Hagar and Ishmael – God’s Love and Mercy is Both Universal and Personal

In reviewing additional available art on biblical subjects I have already addressed, I found a drawing of Rembrandt on the subject addressed in my post, “God Protects and Blesses Hagar and Ishmael.”  It particularly strikes me as unique among the paintings I have chosen.

Hagar and the Angel REMBRANDT (ca. 1655)

See http://www.artbible.info/art/large/86.html for the source of the above photograph of the pen drawing and a comment.

I admire not only the simply essential,  but nuanced, style of this drawing, but also its expression of Hagar’s personal encounter with the Divine in that the angel touches her shoulder and she faces the angel in grateful submission.  Also, I see the depiction of Ishmael as in the style typically rendering Jesus in the manger.  I have in this blog noted Rembrandt’s study and expression of human emotional and behavioral interaction in those represented.  That helps to make this drawing personal to me so that I interpret it to demonstrated God’s love for Hagar and Ishmael, who represent the indigenous people of that area in the Biblical view, now known as Arabs, and addressed by Mohammed.  It reminds me that we are all family loved by God.

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/

Sarah – Art as Revelation of an Unseen Essence.

Genesis 21:1,2 tells us, “And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.  For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.”

The Angel Appears to Sarah TIEPOLO (1726-28)

See http://www.artbible.info/art/large/468.html for the source of the above photograph of the painting and comment.  Whether Tiepolo intended to comment so or not, the above-referenced commentator appears to take the view that the “Lord” appears to humans only through angels and that “visiting Sarah” was akin to the common Biblical interpretation of a man “knowing” a woman: as inpregnating her.  The commentator seems to come to that interpretation on the premise that Sarah was too old to conceive, and since God is represented in the flesh as an angel, Sarah conceived only by divine intervention and that via an angel.

A note about this painting and the prior post concerning the visit of the three angels to Abraham:  Christians reinterpreted that story to reflect their notion of the Trinity.  As finite beings, we can conceive of the infinite, or “divine things,” not directly but only as revealed to our imagination based upon actual experience.  That, of course, makes our understanding biased.  That’s okay; it’s normal; it’s necessarily so.  In his book, Law and the Modern Mind, Jerome Frank explores the concept of an “impartial judge.”  He maintains pure objectivity is a fiction.   Bias is inherent in all human activity and cannot be irradicated; one can best minimize its influence by recognizing it.

The role of experience in our thinking is addressed by Plato in his Allegory of the Cave: Suppose a prisoner, who knows nothing but a cave, were to escape and discover  the world in the light of day.  And then suppose that he then return to the cave to tell of his (or her) experiences. The other prisoners, who know only shadows of objects cast into the cave, will have no understanding of what is described as revealed  by light.

As I understand them, the orthodox Jewish and Muslim answer for the  inadequacy of image to represent the Divine is to prohibit any physical representation of God.  Jews don’t even utter, “God:”  to name God is to limit God, and their God is the Living God.  The medieval Jewish philosopher, Maimonides, went so far in his Doctrine of Negative Attributes to hold that we cannot state what God is; we can only state what God is not.  “God” is always more than any statement that can be made about God.

Metaphor provides better reference to the Divine nature than any amount of descriptive language.  Rather than dictate, it invites the viewer or listener to bring his or her own experiences to bear on the subject so that the experience is more like a dialogue between the artist and the viewer than mere description of an event.  Rather than define truth, it points toward the truth.  Likewise with art: it is not necessarily intended as an exact replication of an historic event, but may reveal a deeper truth contained within the subject.   Marcus Borg expresses the notion citing an Indian story teller who began the telling with, “Now, I don’t know if it actually happened this way, but I know it’s true . . . ”

Frank also addresses the benefit of “as if” thinking.  Some experiences cannot be related directly.   Modern physicists discuss theories in analogies or metaphors, “as if” time-space were a stretched fabric warped by a metal object resting upon it; or metaphorically discussing string theory as though it were a tire inner tube.  Models are necessary for complex thinking and dialogue; and they can be most helpful when we recognize that our perceptions are not reality, itself, but are understood by our model of reality.  These models are helpful as long as we recognize reality “as if” it were the model.  They cease to be helpful when the model reaches its outer limits.  For example, Newtonian physics works very well as a mechanical model of reality within the “normal” range of experience.  But when one is dealing with velocities at, or approaching, the speed of light or the scale of atomic particles, it becomes inadequate as a model and must be replaced with another model that works.

