Art & Archives, Exhibitions and Installations, Getty Center, J. Paul Getty Museum, Manuscripts and Books

Interpreting Sacred Scripture across Faiths

<em>Samson Fighting a Lion</em> (detail), Franco-Flemish, about 1270

Samson Fighting a Lion (detail), Franco-Flemish, about 1270

How do people of different faiths read, interpret, and depict the sacred texts known in the Christian tradition as the Old Testament?

Come explore the question with us this Sunday as Reverend Alexei Smith, director of the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, rabbi Ed Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, and art historian Jeremy Glatstein present an interfaith dialogue and discuss some of the illuminated manuscripts on display in the current exhibition The Old Testament in Medieval Manuscript Illumination.

The term “Old Testament” refers to the first half of the Christian Bible, which is derived from Hebrew scriptures. Because the content and interpretation of the text varies between religions—in part as a result of differences in language and translation—the discussion will highlight both shared traditions and points of departure.

The exhibition looks closely at the role of the Old Testament in book illumination and how images in manuscripts influenced medieval Christian thought and interpretations of the Bible. The illuminations reveal how medieval Christian readers turned to the Old Testament not only for inspiration and moral guidance, but also as a source of entertainment (see this amazing depiction of King David’s son consorting with his father’s concubines for just one example).

As religious controversies continue to make headlines, this discussion provides an opportunity to look at commonalities among people of different faiths with a shared history. Join the discussion on June 13 at 1:30 p.m. at the Harold M. Williams Auditorium at the Getty Center. You can make a free reservation here.

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      Gold snake bracelet, worn on the wrist

      Romano-Egyptian, 3rd - 2nd century B.C. 

      Source: The J. Paul Getty Museum

      In the Hellenistic period, gold made available by new territorial conquests flooded the Greek world. 

      Combined with social and economic changes that created a wealthy clientele with a taste for luxury, this availability led to an immense outpouring of gold jewelry to meet the demand.

      Here’s a closer view of the detailing of the cross-hatching.


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