–29). Light and darkness are also (12 : 32; 17 : 1).
common images that reflect the natural cycle of day These and other core images, read within their
and night. Light is an image of the gift of new life. literary contexts, articulate vibrantly the message of
Thus Jesus is the light of the world, leading his fol- the NT in its diversity. The use of imagery and sym-
lowers out of darkness (John 8 : 12); the community bol as a primary method of communication de-
of faith is a light for others, a beacon of righteous- mands a corresponding response from the reader,
ness in the surrounding darkness (Matt 5 : 14); Paul particularly through imagination: the power to see
is struck by a blinding light on the Damascus road, and grasp the images and their significance for
signifying his transformation from persecutor to faith.
believer (Acts 9 : 3).
Bibliography: ■ Burridge, R. A., Four Gospels, One Jesus? A
A variation on the light imagery is that of ar- Symbolic Reading (Grand Rapids, Mich. 2005). ■ Collins, R.
mor. The Christian, says Paul, is to be clothed para- F., The Power of Images in Paul (Collegeville, Pa. 2008).
doxically in light, an element at once insubstantial ■ Ryken, L./J. C. Wilhoit (eds.), Dictionary of Biblical Imagery

and transparent, protective because it is redolent of (Downers Grove, Ill. 1998).


God (Rom 13 : 12). In Ephesians, this image is ex- Dorothy A. Lee

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V. Judaism imagery by which he is depicted invites a compari-
■ Second Temple and Hellenistic Judaism ■ Rabbinic son with descriptions of heavenly beings from the
Judaism HB/OT prophetic corpus and Canaanite literature.
A. Second Temple and Hellenistic Judaism The vision of the heavenly throne has further cog-
nates both within apocalyptic literature and in
In written works produced by Judaism of the Helle-
nistic period many of the prevailing types of im- other texts that some scholars have termed mysti-
agery seen in the literature that came to be included cal. These examples exist within a richly figurative
in the HB/OT can also be observed. Some of this description of the course of history directed within
similar employment of figurative language is likely a heavenly court, and similar examples exist
due to Hellenistic Jewish literature’s shared cultural throughout apocalyptic literature of Hellenistic Ju-
milieu with the texts of the HB/OT. Not only did daism, such as 1 Enoch, Hazon Gabriel, or 3 Baruch.
Hellenistic Jewish texts participate in the same ex- Although it is unclear from a modern perspective
change of ideas and concepts with surrounding cul- to what extent this type of imagery is intended to
tures in the Levant, Mesopotamia, and the Eastern provide a definitive statement on the identity of di-
Mediterranean, but it is increasingly clear that these vine beings or the cosmic order, it is clear that apo-
texts were also being created and transmitted calyptic and mystical literature (like Joseph and Ase-
alongside the “biblical” texts without categorical neth and the Testament of Job) of the Hellenistic
distinction. Thus, because HB/OT texts like Qohe- period heavily relies on the combination of images
leth, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and 1–2 Chronicles from the natural world to describe supernatural be-
are themselves likely to be products of Hellenistic ings and events using figurative language like met-
Judaism, and most other “biblical” texts continued aphor, simile, and personification.
to be transformed during the transmission process, A second novel use of figurative language ob-
we should expect considerable overlap in the em- served within literature of Hellenistic Judaism
ployment of literary imagery. Moreover, Hellenistic comes in the form of allegory. The prominence of
Jewish texts evince some uses of literary imagery allegory in this literature may be related to the par-
that are employed in a way that might be termed allel use of allegory among the Greeks in reading
exegetical in that they create multiple layers of poetry and didactic texts, especially the epics of Ho-
meaning from a text in the process of reading and mer. Particular to Hellenistic Judaism, this type of
interpretation. This exegetical relationship to exist- creation of multiple layers of meaning in texts is in
ing written works, which are frequently recogniz- evidence both in composition and exegesis. So, for
able as texts that came to be included in the HB/OT,
example, while a text like Let. Aris. 142–71, employs
further facilitates the continuity of imagery be-
allegory to interpret the true meaning behind the
tween all these texts. Despite the general continuity
dietary laws contained in the Pentateuch, a text like
with the HB/OT that is observed in the use of figu-
the animal apocalypse of 1 En. 85–90 independently
rative language there are several ways in which cer-
tain types of imagery rise to greater prominence in relates the history of the world in the form of an
the literature of Hellenistic Judaism. Perhaps the allegory. Both the exegetical and compositional use
best-known use of imagery within this literature of allegory are observed in a wide variety of literary
comes in the apocalyptic descriptions of supernatu- genres. Philo of Alexandria, in Abr. 50–52 uses the
ral beings populating alternate, often heavenly, re- stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as a means to
alities imagined by Hellenistic Jewish scribes. An reflect on the nature of the soul in a way that blends
extraordinary and influential example comes in allegorical exegesis with philosophical composi-
Dan 7, wherein a series of supernatural beasts is tion. Quite distinctly, Pesher Nahum (4Q169) – as
described using rich simile and metaphor from the well as other “continuous pesharim,” which are
natural world. One of these beasts looks “like a lion running commentaries on scriptural writings found
with wings like an eagle,” which is later set upon at Qumran – uses the text of Nahum to interpret
“human feet” and given a “human heart” (Dan historical realities of the 1st century BCE. Despite
7 : 4). This grotesque imagery of the beast is a zoo- the differences in genre and aims in these cases, al-
morphic representation of the first of four periods legory is prominently employed as an expression of
of history, usually interpreted as the Neo-Babylo- figurative language.
nian empire. Thus, multiple levels of meaning are
Bibliography: ■ Aaron, D. H., Biblical Ambiguities: Metaphor,
conveyed through the use of figurative language in
Semantics, and Divine Imagery (Leiden 2001). ■ Collins, J., The
a single vision. Another figure in this same vision is Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to the Jewish Matrix of
called “ancient of days,” whose “cloak is like white Christianity (Grand Rapids, Mich./Cambridge 21998).
snow, and the hair on his head is like pure wool. ■ Niehoff, M. R., Jewish Exegesis and Homeric Scholarship in Al-

His throne is like fiery flame, and its wheels are of exandria (Cambridge 2011). ■ Portier-Young, A. E., Apoca-
burning fire” (Dan 7 : 9). The figure is often inter- lypse against Empire: Theologies of Resistance in Early Judaism
preted as a personification of a supreme deity, (Grand Rapids, Mich. 2011).
either YHWH, or another Levantine god, and the Francis Borchardt