In the same way, I think, art has the capacity to connect transcendent (infinite) experiences to human (finite) experiences through conscious “as if” thinking.   That occurs best when there is actual dialogue which invites mutual participation of artist and observer, as with metaphor.  I hope that you, the reader, bring to your exploration of the paintings in this post your own experience and thinking and that it engages you personally.  I also invite your contributions to this blog.

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/

Israel Reunited With Joseph in Egypt

Genesis 46:29-30 tells us that Israel (Jacob) traveled to Egypt where he was reunited with Joseph.

Joseph Receives His Father and Brothers BRAY(1627-1697)

See http://www.themartman.com/stmartins/6joseph.jpg for the source of the above photograph of the painting.   I love the arches, soldiers’ accouterments and dog in the foregroound.  What do you see?

Genesis 48 tells us that Jacob blessed Joseph’s children before he died, when his eyesight was failing.  As he was born contending with Esau for the rights of the first born, Jacob lays his right hand upon the younger of Joseph’s sons to bless him, which displeases Joseph.  Joseph instructs his father to lay his hand upon the older child, but Jacob refused, saying, “I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.”  Thus ends Genesis as “captured” by Rembrandt:

Jacob Blessing the Children of Joseph REMBRANDT (1606 – 1669)

See http://www.artbible.info/art/large/421.html for the source of the above photograph of the painting and a brief description.  The commentary notes that Rembrandt (charitably) chose not to represent Joseph’s displeasure.

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/

Unexpected Reunion

Genesis 43-45 tells us that Israel ‘s country is also suffering famine.  He hears that there is plenty of grain for sale in Egypt; so, he sends his sons, all, that is, except Benjamin, his youngest son, of whom he cannot bear to risk loss.    Here is that story in  “pictures.”

The Story of Joseph GHIBERTI (1378-1455)

See http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/g/ghiberti/paradiso/2joseph.html for the source of the above photograph of the gilded bronze panel and a brief description.   You will notice, again, Ghiberti’s representation of several separate scenes in one panel, thereby representing at once the whole story.

The Search for the Cup BACCHIACCA (1494 – 1557)

See http://www.terminartors.com/artworkprofile/Bacchiacca_Francesco-Scenes_from_the_Story_of_Joseph_The_Search_for_the_Cup for the source of the above photograph of the painting.

The Discovery of the Stolen Cup BACCHIACCA

See http://www.backtoclassics.com/gallery/bacchiacca/scenesfromthestoryofjosephthediscoveryofthestolencup/ for the source of the above photoraph of the painting.

Discovery of the Golden Cup GHIBERTI

Recognition of Joseph by his Brothers CORNELIUS (1783-1867)

See http://www.terminartors.com/artworkprofile/Cornelius_Peter_von-The_Recognition_of_Joseph_by_his_Brothers for the source of the above photograph of the painting.

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/

Potiphar’s Wife and Pharaoh’s Dream

Joseph is taken by the traders to Egypt, where he is sold to Potiphar, captain of the Pharoah’s guard.   While in faithful service to Potiphar, Jacob rejects the advances of Potiphar’s wife.  She feels scorned, and she became the epitome of the statement often attributed to Shakespeare concerning a woman scorned . . .   Joseph is imprisoned where he interprets dreams of fellow prisoners, not always with good news (Genesis 40), and he is forgotten.  Some time thereafter, Pharoah has a disturbing dream and one former prisoner-returned-to service-of -the-Pharoah remembers Joseph. Joseph “just happens to be in the right place at the right time.”  He remembers Joseph and the Pharoah summons Joseph from prison to interpret his dream.  (Genesis 41).

