It is great to see an article by one of our Visiting Professors, Martin O’Kane, in the inaugural edition of a beautifully produced open-access journal the Bible in the Arts (BiA) (Die Bibel in der Kunst – BiKu) . Martin specialises in the Bible and Art, and a number of readers will have enjoyed his lectures and guided tours, particularly around the Barbour Institute.
The journal is going to be particularly useful to anyone interested in reception history and the use of the Bible within the visual arts, as well as music and literature. It will also include reviews and reports on current research.
Martin’s article, Painting of King Solomon in Islamic and Orientalist Tradition, explores the person King Solomon, a very popular and influential figure within biblical and post-biblical tradition, as it appears in Islamic and Orientalist art. After examining Solomon in the Qur’an and later Islamic tradition, Martin explores the depiction of Solomon in Islamic miniature painting (illustrated) and noting that the prevalence of illustrations like these
…help to dispel the myth of the lack of enthusiasm for figurative art in Islam, especially in relation to how prophets can be portrayed.
Martin O’ Kane (2017: 17)
Martin then explores Solomon within the Orientalist tradition, with its focus on the increasingly lavish and exotic.
For those who’s appetites have been whetted in regards to Solomon, Bible in the Arts also includes another article by Antonia Krainer (in German), this time focusing upon the recent (post 1960) interest in the Queen of Sheba and what it can tell us about the way these old stories/figures can connect with our imaginative and creative worlds: King Vidor „Solomon and Sheba“ (1959) –Hintergründe und Wirkungsgeschichte
Did you know that, in the Roman Period, it would take you roughly eight and half days to travel from Jerusalem to Damascus in the summer time (July) or that if you traveled from Antioch to Thessalonica during the winter it would have taken you only eleven days, which is four and a half days quicker than the same journey in summer? What if your journey from Jerusalem to Damascus entailed a lot of luggage? Travelling by oxcart would take you twenty-one and a half days and set you back nine denarii per kg (based on transporting wheat)!
It is always exciting to hear news of a new journal – and especially so when it is open-access and published free of charge!
One of the major developments in mid to late 20th century biblical studies was the way research began to set the figures of Jesus and Paul within their distinctively Jewish contexts. Rather than viewing them as prototype Christians, New Testament scholars began to draw upon contemporary Jewish literature in order to understand them within a Jewish environment. Following the publication of Geza Vermes’ Jesus the Jew (1973) and Ed Sanders’ Paul and Palestinian Judaism (1977), the Jewish setting of Jesus and Paul have been widely acknowledged. It is therefore great news to hear of research that explores these Jewish roots (and their continuity) within early Christianity.
Contributions to the journal are made from a range of disciplinesincluding, Christian origins, early Jewish studies, the Apocrypha and
Pseudepigrapha, Dead Sea Scrolls, rabbinics, patristics, and archaeology and, in the increasingly fragmented world of biblical scholarship, is exactly the sort of initiative this area of study needs. This creates a wonderful sense of dialogue and joint exploration. Peer reviewed articles (some by top specialists in their fields) can be read online or downloaded (free of charge) in pdf format.
An exciting additional feature is the online forum. As far as I know this is an innovative step by Eisenbrauns and could lead to some interesting conversations and responses to the published articles. It will be really interesting to see how this catches on.
Eisenbrauns should be applauded for this venture. The JJMJS looks like a really worthwhile addition to scholarship in early Christian and early Jewish studies.