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B. Rabbinic Judaism used to parallel two people or two events, as in the
As many have noted, metaphors and imagery in equation of the first and second destructions of the
general reflect, preserve, and perpetuate certain re- temple (EkhR 22). Metaphors and metonyms lack,
alities and prevalent concepts of their societies by definition, any introductory formula.
(Goatly; Satlow 2000). Rabbinic imagery owes much 3. Images for God. God is most commonly likened
of its symbolic lexicon to the biblical legacy of idi- to a father and a king. The numerous parables (mes-
oms, but it offers a variety of new and innovative halim) of a king (e.g., PRK 16.9; EkhR 1 : 3; yBer 1 : 4)
symbols as well. relate to God’s features as a ruler, with many offer-
1. Purposes of Imagery. The purposes of imagery ing a story about a king and a son (WayR 25 : 1; PRK
are manifold. Parables may be used to delicately ex- 15.4; bBer 32 : 1), or a king building a new palace as
press views that might be offensive. The most glar- an allegory to God’s creation (BerR 1 : 1; Tan Tazria
ing example is R. Johanan’s grievance against God 3) or the temple (LevR 1 : 7). Some parables expand
for not saving Abel, likening him to a king who on a biblical verse referring to God as king (bKet
allows gladiators to struggle before him although it 105b), and the common title “master of the uni-
is in his power to spare their lives (BerR 22 : 10; cf. verse” complements the narrative parables with a
Halbertal 1998 and further examples there). Im- common usage deriving from the same notion (e.g.,
agery is used to achieve visual accuracy within a tex- bBer 55b; bEr 19a; bPes 87a; on the king parables see
tual tradition, as seen in the discussion of various also Ziegler; Appelbaum), as does his epithet “King
shades of red for the purpose of identification of of kings of kings,” often evoked to contrast the di-
menstrual impurity (mNid 2 : 6–7; cf. the definition vine king with human kings (mSan 4 : 5; bMen 62a;
of yellow in Sifra Tazria 5.7). Sexual euphemisms BerR 8 : 26; EkhR 1 : 16; PRK 20.7). Similarly, God is
are another motivation for imagery, describing sex- likened to a father in numerous parables (MekhY
ual positions through the imagery of an overturned Yitro 2; BerR 35 : 14), and other midrashim refer to
table, or various ways of preparing meat (bNed 20b). Israel as his children (SifDev Eqev 48; bPes 87b). This
Similarly, a king’s scepter is used as a euphemism imagery resurfaces in various usages, as in the title
for the king’s phallus (bSan 22a). A rare case of an “our father in heaven” (mSot 9 : 15; yḤag 2 : 1; WayR
elaborate visual illustration is the description of R. 32 : 1) or in the story of the oven of Akhnai in which
Johanan’s beauty, which rather than describe his God takes pleasure in His defeat by His children
physical features portrays a goblet filled with pome- (bBM 59b). Toenges (96–102) discerned three levels
granate seeds in twilight (bBM 84a). of this image: God as the father of the entire nation,
2. Rabbinic Parables. The most renowned form of the father of the righteous and the sages, and the
rabbinic imagery is the mashal, the rabbinic parable, father of outstanding individuals. Other familial
or simply “analogy” (Aaron: 20). The mashal is com- imagery includes God as the bridegroom of the na-
monly introduced with a formula (Frankel: 3 : 421– tion of Israel (MekhY Yitro 3; tBQ 4 : 6), although Sat-
22), such as “they provide a parable, to what may low (2000: 28–32) notes that this image is infre-
this be likened, to” (e.g., mSuk 2 : 9; tBer 1 : 11; BerR quent in rabbinic literature, and demonstrates how
96 : 29; for a variation in the first person, see Sof even a midrash on Hos 2 : 18 underplays this im-
1.2; bBer 61b). Abbreviated versions of this formula agery by substituting for it the analogy of father
include, “a parable, to what may this be likened?” and sons (bPes 87b).
(tHag 2 : 5; bBer 13a; BerR 17 : 21), “a parable, to” 4. Images for the Torah. Various similes and
(tSuk 2 : 6; bShab 152a–53a), or simply the introduc- metaphors, such as water, fire, deer, iron, and trees,
tory prefix “le-” (“to”) prior to the parable (yBer are provided for the Torah, the sages who study it,
5 : 2; BerR 22 : 10; 55 : 2; WayR 2.:5; QohR 5 : 14). and the righteous, occasionally presented as com-
Frankel distinguishes between the pictorial par- mentary on biblical verses (bYom 29a; bTaan 7a, 25a;
able that depicts a static image and the narrative bSot 21a; bBB 80b; bEr 54a). The Torah is also de-
parable that includes a developing plot (Frankel: scribed as a breast that never loses milk (bEr 54b),
3 : 422–24). The distinction between a succinct pic- and as a potion that can either enliven or become
torial parable and a simile can be unclear and is poisonous depending on the purpose of study
founded on grammar. The parable is identified (bTaan 7a).
through the aforementioned formulae, whereas the The rabbis placed a high value on Torah study
simile is introduced with a “ke-” prefix (“like,” e.g., and employed images relating to storage (Baumgar-
mAv 1 : 3; bTaan 20a; QohR 1 : 2), a “mah … af” for- ten) to convey the importance of a good memory
mula (“what … even”) and a “ke-shem … kakh” for- and to describe various types of scholars and schol-
mula (“just as … so,” e.g., Sof 19.10; KalR 3 : 3; bBek arly approaches. Thus, the kis (pouch or pocket), in
45a). Both “ke-shem … kakh” and “mah … af” formu- which things may be stored, forgotten or concealed
lae are used to explicate and expand metaphors and (bGit 18a), but which is also well-guarded and easily
similes (for the former see ARN A 40; for the latter, accessible, is a useful image of memory (bPes 72a;
KalR 3 : 3; bBer 10a; bEr 15b; bYom 29a, 75a; bTaan bMeg 7b; bKet 50a). Similarly, the quppah (basket) is
7a; bSot 21a; bBB 9b, 16b, 80b). “Mah … af” is also used figuratively for various scholarly qualities: R.

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Aqiva is likened to a laborer who collects in his bas- (mNid 2 : 5). Furthermore, women are said to have
ket anything he finds, and arranges the contents at two doors and two hinges, based on the double
home; R. Johanan b. Nuri is a basket of halakhot, meaning of tsirim as hinges and pangs (bBekh 45a;
whereas R. Eleazar b. Azariah is said to be a ped- WayR 14 : 4; see Kipperwasser: 305–7). The image of
dler’s basket, able to provide anything requested on the table mentioned above as a euphemism for sex-
demand (ARN A 18). ual relations is a further attestation for the image
The accumulation of sin is likened to a quppah of women as a material object in the home. The
full of transgressions (WayR 33 : 3), and Adam and objectification of women is arguably most notable
Eve are shown all the generations lost by their sin, in the language of purchase used to describe mar-
like a man carrying a basket full of glassware which riage (mQid 1 : 1; bKet 16b–17a; see Wegner: 40–70;
is then broken by the glazier (BerR 19 : 7). Various Labovitz: 29–61; Graetz). R. Yose relates that he al-
good deeds and commandments are said to have a ways called his wife his home and his ox his field
principal that is carried on towards one’s share in (bShab 118b; bGit 52a; see Labovitz: 115–17). His
the world to come (mPea 1 : 1; tQid 5 : 16; bShab insistence that he never referred to his wife in any
127a). Another storage-related image is the cham- way other than his home, reveals a heightened sym-
ber. A student should divide his heart into cham- bolic use of language, merging the metaphor and
bers in order to store the conflicting views of the its analogy into one.
schools of Hillel and Shammai (tSot 7 : 12). R. Jo- 6. Miscellany. Some extraordinary examples of
hanan b. Zakkai likens R. Eliezer b. Hyrcanus to a rabbinic imagery include the altar weeping over a
cemented cistern that never loses a drop (mAv 2 : 8; person who divorces his first wife (bGit 90b; bSan
cf. mAv 5 : 15). Related metaphors for different 22a) and the detailed description of the human as a
styles of learning are found in mAv 5 : 15: “there are microcosm (ARN A 31). The Samaritans are meto-
four measures of those sitting in the presence of nymically described as “Garlic Eaters” (mNed 3 : 10;
sages: the sponge, the funnel, the strainer, and the cf. Rosenblum: 45–74 and further examples there),
sieve” (cf. ARN A 40; ARN B 45; SifDev Eqev 48; bḤag and lentils symbolize mourning, either because the
3b; bḤul 89a). lentil seems like a closed mouth, unable to speak;
When mAv 2 : 9 asks “What is the straight path alternatively, just as a lentil is round, so mourning
to which a person should cling?” it employs a ubiq- comes around again and again (bBB 16b). Perhaps
uitous metaphor for righteousness with biblical most surprising is the statement that matchmaking
roots (1 Sam 12 : 23; Isa 45 : 13; Hos 14 : 10; Ps is as difficult for God as the parting of the Red Sea
107 : 7). Among the responses given, R. Johanan b. (WayR 8 : 1; bSan 22a). The meaning is especially ob-
Zakkai favors the “good heart” since it contains fuscated since the miracle should not be difficult
within it the responses of the other students (mAv for the omnipotent God, nor can bringing couples
2 : 9). This passage not only presents a metonymy together be construed as a necessary evil as some
in response to a metaphorical question, but a brief rabbis describe God’s drowning of the Egyptians
exposition on the benefits of the synecdochic uses (bMeg 10b; bSan 39b). In any case, the use of a spe-
of language. Also in mAv (2 : 15), R. Tarfon’s maxim cific biblical event as the symbol of an unrelated
that “the day is short, the task is great, the workers topic is rare.
are lazy, the wage abundant, and the landlord is Bibliography: ■ Aaron, D. H., Biblical Ambiguities: Metaphor,
pressing” is a series of metaphors or perhaps a so- Semantics, and Divine Imagery (Leiden 2001). ■ Appelbaum,
phisticated allegory of life (contrast with the ex- A., The Rabbis’ King-Parables: Midrash from the Third-Century
plicit parable in mAv 4 : 16). Roman Empire (Piscataway, N.J. 2010). ■ Baskin, J. R., Mid-
rashic Women: Formations of the Feminine in Rabbinic Literature
5. Images Related to Women. In addition to bibli- (Hanover, N.H. 2002). ■ Baumgarten, A. I., “Metaphors of
cal images, the rabbis employ new images. Consid- Memory,” in Der Odem des Menschen ist eine Leuchte des Herrn,
erable attention has been given to the various im- FS A. Agus (ed. R. Reichman; Heidelberg 2006) 77–89.
agery referring to women (e.g., Baskin; Boyarin; ■ Boyarin, D., Carnal Israel: Reading Sex in Talmudic Culture

Labovitz; Satlow 2002). The most infamous quote (Berkeley, Calif. 1993). ■ Frankel, Y., Midrash Ve-Aggadah
describes women as a “pitcher of excrement and a (Tel Aviv 1996). ■ Goatly, A., The Language of Metaphors (Ab-
ingdon 22011). ■ Graetz, N., “Is Kinyan (Purchase) of
mouth full of blood” which nevertheless everyone Woman in the Marriage Document only a Metaphor?” Lectio
chases (bShab 152a). Another view describes woman difficilior 2 (2011) (Available at: www.lectio.unibe.ch; ac-
as a golem (perhaps intending a soulless body) until cessed September 30, 2015). ■ Halbertal, M., “If It Were
she is rendered a fruitful vessel by her husband Not a Written Verse It Could Not Be Said,” Tarbiz 68.1
(bSan 22b). The procreation process is likened to (1998) 39–59. [Heb.] ■ Kipperwasser, R., “Body of the

baking by saying that the yeast complements the Whore, Body of the Story and the Metaphor of the Body,”
dough, in the same manner that the (menstruation) in Introduction to Seder Qodashim: A Feminist Commentary on the
Babylonian Talmud V (ed. T. Ilan et al.; Tübingen 2012) 305–
blood complements the woman (bNid 64b). Several 19. ■ Labovitz, G., Marriage and Metaphor: Constructions of
cases liken women to buildings: women’s menstru- Gender in Rabbinic Literature (Lanham, Md. 2009). ■ Rosen-
ation process is described by likening female anat- blum, J. D., Food and Identity in Early Rabbinic Judaism (Cam-
omy to a chamber, a front hall and an upper level bridge 2011). ■ Satlow, M. L., “The Metaphor of Marriage