There are a number of paintings of the story about how Potiphar’s wife took a special liking to Joseph and attempted to seduce him.  Rembrandt takes that opportunity to study of the human condition and character.

Joseph Accused by Potiphar’s Wife REMBRANDT (1606 – 1669)

See http://www.artbible.info/art/large/360.html for the source of the above photograph of the painting and description.  For an excellent, detailed analysis of the painting, see http://www.customessaymeister.com/customessays/Fine%20Arts/4078.htm  Again, I see in the painting Joseph’s resignation to his fate, without protest, as though there might be some meaning in the madness -yet again.

Joseph Interpreting  Pharaoh’s Dream CORNELIUS (1783-1867)

See http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/c/corneliu/fresco1.html for the above photograph of the fresco and a description.

Joseph tells the Pharoah that his dream means that a famine is coming, but that the Pharoah can prepare for those hard times because first there will be years of plenty.  A grateful Pharoah puts Joseph in charge of storing grain in preparation – a great rags-to-riches story.

Joseph Selling Wheat to the People BREENBURGH (ca. 1598 – 1657)

See http://www.terminartors.com/artworkprofile/Breenbergh_Bartholomeus-Joseph_Selling_Wheat_to_the_People for the source of the above photograph of the painting.

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/

Joseph the Dreamer

Joseph is born to Jacob and Rebecca.  Genesis 37.  He was a dreamer and he didn’t mind sharing his dreams, not only his brothers, but even with his father.   Rembrandt captures that moment:

Joseph Tells His Dreams to Jacob REMBRANDT (1606 – 1669)

See http://www.spaightwoodgalleries.com/Pages/Rembrandt.html for a photograph of the above etching and a description of it.

Joseph Tells His Dreams to Jacob REMBRANDT (1606 – 1669)

See http://www.artbible.info/art/large/564.html for the source of the photograph of the painting.

In each of the above works of art, Rembrandt studies various reactions of Jacob’s brother and of his father.

Of course, the result is that the brothers are jealous and get rid of Joseph by selling him to some passing slave traders going to Egypt.  Genesis 37.

Joseph is Pulled Out of the Well ANNONYMOUS (18th Century)

See http://www.artbible.info/art/large/742.html for a photograph of the above illumination.  It is particularly interesting to me because it is the work of a Muslim artist inserted into a Persian poem, despite Islamic general disapproval of artistic rendition of images, particularly those of the human body, and because it tells the story from an Islamic  point of view.   See http://www.studiesincomparativereligion.com/public/articles/Perennial_Values_in_Islamic_Art-by_Titus_Burckhardt.aspx for the source of the above photograph of the painting.

Joseph Sold by his Brothers BACCHIACCA (1494 – 1557)

See http://www.lib-art.com/artgallery/20784-scenes-from-the-story-of-joseph-joseph-sold-by-his-brethren-bacchiacca.html for the source of the above photograph of the painting.  For some biographical information on this lesser-known artist and characteristics of his style within Florentine Mannerism see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francesco_Bacchiacca. The style of painting reminds me of the Twentieth Century Mexican painter, Jose Clemente Orozko, particularly of his Zapatistas, see http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=79798, has a similar earth-tone pallette, stolid figures, and an even more heightened sense of rhythm.  Isn’t it interesting that visual art would convey a sense of rhythm, beating incessantly with a sense of resignation, in an inevitable, forced march to doom?

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/

Reconciliation

Genesis 33:3,4 tells us that the next day, “He passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.  And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.”

The Reconciliation of Jacob and Esau REMBRANDT (1606-1669)

See http://www.artbible.info/art/large/87.html for the source of the photograph of the above line drawing.  I love Rembrandt’s line drawing, not just because of his empathy for the human condition but because he says so much with so little.  In that sense it seems to have a modern, expressive flair – it seems to come to life.

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/