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931 Image, Imagery 932
in Early Judaism,” in Families and Family Relations (ed. J. W. The proper understanding of the biblical image
van Henten/A. Brenner; Leiden 2000) 12–42. ■ Satlow, M. universe was from the outset a theological task of
L., “Fictional Women: A Study in Stereotypes,” in The Tal- utmost importance for the communication of the
mud Yerushalmi and Graeco-Roman Culture (ed. P. Schäfer; Tü-
Christian salvation message, and from the early
bingen 2002) 225–43. ■ Toenges, E., “The Image of God as
Father as a Response to Political Crises in the First Century
Church onwards hermeneutical strategies were es-
B.C.E,” in Religion Responses to Political Crises (ed. H. Graf Re- tablished that could facilitate the interpretation of
ventlow/Y. Hoffman; New York 2008) 94–108. ■ Wegner, this aspect of scripture in order to capture its spiri-
J. R., Chattel or Person: The Status of Women in the Mishnah tual meaning. Among them the typological ap-
(Oxford 1988). ■ Ziegler, I., Die Königsgleichnisse des Mi- proach, present in the NT, has played a major role
drasch: Beleuchtet durch die römische Kaiserzeit (Breslau 1903). (see “Typology”). This mode of interpretation re-
Aryeh Amihay flects the Christian idea of salvation history where
OT phenomena were perceived as prefigurations
VI. Christianity (types) of the divine salvation act fulfilled in the
The images or imagery of the Bible have contrib- Christ event of the NT. Typological interpretations
uted to a shared or common religious language of are displayed in numerous contexts. A most impor-
Christian social groups or communities throughout tant domain is Christian liturgy. Already in the Pat-
post-biblical history. In this capacity imagery has ristic age the theological elucidations of the liturgi-
served as a principal vehicle or mediator of what cal practises gave rise to typological readings. In the
has been considered essential religious insights and case of the sacrament of baptism, for instance, the
experiences, with a considerable impact on Chris- OT narrative of the deluge (Gen 7), related to the
tian patterns of thought in their various historical destruction of sin, was considered a type that
ramifications. The status and uses of biblical im- pointed to the baptismal water in which the annihi-
agery represent a basic issue in the interpretational lation of the old, sinful person was fulfilled (cf. Jus-
approaches to Christian religion throughout his- tin Martyr [2nd cent.], Dial. 138, 2–3, in accordance
tory, and as such it constitutes a vast, highly fa- with 1 Pet 3 : 18–21). In a similar perspective the
ceted, and complicated research field that is not crossing of the Red Sea at the exodus (Exod 14) was
easy to overview. interpreted as a prefiguration of the destruction of
Reception history relates to the wide spectrum the forces of sin, and of liberation from them, to be
fulfilled in the rite of baptism (cf. Basil, De Spiritu
of image forms or figurative expressions that char-
Sancto; Ambrose, Myst. 12). In the same way the pas-
acterize biblical language. These forms, which are
chal lamb of Exod 12 and the comparison of the
covered by a terminology that historically is not al-
suffering servant with a lamb in Isa 53 : 7 were con-
ways strictly defined or agreed upon, include lin-
sidered prefigurations of the sacrificial death of
guistic devices that are commonly known as meta-
Christ liturgically commemorated in the sacrament
phor, symbol, and simile, as well as longer narrative
of the Eucharist and expressed, for instance, in the
units that function as parables and allegories, or as
liturgical text of the Mass, the Agnus Dei.
histories (stories) with a figurative meaning.
Related to the typological readings is the her-
The prominent role of these language forma-
meneutical approach connected to the allegorical
tions in Christian theological and devotional articu-
method that was developed throughout the history
lations may be considered an effect of a basic fea-
of Christianity in various forms comprising various
ture of the biblical conception of God. The biblical interpretational steps. From a general point of view
God is a concealed God who transcends the human the allegorical approach operates with the literal
or earthly sphere. For this reason God is irrepre- text, or historical layer, as the point of departure for
sentable as indicated by the prohibition against ma- the unveiling of spiritual meaning. The procedure
terial images of the divine. In the biblical context, comprises various steps, such as the allegorical,
however, this prohibition opened up a development pointing to theological meaning; the moral (tro-
and accentuation of the linguistic representation of pological), covering the effect on moral practice;
God that reflected that God is also revealed. and the anagogical, pointing to the eschatological
Through the use of rich imagery a religious lan- meaning. The Venerable Bede (ca. 672–735) exem-
guage was displayed that gave access to the divine, plifies the procedure on the basis of an interpreta-
but in such a way that it did not circumscribe it but tion on the temple of Solomon: the historical mean-
rather pointed towards it. So for instance the ing of the temple is the material building referred
Psalms of David. The image universe of these poeti- to in the OT; the allegorical is the body of Christ or
cal texts have served as an important tool for the the Church; the moral (tropological) aspect pertains
expression of faith throughout the history of Chris- to the temple as an image of moral conduct; and
tian devotion, in public liturgical contexts as well the anagogical meaning points to the eschatological
as in private. We find here, for instance, the shep- fulfilment of salvation (Bede, De schematis et tropis
herd image applied to God (cf. Ps 23), and the im- sacrae scripturae, PL 90 : 186).
age of the deer longing for water representing the The theological enterprise of interpreting the
soul longing for God (Ps 42). Bible included a wide range of figurative readings

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that relate to the various aspects of Christian reli- ness of the features of biblical language gave rise to
gious experience. The examples are numerous. An handbooks and manuals that communicated in-
important line of thought, for instance, connects to sights relevant for the interpretation of images and
the recurrent OT theme of exile, associated with the figurative meanings of Bible texts. So for instance
figure of Cain, or the historical experiences of Is- in Philipp Melanchton’s Institutio Rhetoricae (1521),
rael, the Egyptian and Babylonian exiles (see “Ex- Flacius Illyricus (1520–1575), Clavis Scripturae
ile”). In Christian history the idea of exile has been (1567), or William Perkins, Arte of Prophesying (Latin
applied as a metaphor that characterizes a basic 1592; Eng. 1602). Notable works include also, for
condition of existence after the fall and points to instance, Salomo Glasius Philologia Sacra (1623) and
humanity’s present state of alienation (cf. for in- the Baptist Benjamin Keach (1640-1704), Tropologia:
stance Augustine, Civ.; Johann Arndt, Erklärung der A Key to Open Scripture Metaphors (1682). In the mod-
Psalmen [Ps 137]). ern era literary scholars like Northrop Frye, The
Another prominent example of figurative read- Great Code (1981) and Erik A. Nielsen, Kristendom-
ing relates to the Song of Songs. This OT love poem mens retorik (2009), as well as the philosopher Paul
has served as an important source for the nuptial Ricoeur have revived a discussion that highlights
imagery of the bride and bridegroom that in the the theme of biblical imagery.
history of Christian thinking has been applied in Bibliography: ■ Auerbach, E., “Figura,” ArRom 22 (1938)
the interpretation of basic religious experiences 436–89. ■ Bohm, V. (ed.), Typologie: Internationale Beiträge
pertaining to the relation between God (Christ) and zur Poetik (Frankfurt a.M. 1988). ■ Brinkmann, H., Mittelal-
the soul of man, or the Church (cf. for instance Ber- terliche Hermeneutik (Darmstadt 1980). ■ Chydenius, J., The
Theory of Medieval Symbolism (Societas Scientiarum Fennica:
nard of Clairvaux, Sermones in Cant. Cant.; see
Commentationes humanarum litterarum 27/2; Helsinki
“Bride”; “Bridegroom”). 1960). ■ Copeland, R. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Alle-
Attention should further be turned to what gory (Cambridge 2010). ■ Curtius, E. R., European Literature
could be called the imaginational feature that char- and the Latin Middle Ages (New York 1953); trans. of id., Euro-
acterizes the proclamation of the salvation in päische Literatur und lateinisches Mittelalter (Bern 1948).
■ Daniélou, J., Bible et Liturgie (Paris 1956); ET: The Bible and
Christ. The NT narratives relating to the Christ
event constitute a series of “images” that serves the Liturgy (Notre Dame, Ind. [1956] 2009). ■ Frye, H. N., The
Great Code: The Bible and Literature (Orlando, Fla., 1982).
communication of the Christian salvation message. ■ Frye, N./J. Macpherson, Biblical and Classical Myths: The
This includes not only the parables of Jesus. Luther, Mythological Framework of Western Culture (Toronto, Ont.
for instance, considered the nativity an “image of [1962] 2004). ■ Konersmann, R. (ed.), Wörterbuch der philoso-
joy” (“Freudenbild”; WA 29 : 650) that through phischen Metaphern (Darmstadt 2007). ■ LaCoque, A./P. Ri-
faith should be “impressed” on the hearts of hu- coeur, Penser la Bible (Paris 2003). ■ Ladner, G. B., “Medie-
mans as a personal appropriation of the gospel. In val and Modern Understanding of Symbolism: A
the same way the passion of Jesus has provided hu- Comparison,” Spec. (1979) 223–55. ■ Lewalski, B. K., Protes-
tant Poetics and the Seventeenth-Century Religious Lyric (Prince-
mans with basic images of the divine act of grace ton, N.J. 1979). ■ Lubac, H. de, Exégèse Médièvale: Les Quatres
towards humanity. For Luther “Christ on the sens de l’écriture, 4 vols. (Paris 1959–1964); ET: Medieval Exege-
Cross” represents an “image of grace” (“Gnaden- sis: The Four Senses of Scripture, 3 vols. (RRRCT; Grand Rapids,
bild”) that brings consolation (WA 2 : 689). Mich. 1998–2009). ■ Nielsen, E. A., Kristendommens retorik:
In addition to these interpretations biblical im- Den kristne digtnings billedformer (Copenhagen 2009). ■ Ohly,
agery has received considerable attention in theo- F., Schriften zur mittelalterlichen Bedeutungsforschung (Darm-
stadt 1977). ■ Ryken, L. et al. (eds.), Dictionary of Biblical
logical literature relating rhetoric and hermeneu-
Imagery (Downers Grove, Ill. 1998). ■ Steiger, J. A., “Seel-
tics. In the early church Origen (ca. 185–254) sorge, Frömmigkeit, Mystik, Lehre und Trost bei Johann
established a theological basis of allegorical Bible Gerhard,” in id., Johann Gerhard (1582–1637) (Stuttgart/Bad
interpretation. Among the patristic contributions Cannstatt 1997) 17–157.
Augustine’s (354–430) De doctrina Christiana stands Sven Rune Havsteen
out as a most important contribution to the theo-
retical foundation of Christian interpretation of the VII. Islam
spiritual meaning of biblical imagery that also was The Qurān and Islamic literature present a narra-
received in the medieval and early modern era. Me- tive chronology that merges images and motifs fa-
dieval theologians continued the theoretical reflec- miliar from the Bible and other pre-Islamic texts
tions, so for instance Cassiodor (6th cent.), De sche- with a new interpretation of human history. The
matibus et tropis (PL 70 : 1269–1280); the Venerable whole constitutes a vision that stretches from the
Bede (ca. 672–735), De schematis et tropis sacrae scrip- creation of the world to the life of Muḥammad, and
turae; Hugh of St. Victor (ca. 1096–1141), De sacra- then through later history to the end of time (Tot-
mentis, Eruditio didascalia; and Thomas Aquinas toli 2006). This chronology is closely controlled by
(1225–1274), who in various texts gave a more ra- qurānic themes, above all by the involvement of
tional-systematic presentation of the topic (cf. God in the history of the world to move events in
Summa theologiae I, qu. 1; Quaestiones quodlibetales 7). accordance with his will, and the progress of history
In the wake of the Reformation a widespread aware- towards the coming of Islam. Thus, the difficulties

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in maintaining true monotheistic belief are pre-fig- cal literature through Odysseus’ journey home to
ured through stories of the vicissitudes of Moses, Ithaca in Homer’s Odyssey and Aeneas’ journey to
Joseph, and others such as David and Solomon, Italy in Virgil’s Aeneid, finds biblical precedent in
whose experiences anticipated Muḥammad’s troub- the journeys of both Abraham and Moses and the
les with the inhabitants of Mecca and Medina, Israelites to Canaan. It is also implicit in Peter’s ad-
while the threat of divine punishment for unbelief monition: “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as stran-
or for rejecting Muḥammad’s message is prefigured gers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which
in the stories of Noah, Lot, and the Arabian pro- war against the soul” (1 Pet 2 : 11, AV; cf. Heb
phets Hūd, S āliḥ and Shuayb, in which punish- 11 : 13; and Ps 39 : 12). The motif of the soul’s jour-
ments are meted out to their opponents. ney is evident throughout Dante’s Commedia or Di-
As part of this re-use of biblical imagery, in the vine Comedy (1308–20) in the autobiographical pro-
Qurān prophets already appear as heroes against tagonist’s journey through the Inferno, the
idolatry (e.g., Abraham) or leaders of people (e.g., Purgatorio, and the Paradiso (see also “Commedia”);
Moses), while in later literature typical Islamic el- and in Christian’s journey to the celestial city in
ements are incorporated into portrayals of them, John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678; see also
such as their sinlessness and the miracles associated “Pilgrim’s Progress, The and the Holy War”). A
with them. negative example of the journey motif appears in
One other major cluster of imagery is related to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”
apocalyptic and eschatological beliefs. Apocalyptic (1835); Brown’s journey through the dark forest
visions based on the Qurān and indebted to the leads to not the soul’s spiritual progress but rather
biblical tradition circulated widely in early Islam. its despair.
In addition, accounts gradually developed through The biblical motif of light, signifying God’s pu-
the early centuries of what happen to the individual rity and his illumination of spiritual and physical
following his death. These included vivid accounts darkness and used prominently in Gen 1 : 3–5 and
of the punishment in the tomb and the events of throughout the Johannine writings, is seen
the Last Day and Judgement (cf. Smith/Haddad). throughout John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667, 1674;
Bibliography: ■ Brinner, W. M., Azāis al-Majālis fī Qiṣaṣ al- see also “Paradise Lost”). In Milton’s epic, the mani-
Anbiyā or “Lives of the Prophets” as Recounted by Abū Isḥāq festations of light include the “holy Light,” the
Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn Ibrāhīm al-Thalabī (Leiden 2002) “Eternal coeternal beam” of God and his dwelling
83–85; trans. of al-Thalabī, Qiṣaṣ al-anbiyā (Cairo 1954) 49– place in heaven (3.1–2); the “celestial Light” that
50. ■ Lowin, S. I., The Making of a Forefather: Abraham in Is- the blind poet asks to “Shine inward” to illuminate
lamic and Jewish Narratives (Leiden/Boston, Mass. 2006). him in his composition (3.51–52); the radiance that
■ Neuwirth, A., “Myths and Legends in the Quran,” EQ 3
proceeds from the Son of God as he creates the uni-
(ed. J. D. McAuliffe; Leiden 2003) 477–97. ■ Smith, J. I./Y.
Haddad, The Islamic Understanding of Death and Resurrection
verse; and the light of earth’s sun, which both illu-
(Albany, N.Y. 1981). ■ Toelle, H., Le Coran revisité, le feu, minates Eden and convicts Satan of his sin. Such
l’eau, l’air et la terre (Paris 1999). ■ Tottoli, R., Biblical Pro- manifestations of light are contrasted with the
phets in the Qurān and Muslim Literature (Richmond 2002). flames of hell, which offer hell’s inhabitants “No
■ Tottoli, R., “Narrative Literature,” in The Blackwell Compan-
light, but rather darkness visible,” which serve
ion to the Qurān (ed. A. Rippin; London 2006) 467–80. “only to discover sights of woe” (1 : 63–64).
■ Weismann, I. et al. (eds.), Islamic Myths and Memories: Media-
Leviathan – the Satanic sea dragon of Isa 27 : 1 –
tors of Globalization (Farnham/Burlington, Vt. 2014).
serves as a motif throughout Herman Melville’s
Roberto Tottoli
Moby-Dick (1851), not only in the eponymous white
whale which destroys Captain Ahab and his crew,
VIII. Literature but even more profoundly in Ahab’s obsession to
Important terms related to “image” (see above, “I. pursue and kill the whale, an obsession more mon-
Introduction”) include “symbol,” “an image that strous and destructive than Moby-Dick himself.
stands for something in addition to its literal mean- The motif of the holy fool or Christ-fool,
ing”; “metaphor,” “an implied comparison”; “sim- grounded in 1 Cor 1 : 18–20; 3 : 18–20; and 4 : 10,
ile,” which “compares one thing to another … us- is personified throughout Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The
ing the formula like or as”; “motif,” a pattern that Idiot (1869) and William Faulkner’s The Sound and
recurs throughout a piece of literature; and “arche- the Fury (1929) through, respectively, the characters
type,” an image or pattern that recurs throughout of the epileptic “idiot” Prince Myshkin (Murav: 71–
literature and life (Ryken et al.: xiii–xiv; see Frye). 98) and Benjy, a thirty-three-year-old man with the
This article will consider biblical motifs and similes comprehension of a three-year-old child. This motif
in literature. is evident in the wise and convicting jesting of
1. Motif. Prominent biblical motifs in literature in- Shakespeare’s Fool in King Lear, and it is seen all
clude the soul’s journey, specifically the believer’s the more profoundly with the implicit connection
spiritual progress through the present world to the between the Fool and Cordelia, the godly, gracious,
hereafter. The journey motif, exemplified in classi- and loyal daughter of Lear whose life is ultimately

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sacrificed because of Lear’s sinful folly. As Lear The Sojourners of Goshen, who beheld
weeps over his dead daughter’s body, he cries, “my From the safe shore their floating carkases
poor fool is hanged” (5.3.305). And broken chariot wheels… (1.302, 304–11)
The motif of the scarlet “A” that Hester Prynne Elsewhere Milton compares the assembling of the
is made to wear in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter fallen angels in hell to the plague of locusts inflicts
(1850) is complex because of its grounding in Isa upon the Egyptians (Exod 10). Satan’s followers
1 : 18: “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be gather
white as snow.” Indeed, Hester’s scarlet letter signi- As when the potent Rod
fies not only her adultery with Pastor Dimmesdale Of Amram’s Son in Egypts evill day
but also her redemptive progress throughout the Wav’d round the Coast, up call’d a pitchy cloud
novel. Of Locusts, warping on the Eastern Wind,
That night o’er the Realm of impious Pharaoh hung
2. Simile. Bible-derived similes abound in the plays Like Night, and darken’d all the land of Nile…
of William Shakespeare. In Richard II (1597), Boling- (1.338–43)
broke, accusing Mowbray of conspiring to murder
the Duke of Gloucester, alludes to Gen 4 : 10, telling The similes of the British Romantic poet Lord By-
Mowbray that he ron (George Gordon) are often crafted for ironically
humorous effect. In Don Juan (1819–24), the protag-
like a traitor coward
onist’s companion, alluding to Esau’s selling his
Sluiced out his innocent soul through streams of blood:
Which blood, like sacrificing Abel’s, cries, birthright for food (Gen 25 : 29–34), says:
Even from the tongueless caverns of the earth, I’m hungry, and just now would take,
To me for justice and rough chastisement. (1.2.102–06) Like Esau, for my birthright a beef-steak. (5.44.351–52)
In Henry V (1600), Henry, threatening Harfleur’s de- Byron also makes an ironic comparison between the
struction, alludes to King Herod’s slaughter of the adulterous Juan fighting with Julia’s husband and
infants of Bethlehem and the town’s mourning the sexually pure Joseph fleeing the sexual advan-
mothers (Matt 2 : 16–17) when he tells Harfleur’s ces of Potiphar’s wife after she grabs his cloak (Gen
governor he must surrender or else see 39 : 7–20):
Your naked infants spitted upon pikes, Juan contrived to give him an awkward blow,
Whiles the mad mothers with their howls confused And there his only garment quite gave way;
Do break the clouds, as did the wives of Jewry He fled, like Joseph, leaving it; but there,
At Herod’s bloody-hunting slaughtermen. (3.3.118–21) I doubt, all likeness ends between the pair.
And in Richard III (1592?), the Second Murderer, (1.186.1485–88)
conscience stricken after killing Clarence in the The similes of the late Victorian novelist Thomas
Tower, alludes to Matt 27 : 24 when he says, Hardy include characters employing bitter irony as
A bloody deed, and desperately dispatch’d! they compare themselves to biblical figures. In Far
How fain, like Pilate, would I wash my hands from the Madding Crowd (1874), Boldwood, alluding
Of this most grievous guilty murder done! (1.4.261–64) to God’s treatment of Jonah (in Jonah 4 : 6–11) as
Shakespeare also makes ironic reference to the Bible he laments his loss of Bathsheba, says, “Yes, He pre-
for comic effect, as seen in Henry IV, Part II (1600) pared a gourd to shade me, and like the prophet I
when Falstaff tells the Chief Justice, “I am poor as thanked Him and was glad. But the next day He
Job, my lord, but not so patient” (1.2.123). prepared a worm to smite the gourd and wither it;
Milton’s similes in Paradise Lost include his de- and I feel it is better to die than to live” (Hardy
scription of Satan stretched out on the fiery lake of 1874: 256 [chap. 38]). In Tess of the D’Ubervilles
hell as large as (1891), Tess, feeling inferior to her beloved Angel
that Sea-beast Clare, alludes to the Queen of Sheba’s amazement
Leviathan, which God of all his works before Solomon’s wisdom and splendor and the
Created huge that swim th’ Ocean stream. (1.200–2) biblical narrator’s statement that “there was no
Milton also compares the recently defeated fallen more spirit in her” (1 Kgs 10 : 5; 2 Chron 9 : 4). Tess
angels in hell to the desolate aftermath of the de- tells Angel that in light of his knowledge and expe-
struction that befalls the Egyptian horsemen and rience, “I feel what a nothing I am! I’m like the
chariot-riding “host of Pharaoh” who, after pursu- poor queen of Sheba who lived in the Bible. There is
ing the fleeing Israelites into the parted Red Sea, no more spirit in me” (Hardy 2005: 141 [chap. 19]).
drown when God through Moses has the sea return The writers of the mid-19th century American
to its place (Exod 14 : 22–30). Scattered on the lake Renaissance regularly employed biblically derived
of fire, Satan’s followers lie “Thick as” similes. In his essay “Self-Reliance” (1841), the
Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson encour-
… scattered sedge
Afloat, when with fierce winds Orion arm’d ages his readers to pursue higher spiritual truths,
Hath vext the Red-Sea coast, whose waves orethrew exhorting, “Leave your theory, as Joseph his coat in
Busiris and his Mephian chivalrie, the hand of the harlot, and flee” (Emerson: 168). In
While with perfidious hatred they pursu’d Walden (1854), Emerson’s friend and fellow Tran-

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scendentalist Henry David Thoreau emphasizes the which Jacob cooked the pottage for which Esau sold
importance of being new people instead of obtain- his birthright.
ing new clothes. Alluding to Matt 9 : 17, Thoreau Bibliography. Primary: ■ Baldwin, J., “Sonny’s Blues,” Go-
suggests avoiding ing to Meet the Man (New York 1965) 86–141. ■ Douglass,
a new suit until we have so conducted, so enterprised F. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave
or sailed in some way, that we feel like new men in the (ed. H. A. Baker Jr.; New York 1986). ■ Emerson, R. W.,
old, and that to retain it would be like keeping new “Self-Reliance,” The Annotated Emerson (ed. D. Mikics; Cam-
wine in old bottles. (Thoreau: 15) bridge, Mass. 2012) 160–85. ■ Hansberry, L., A Raisin in the
In Moby-Dick, Melville alludes to Herod’s aforemen- Sun (New York 1994). ■ Hardy, T., Far from the Madding
Crowd (1874). [Available at www.gutenberg.org; accessed
tioned slaughter when he describes the sailors hear-
January 31, 2011]. ■ Hardy, T., Tess of the d’Urbervilles (ed.
ing noises from the desolate islands they pass, “un- J. Grindle/S. Gatrell; Oxford 2005). ■ Melville, H., Billy
earthly” cries “like half-articulated wailings of the Budd, Sailor (An Inside Narrative) (ed. H. Hayford/M. M. Sealts,
ghosts of all Herod’s murdered innocents” (Melville Jr.; Chicago, Ill. 1962). ■ Melville, H., Moby-Dick; or, The
1988: 503 [chap. 126]). In Billy Budd (1891), Melville Whale, vol. 6 of The Writings of Herman Melville (ed. H. Hay-
describes Billy as “a sort of upright barbarian, much ford et al.; Evanston/Chicago, Ill. 1988). ■ Thoreau, H. D.,
such perhaps as Adam presumably might have been Walden: or, Life in the Woods (ed. P. Smith; New York 1995).
■ Wheatley, P., Poems of Phyllis Wheatley: A Native African and
ere the urbane Serpent wriggled himself into his
a Slave (Bedford, Mass. 1995). ■ Whittier, J. G., The Poetical
company” (Melville 1962: 52). In “To the Thirty- Works of John Greenleaf Whittier (London 1895).
Ninth Congress” (1865), the abolitionist Quaker Secondary: ■ Frye, H. N., The Great Code: The Bible and
poet John Greenleaf Whittier alludes to King Da- Literature (Orlando, Fla., 1982). ■ Fulghum, W. B., A Dic-
vid’s mourning the death of the usurping Absalom tionary of Biblical Allusions in English Literature (New York
(2 Sam 18 : 33–19 : 4) as he urges charity during the 1965). ■ Jeffrey, D. L., A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in Eng-
reconstruction process after the American Civil lish Literature (Grand Rapids, Mich. 1992). ■ Murav, H., Holy
War: Foolishness: Dostoevsky’s Novels and the Poetics of Cultural Cri-
tique (Stanford, Calif. 1993). ■ Ryken, L. et al., Dictionary of
Alas! No victor’s pride is ours; Biblical Imagery (Downers Grove, Ill. 1998). ■ Shaheen, N.,
We bend above our triumphs won Biblical References in Shakespeare’s Plays (Newark, Del., 2011).
Like David o’er his rebel son. (Whittier: 256 [lines 25– ■ Sims, J. H., The Bible in Milton’s Epics (Gainsville, Fla. 1962).
27]) ■ Tackach, J., “The Biblical Foundation of James Baldwin’s

African-American literature is replete with Bible- ‘Sonny’s Blues,’” Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature 59.2
derived similes. In “On Being Brought from Africa (2007) 109–18.
to America” (1773), Phyllis Wheatley draws from David V. Urban
the common belief that the mark of Cain (Gen
4 : 15) was black skin. Celebrating her conversion IX. Visual Arts
and admonishing her readers to not associate dark In its broadest definition, an image in visual arts is
skin with evil, Wheatley, a slave, writes: simply a representation of something or someone.
Remember, Christians, Negroes, black as Cain, Imagery as it applies to visual arts, on the other
May be refined, and join the angelic train. (Wheatley: hand, is a socially constructed and agreed upon vi-
12 [lines 7–8]) sual language of images and signs – or system of
In his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845), images – that allows people to communicate mean-
Douglass, alluding to Daniel in the lions’ den (Dan ing visually. In the imagery of Judaism, Christian-
6), writes that having arrived in the free state of ity, and Islam, expressing the religious narratives
New York, “I felt like one who had escaped a den of and beliefs has varied according to the time period
hungry lions” (Douglass: 143 [chap. 11]). In James and the developments within the visual languages
Baldwin’s short story “Sonny’s Blues” (1957), the of each. Naturally, imagery is closely linked to ico-
narrator, the older brother of the recovering heroin nography, since it relies so heavily on visual signs
addict Sonny, alludes to Isa 51 : 17, 22–23 while in order convey meaning. Conventional ways of rep-
watching Sonny’s jazz performance. The narrator resenting visual narratives, for example, appear to
states that the drink on Sonny’s piano “glowed and have emerged early in Judaism, as the walls of the
shook above my brother’s head like the very cup of 3rd-century synagogue of Dura Europos attests.
trembling” (Baldwin: 141). To some interpreters, The Jewish patriarchs, as well, gained recognizable
the drink and its connection to Isaiah’s cup of trem- features and attributes, such as Moses holding the
bling symbolizes Sonny’s freedom and redemption tables of law or standing near the burning bush.
(Tackach: 116–17), but it could also suggest the per- Though equally reliant upon a language of abstract
ilous hold Sonny’s addiction has over him and the symbols, such as the cross or the ChiRho, Christian
fragile nature of his present freedom. In Lorraine narratives, too, developed specific images that could
Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun (1959), Mama be recognized by believers, even if not readily ap-
states that her can of kitchen cleanser “is empty as parent to those outside the faith. The narratives
Jacob’s kettle” (Hansberry: 66). This simile could re- could be abbreviated, as three magi approaching
fer to Jacob’s well (John 4 : 5–6) or to the pot in the Virgin and Child without setting, to refer to the

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event of the nativity and so on. In later centuries, even in cases where the visible materiality of what
the iconography of the saints developed, so that not was represented was not in question. In other
only universal imagery like haloes and palm leaves words, when it came to biblical art, it was often a
signified holiness or martyrdom, but also individu- question of whether it should be created at all.
alized attributes referring to the means of their exe- Intellectual inquiry into the power and mean-
cution or role in the hierarchy of the saints. To say ing of images dates back millennia. It is found, for
there was imagery related to the biblical stories (in example, in Philistratus’ presumed work Εικνες
both Judaism and Christianity), the characteriza- (2nd cent. CE, Imagines, Images or Pictures) in
tion of Jesus, Mary, and the saints, as well as typo- which he explored what images say and how im-
logical and allegorical comparisons within Chris- ages convey ideas that are not available merely from
tian art, is both redundant and simplistic. The words and texts. Much more recent and perhaps
imagery within Jewish and Christian holy places most influential over the last century to the study
was meant to be recognizable and yet could be infi- of religious art has been the emergence of semiot-
nitely combined in manners that related specifically ics and structuralism. Coming from the study of
to the geography, location, architecture, context, language, Saussurian semiotics and structuralism
and so on. In Islam, though paradisiacal imagery nevertheless fit nicely with developments of iconol-
figures greatly in early monuments, figural imagery ogy in visual arts led by Erwin Panofsky (see “Pa-
was not used in the decoration of holy spaces; yet nofsky, Erwin”), to establish images as signs that
the written word became a kind of visual signifier only have meaning within a larger system – or
in itself, independent of even the meaning of the structure – of meaning, without having intrinsic
texts. Manuscript illumination in all three religions value other than that which is assigned to it. As it
represents perhaps the most diverse imagery, as it applies to the arts of Judaism, Christianity, and Is-
relates so closely to text. Nevertheless, basic compo- lam, iconology addresses both how images function
nents of visual communication remained constant to convey meaning, the tools with which a viewer
in order to cue viewers as to what kind of scenes or could unpack meaning according to the visual lan-
figures were presented, what associations were to guage used, as well as a method of understanding
be drawn, even what kind of text the manuscript how images, as signs, refer viewers to something –
was, such as a gospel or Megillah. in the case of religious art, to the otherwise unseen.
Aside from aspects of systems of images devel- However, structuralism has its limitations in that it
oping around subjects in order that viewers can un- does not address what the image does, nor how
derstand the meaning, there are greater implica- viewers perceive and react to images, especially in
tions concerning images and imagery. Theories of cases where images are perceived to be more than
imagery, of what makes an image, and how images mere representation, as so many Christian icons
work to communicate ideas to viewers, have been were (see Belting).
subject to intellectual inquiry since antiquity. The Thus, more recently, the question of the image
very nature of images is that they are illusions, sub- has turned toward the viewer and his or her experi-
stitutions, signs, and signifiers encompassing nu- ence. Most recent in image studies has been the ac-
merous aspects related to “picturing, imagining, knowledgment that images are not just that which
perceiving, likening and imitating” (Mitchell 1986: is reproduced by artists, but that they include ver-
1). As such, images pose a particularly intricate bal images, mental images, visions, even hallucina-
problem within the realm of the biblical religions, tions, whereby the work of art is merely one aspect
where the understanding, not to mention the of the entire category. Yet the lines between types
power, of images fluctuates between the image as a of images are often blurred, only to become all part
representation of a higher, transcendent truth (an of an experience, which many scholars have de-
imago or icon), and idol, a false or misleading image scribed phenomenologically. Even in the Middle
(see above, “I. Introduction”). Additionally, when it Ages, precise boundaries between the painted or in-
comes to the representations within Judaism, Chris- stalled work of art, the mental vision, the individ-
tianity, and Islam, there are two main concepts that ual perception, and multi-sensory involvement
are specific to the history of the image: the human overlapped to the point that the created image itself
being as the image of God, humankind’s Creator, was but one part of a larger phenomenon. That
and the human being as the creator of images. these were related to one another according to what
These concepts have historically impacted the pro- viewers expected and their own experiences, which,
duction of religious art, as there exists an ongoing among other things, included a repertoire of liter-
tension between the entire notion of a God-created ary, oral, and visual sources, is an ongoing point of
world full of signs and symbols relating God’s tran- study among scholars. Textual, literary, and liturgi-
scendent nature without revealing what is invisible cal imagery can function to augment the meaning
to humans, and the human endeavor to interpret of religious visual art and enhance the viewer’s un-
and reproduce them visually, which has often been derstanding. So too, imagery relies on a complex
considered presumptuous if not altogether futile, system of visual language in order to inform the

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943 Image, Imagery 944
viewer as to the type of image; this is particularly potentially confusing, as inviting idolatry, images
relevant in presentations of cult images, the use of were useful in so far as they could “show” (see, e.g.,
iconicity so that viewers are aware and react accord- Gregory the Great, Ep. 13 [to Serenus]), and this was
ingly. what marked the Christian veneration of images as
The question of what power images hold also something quite different than the pagan’s atti-
has an ancient pedigree, with philosophical – and tudes towards what had obviously been crafted by
later Christian theological – debate about the na- human hands. As didactic tools, historia painting,
ture of representation and the futile human pursuit or narratives, were much easier to accept in all three
to capture through visual representation what is of the Bible-related religions than the imago or im-
the essence of the thing represented, whether inani- age. Indeed, the incarnation of God in Jesus was the
mate object, or even more importantly, a human primary justification of Christianity’s portrayal of
being. Plato (e.g., Soph. 266b) defined ε0δος apart holy figures, whereas Judaism and Islam, without a
from εδωλον, suggesting that ε0δος is the transcen- visible God, did not treat the represented human
dent reality, or essence of someone or something, figure as holy or worthy of veneration. However, to
while εδωλον is the visible aspect of the ε0δος. Al- confuse the image with what it represents is not a
ready, then, we can see in antique philosophy the characteristic of the poor and naïve, of image fetish-
making of the conditions for the early Christian di- ism, as scholars have tended to classify it in the
lemma concerning the representation of the mate- past. Latin and Orthodox Christianity have kept sa-
rial world. According to Neoplatonists, and includ- cred images and presented them as miraculous,
ing Christian theologians of the same philosophical even while cautioning against the idolatry such per-
bent, it was important to keep the notions of ε0δος ceptions about images invite. Yet mindful inscrip-
and εδωλον quite separate, since artistic represen- tions, such as the one over the 10th-century mosaic
tations were empty of the essence of what they pur- of Christ in San Marco, Venice, which reads, “The
ported to represent. We have, for example, Plotinus image teaches of God, but is not itself God. You
chastising his followers for creating his portrait in revere the image, but worship with your mind Him
secret, because they were making a likeness of al- whom you recognize in it” (Kessler: 18), can be un-
ready dead material (i.e., the physical body; Por- derstood within the context of a period of complex
phyry, Vit. Plot., bk. 1). In this system of thought, theological debate, not as a testament to simple-
the body was eschewed as material or matter to be minded laity. In this case, the image was set in front
disdained and thus all images were fraught and de- of viewers with instructions for them to understand
ceptive. However, this ran counter to the Christian it as a visible representation of a visible reflection
notion of the body. To deny the human forms of of God, an icon of Christ who is an icon of God.
Christ and the saints was to deny the Incarnation The most intense debates about the nature of
and to disregard the importance of Jesus’ humanity. the image in Christian art came about in the wake
God took human form, and thus subjected his form of the rise of Islam, which accused Christians of
to visibility, and thus representation. This notion polytheism and idolatry, and centered on the no-
adhered to the Christian understanding of the deifi- tion that the material representation in art cannot
cation of the flesh through the Incarnation. It hold the essence of the person represented. There-
should be noted that at some point, Christians fore, when one venerated the image, one venerated
turned to the word icon/image to encapsulate a visi- the material instead of the person. Counter defense
ble, though not deceptive aspect of an invisible or held that the representation presented in the image
higher reality. Thus the icon was equated both with held the same form as the subject, which is inde-
a portrait and with the divinized human counte- pendent of material and thus it did not constitute
nance in order to demonstrate that the visible form idolatry to venerate the person who was presented
for veneration by virtue of the form, or appearance,
available to humans was just as important as a
the image imparted. It was not wood and paint that
means of comprehension of God. The εκν was the
held meaning, but the image as a kind of transcen-
combined μορφ (visible form, which was preferred
dent entity made available through paint and
to the blatantly pagan εδωλον as earlier philoso-
wood. Ultimately, Catholic and Orthodox Christi-
phers had termed it) and ε0δος (transcendent aspect
anity embraced images as important religious ex-
or essence; see Marsengill: 83, 90–92).
pressions, whether to impart narratives from the Bi-
This attitude anticipates the problem the three
ble or to present the likenesses of holy persons as
great monotheistic religions have had with the im-
intercessors.
age since antiquity, which has been over-simplisti-
cally characterized as the tendency of viewers to in- Bibliography: ■ Belting, H., Likeness and Presence: A History
vest in the image as reality. Thus, the problem early of the Image before the Era of Art (Chicago, Ill. 1994). ■ Elkins,
J./M. Naef, What Is an Image? (University Park, Pa. 2010).
on in Christianity to justify the use of images in ■ Kessler, H., Spiritual Seeing: Picturing God’s Invisibility in Me-
churches as picture Bibles for the poor, no matter dieval Art (Philadelphia, Pa. 2000). ■ Manghani, S. et al.
that many images were certainly iconic and not (eds.), Images: A Reader (London 2006). ■ Manghani, S., Im-
merely narrative. For those who viewed images as age Studies: Theory and Practice (London/New York 2013)

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945 Image, Imagery 946
■ Marsengill, K., Portraits and Icons: Between Reality and Spiritu- already in the minds of the listeners. It seems to be
ality in Byzantine Art (Turnhout 2013). ■ Mitchell, W. J. T., the same basic idea that lies behind the use of the
Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology (Chicago, Ill. 1986). ■ Mitch- German word einbilden in 17th-century Lutheran
ell, W. J. T., Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Represen-
thought to express music’s ability to “evoke a devo-
tation (Chicago, Ill. 1994).
tional feeling in the heart of the religious” (Hav-
Katherine Marsengill
steen: 167). Etymologically, according to the Deut-
X. Music sches Wörterbuch (German Dictionary) of the Brothers
Grimm, the (transitive) notion of einbilden stems
It is well known, and even fundamental to the in- from the word Bild (image) and indicates the im-
terest in musical settings of narratives and texts,
pression of an image of something in somebody.
that music has the ability to impress images upon
It was used already in the 14th century (Deutsches
the minds of listeners, especially when music re-
Wörterbuch, s.v. “Einbilden“).
sponds to figures or narratives. Musical efforts to
The notion of music establishing or deepening
impress images on listeners have been particularly
biblical images in the listener is also reflected in a
strong in a biblical context. It is not easy, however,
number of titles for musical compositions, espe-
to distinguish clearly between the mental and emo-
cially in modern times. Olivier Messiaen’s large-
tional impact of music on the one hand and mental
scale piano cycle Vingt regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus (1944,
images created by music on the other. Increasingly,
Twenty contemplations of the Infant Jesus) is an
it seems that music during the late Middle Ages,
important example of a visual metaphoric in music,
and certainly from the Baroque period, was em-
something which is implied in the title through the
ployed to interpret texts and narratives, for instance
word “regard” (look). Also George Crumb’s Black
in operas and oratorios and many other genres from
Angels (Thirteen Images from the Dark Land) for electric
the 17th century onward aiming toward strength-
string quartet (1970) shows this metaphorical visual
ening the emotional and mental impact of these
impulse. One of the “images” is called “God-Music”
texts and narratives (see further, “Emotions VIII.
with biblical connotations (see “God X. Music”).
Music”).
Siglind Bruhn has introduced the general no-
In some biblical music, specific narrative details
tion “musical ekphrasis” to denote music respond-
have been musically “painted” in sound, as for in-
ing to poetry or painting (Bruhn 2000). Among
stance earthquakes in some biblical narratives (see
examples of such music, she also discusses com-
“Earthquake VIII. Music”). Similarly, “word paint-
positions based on biblical images which some-
ing” can be found, for instance in Joseph Haydn’s
times may be imagined by the composer, as in
oratorio The Creation (1798), where animal sounds
Frank Martin’s Polyptyque, six images de la passion de
are musically imitated, something for which the
Christ (1973, Polyptyque: Six Images of the Passion
composer was soon criticized (Schwab: 439). Musi-
of Christ) for solo violin and two string orchestras
cal word painting or the musical elaboration of an
or Ottorino Respighi, Vetrate di chiesa (1925, Church
important biblical scene or word is also found in
Windows) for orchestra describing four imaginary
much of Johann Sebastian Bach’s church music, not
religious images, including two biblical ones, the
least in the Passions.
flight into Egypt and the Archangel Michael. By
The musical depiction of Peter’s weeping after
having betrayed Jesus and having been reminded contrast, Respighi’s Trittico botticelliano (1927, Three
by the crowing of the cock (Matt 26 : 27) in the St. Botticelli Pictures, a.k.a. Botticelli Triptych), also for or-
Matthew Passion (1729), for instance, is a melodically chestra, is based on three actual paintings by Botti-
chromatic long, expressive, and for most listeners celli, including the famous Adoration of the Magi
undoubtedly heartrending, setting of the word (1475/76, Uffizi, Florence; see Bruhn 2000: 223–
“weinete” (wept; Bach: 184; Marissen: 53) leading 67). Further, Bruhn discusses the Israeli composer
into the alto aria “Erbarme dich” (Have mercy) Jacob Gilboa’s The Twelve Jerusalem Chagall Windows
which makes it clear that the listener is meant to (1966) for singers and instruments, and English
identify with Peter. Also, the setting of the crucifix- composer John McCabe’s orchestral work The Cha-
ion scene altogether exemplifies the same kind of gall Windows (1974), both responding to Chagall’s
religious impression on the listener (see “Crucifix- famous stained-glass windows based on Genesis
ion VIII. Music”). and Deuteronomy in the Abbell synagogue of the
In a similar broad emotional-religious context, Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center
Haydn stated (in a letter) that his instrumental (Bruhn 2000: 269–360).
composition, Die sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers All these works demonstrate how music is often
am Kreuze (1786, The Seven Last Words of our Savior understood to represent mental images and some-
on the Cross) was made so as to make a “profound times to transform actual or mental images to musi-
impression on the souls of even the most inexperi- cal ones.
enced” (see “Haydn, Joseph”). What was conveyed Bibliography: ■ Bach, J. S., Matthäus-Passion Study Score
to the listeners must be understood as a deepened Edition Peters (Leipzig n.d.). ■ Bruhn, S., Musikalische Sym-
impact of those mental images of Jesus on the Cross bolik in Olivier Messiaens Weihnachtsvignetten (Frankfurt a.M./

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947 Image, Imagery 948
Wien 1997). ■ Bruhn, S., Musical Ekphrasis: Composers Re- paradisiacal garden evokes Eden as well as its con-
spondig to Poetry and Painting (Hillsdale, N.Y. 2000). ■ Deut- notations of pre-fall innocence. Cardinal Altamira-
sches Wörterbuch von Jacob Grimm und Wilhelm Grimm no notes the similarity of the untouched Guarani
(www.woerterbuchnetz.de/DWB; accessed October 24,
lands “above the falls” to the garden of Eden in
2015). ■ Havsteen, S. R., “Aspects of Musical Thought in
the Seventeenth-Century Lutheran Theological Tradition,” The Mission (dir. Roland Joffé, 1986, UK/FR); “A bit
in The Arts and the Cultural Heritage of Martin Luther (ed. E. overgrown,” responds the Jesuit, Father Gabriel. It
Østrem et al.; Copenhagen 2003) 151–69. ■ Marissen, M. is European intrusion that ultimately spoils this
(ed.), Bach’s Oratorios: The Parallel German-English Texts with paradise. The second biblical creation story, with its
Annotations (Oxford 2008). ■ Schwab, H. W., “Zur ‘Idee, ein associated theological themes, can also be evoked in
Chaos in Musik zu setzen’: Ästhetische Auseinandersetzun- film with the image of ripe fruit (especially, but not
gen im Gefolge der ersten Aufführung von Joseph Haydns exclusively, an apple; Pleasantville, dir. Gary Ross,
Schöpfung in Kopenhagen (1801),” in FS W. Wiora zum 90.
1998, US) or a luminous tree representing either
Geburtstag (ed. C.-H. Mahling/R. Seiberts; Tutzing 1997)
426–45. the tree of life or the tree of knowledge (e.g., The
Nils Holger Petersen Tree of Life, dir. Terrence Malick, 2011, US; Adams
æbler, dir. Anders Thomas Jensen, 2005, DK/DE,
XI. Film Adam’s Apples; Eve and the Firehorse, dir. Julia Kwan,
2005, CA).
A study of biblical imagery in film must consider
Cinematic deluges almost inevitably allude in
both visual and aural dimensions of the medium.
some way to the biblical flood. An ark-like boat-
Because film combines visual imagery with dia-
house represents metaphorical safety and renewal
logue, music, and sound effects, the possibilities for
in Garden State (dir. Zach Braff, 2004, US), whereas
symbolically evoking biblical texts are practically
a Noachian houseboat offers only the illusion of
endless.
The aural dimension of film encompasses dia- safety in Northfork (dir. Michael Polish, 2003, US)
logue, music, and all other aspects of film sound. for a polygamist homeowner and his two wives who
Verbal allusions to biblical stories in film dialogue refuse to evacuate a valley that is soon to be flooded
can elicit an analogy between the film and the bibli- for hydroelectric power. The biblical flood story is
cal story (e.g., the Cain and Abel references in Amo- regularly evoked in disaster films involving earth-
res perros, dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2000, quakes (Deluge, dir. Felix E. Feist, 1933, US), meteor
MX, “Love Dogs”). Film music can stimulate partic- strikes (When Worlds Collide, dir. Rudolph Maté,
ular images and associations in the minds of cinema 1951, US; and Deep Impact, dir. Mimi Leder, 1998,
audiences. For example, many films make use of US), or nuclear holocaust (The Noah, dir. Daniel
hymns, gospel music, and folk music that rely heav- Bourla, 1975, US). Likewise, the image of a white
ily upon biblical images (e.g., The Apostle, dir. Rob- dove carrying a green twig has come to connote
ert Duvall, 1997, US; O Brother, Where Art Thou?, dir. peace and renewal (Evan Almighty, dir. Tom Shad-
Joel and Ethan Coen, 2000, UK/FR/US; 12 Years a yac, 2007, US; WALL-E, dir. Andrew Stanton, 2008,
Slave, dir. Steve McQueen, 2013, US/UK). Ambient US).
sounds such as wind, thunder, or even pregnant si- Aqedah imagery – signaled by the death of a
lence can aurally symbolize the presence of the di- beloved son, sacrificed for faith or other deeply-held
vine (cf. Exod 19 : 16–17; 1 Kgs 19 : 11–12). ideals – appears in many Israeli films as “[t]he myth
Visual images commonly connected with the Bi- of the binding of Isaac (Gen 22) has been trans-
ble abound in the biblical epic genre and its paro- formed and transcribed in Jewish culture for centu-
dies (e.g., The Bible: In the Beginning…, dir. John Hus- ries” (Zanger). Anat Zanger suggests that early-21st-
ton, 1966, US/IT; Life of Brian, dir. Terry Jones, century Israeli cinema and television (e.g., My Fa-
1979, UK). Rays of light breaking through clouds ther, My Lord, dir. David Volach, 2007, IL; Bet-lehem,
indicate divine presence and blessing. A cradled dir. Yuval Adler, 2013, IL) calls into question the
lamb elicits the gospel nativity story or the trope of need to repeatedly sacrifice the sons of Israel. Out-
the good shepherd. Biblical patriarchs and libera- side of Israel, Aqedah imagery is more often associ-
tors wield the ever-present shepherd’s staff. Multi- ated with horror films and psychological thrillers
tudes gaze with rapt attention at a messiah(-figure), (e.g., Frailty, dir. Bill Paxton, 2001, US/DE) (see
and a nimbus crowns each saintly figure. The recent also “Aqedah”).
epic film Noah (dir. Darren Aronofsky, 2014, US) The exodus story provides film with its own set
uses the same sequence of biblical images several of iconograpic images, such as a burning bush
times to evoke key ideas: a snake/choice, a fruit/ (Pleasantville). Likewise, twin stone tables bearing or
temptation, and Cain’s killing of Abel/violence. representing the Decalogue have come to embody
This sequence explains Noah’s decision to end the the more general concept of a moral order under-
human race with his own family. pinning the universe. Tables barren of writing ap-
Non-biblical films also make use of imagery de- pear repeatedly in the modern storyline of Cecil B.
rived from conventional ways of visually represent- DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1923, US) as a
ing biblical narratives. An untamed wilderness or warning to and indictment of the law-breaking son

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949 Imitation of Christ (Book) 950
Dan McTavish. Stone table iconography is also bor- Imago Dei
rowed as a means of divine communication in Mi- /Image of God
chael Curtiz’s Noah’s Ark (1928, US). Parted red soup
evokes the parting of the Red Sea (Bruce Almighty,
dir. Tom Shadyac, 2003, US) (see also “Exodus, Imalkue
The”).
Imalkue (LXX Ιμαλκου; 1 Macc 11 : 39), also
Images associated with Jesus and the gospels are
known as Iamblichus (Diodorus Siculus, Bib. hist.
embarrassingly plentiful, sparking a seemingly
33.4a) and Malchus (Josephus, Ant.13.131), was an
endless multiplication of cinematic Jesus-figures.
Arabian entrusted with bringing up the young An-
Common tropes include walking on water (Being
tiochus, child of Alexander I (Balas), to be the next
There, dir. Hal Ashby, 1979, US), teaching on the
Seleucid ruler. Diodorus (Bib. hist. 32.9d, 10.1)
hillside (Ordet, dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1955, DK,
writes that Alexander had fled from Ptolemy to Ara-
“The Word”), breaking bread (Journal d’un cure de
bia and taken refuge with local sheikh Diokles, to
campagne, dir. Robert Bresson1951, FR, Diary of a
whom he had previously given his young son. (First
Country Priest), raising a cup (Freaks, dir. Tod Brown-
Maccabees 11 : 16–17 recounts Alexander’s fleeing
ing, 1932, US), wearing a crown of thorns (La passion
to Arabia but does not mention the sheikh.) Later
de Jeanne d’Arc, dir. Dreyer, 1928, FR, The Passion of
in his narrative, Diodorus instead names the child’s
Joan of Arc), or assuming a cruciform pose (The Shaw-
guardian “Iamblichus, a chieftain of Arabia”
shank Redemption, 1994, US). Cinema commonly
(33.4a). This corresponds to Yamliku, a name
uses the image of a cross or crucifix to evoke the
known from the regions of Emesa and Palmyra; the
church, its presumed protection from evil, or ideas
name Imalkue in 1 Maccabees may result from the
of redemption and self-sacrifice.
translator’s confused vocalization of the Hebrew
Indeed biblical imagery has so thoroughly per-
consonants ymlkw (Goldstein: 46–47). According to
meated contemporary society that one might legiti- 1 Maccabees, Josephus, and Diodorus, Alexander’s
mately wonder whether its use in film is always a commander Diodotus Trypho, seeing that the
deliberate choice on the part of filmmakers. A case troops were grumbling against Demetrius II Nica-
in point is the shower of frogs that falls from the tor, prevailed upon Imalkue to hand over the child
sky in Magnolia (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999, so he could be made king instead; Trypho returned
US). Although for many viewers and reviewers this with the boy, who was proclaimed Antiochus VI.
moment in the film evoked the biblical exodus (First Maccabees 11 : 54; Josephus, Ant. 13.144; Livy,
story, Anderson denied that any such allusion was Per. 52, and Appian, Syr. 68 report on the coup
intended (Denzey). Similarly, although the Japanese without mentioning Imalkue.) Trypho would later
anime Neon Genesis Evangelion (dir. Hideaki Anno, kill young Antiochus and assume the throne him-
1995–96, JP) makes abundant use of biblical im- self (1 Macc 13 : 31).
ages, its creators insist that these images (particu-
Bibliography: ■ Goldstein, J. A., 1 Maccabees (AB 41; New
larly a recurring cross symbol) were chosen pri-
York 1976). ■ Grainger, J. D, The Cities of Seleukid Syria (Ox-
marily because they “looked cool” and mysterious
ford 1990). [Esp. 177–80] ■ Retsö, J., The Arabs in Antiquity:
(Ogura/Hioki: 291). Their History from the Assyrians to the Umayyads (London 2003).
Bibliography: ■ Deacy, C., “Reflections on the Uncritical [Esp. 316–17]
Appropriation of Cinematic Christ-Figures: Holy Other or Eva Mroczek
Wholly Inadequate?” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 13
(Summer 2006; online, available at www.utpjournals.com;
accessed September 30, 2015). ■ Denzey, N., “Biblical Allu- Imitation of Christ (Book)
sions, Biblical Illusions: Hollywood Blockbuster and Scrip-
ture,” SBL Forum (March 2004; www.sbl-site.org; accessed The Imitation of Christ (De Imitatione Christi Libri qua-
September 30, 2015). ■ Ogura, F./N. F. Hioki, “Anime and tuor) was written by Thomas à Kempis (ca. 1380–
the Bible,” in The Bible in Motion, vol. 1 (ed. R. Burnette- 1471). He joined the Brothers and Sisters of the
Bletsch, HBR 2; Berlin 2016) 285–95. Common Life, which had been founded by Gerard
Rhonda Burnette-Bletsch Groote and associated with the (so-called) Devotio
Moderna. The Imitation is a devotional book that was
See also /Iconography, Iconology; /Idols,
composed in Latin ca. 1418–27. In terms of captur-
Idolatry; /Image of God; /Metaphor; /Plant
ing the spirit of the Common Life movement and
Imagery; /Symbol, Symbolism
the Devotio Moderna, it is indispensable. It has been
translated into numerous languages and it is still
among one of the most widely read Christian, devo-
Imagism, Imagist tional works. The text is divided into four books,
/Modernism which focus on offering spiritual directives and gui-

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