Why iconography? Archaeology provides Biblical Studies with information essential for understanding the biblical text in its historical context. An important branch of archaeology is iconography, the study of pictorial expressions. Pictorial expressions depict a vast range of subjects: the natural and cultivated world, daily life, rituals, ideas – even imaginative notions (e.g. symbols, imagery). Thus, ancient Near Eastern iconography provides the (scholarly) community not only with information about the world in which the Bible emerged and was written, but also evidence relating to the perception, symbol systems, and so forth of the people who inhabited this ‘world’. Studying pictorial material contemporary to the biblical documents (Hebrew Bible and New Testament) affords insight into the historical context of the text and facilitates an awareness of how the people contemporaneous with the text thought, imagined, and observed reality. For these reasons, and others, iconography merits sustained attention and effort as a road which leads to a more nuanced and more complete picture of many aspects of Biblical Studies.
Papers presented in this programme will deal with methodological issues and/ or address case studies in the common area of ancient Near Eastern iconography and Biblical Studies. Papers can be presented in the field of exegesis or history of religion (Israelite, Judaist, early Christian and pre-Islam). Because of methodological interests, occasionally papers can address topics of later date or cover larger time periods in presenting iconological overviews (history of a motif). Go to the top of the page
Call for Papers — 2015 Cordoba
Papers on all iconographic topics are welcome for our open session! This research group has a special interest in topics relating biblical texts with archaeological finds. Feel free to make a proposal that includes material found in Spain, e.g., from the Punics, or later. We further pay special attention to method and might still add a more specific call for this session.Go to the top of the page
As ‘Iconography and Biblical Studies’ research group we have published the following proceedings, partly in cooperation with the SBL group on iconography. Together with the proceedings, other publications of iconography contributions at EABS conferences are mentioned. Important publications of people involved in our research group will be mentioned below as well.
Proceedings and other publications of papers
Izaak J. de Hulster and Joel M. LeMon (eds), Image, Text, Exegesis: Iconographic Interpretation and the Hebrew Bible, Library of Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies (London: Continuum, forthcoming 2014); for more informaton on the Bloomsbury website, click here.
Izaak J. de Hulster, ‘The two angels in John 20:12: an Egyptian icon of resurrection’, New Testament Studies 59/1 (2013), 20-49 (partly based on an iconography paper in Lisbon, presented in the iconography program), click here for more information.
Izaak J. de Hulster, ‘Extending the borders of cultural memory research?’, in N.P. Lemche, P. Carstens and T. Hasselbalch (eds), Cultural memory in Biblical exegesis (Piscataway: Gorgias, 2012), 95-135 (iconography paper in Lisbon, presented in the cultural memory group and published in the proceedings of this group), click here for more information.
Izaak J. de Hulster and Rüdiger Schmitt (eds.): Iconography and Biblical Studies. Proceedings of the Iconography Sessions at the Joint EABS/SBL Conference, 22-26 July 2007, Vienna, Austria. AOAT 361. Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2009. xii + 239 pp. (ISBN 978-3-86835-018-0); for more informaton on the Ugarit-Verlag website, click here.
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Izaak J. de Hulster, Brent A. Strawn and Ryan P. Bonfiglio (eds.), Iconographical Exegesis of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament: An Introduction to Its Theory, Method, and Practice (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, forthcoming 2014); textbook for iconographic exegesis, click here for more information.
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The following brief reports about the previous meetings give an impression of topics dealt with and references to publications of papers presented in the iconography sessions.
We were happy to celebrate seven years of ‘Iconography and Biblical Studies’ research group in Vienna where we have started in 2007 – like then, again at a joint EABS-SBL conference. We look back at a high-quality meeting! Thanks to our presenters from all over the world! In addition to two iconography sessions, we had a joint session with the SBL ‘Ritual in the Biblical World’ program unit. (see also: SBL international meeting online program book.
The Leipzig meeting covered a wide range of iconography related topics.
The program included:
Soetkin Vanhauwaert, The potency of a Bible verse: The caput in disco of John the Baptist and its reception history (Katholieke Univ. Leuven)
Dolores Kamrada, Akedah: Ancient Depictions in Their Ancient Context (Pázmány Péter Catholic University / Universität Wien)
Izaak J. de Hulster, From crisis to chorus: reflections on the night theme in Psalms 104 and 134 (Georg-August-Universität – Göttingen)
Delia C. Petreanu, Genesis 18:1-15 between modern commentaries, patristic views and iconography (University of Bucharest)
Florian Lippke, ‘Images that don’t explain themselves?’ Necessary prior knowledge for Pre-Hellenistic Iconography (University of Bern)
Brian Schmidt, Revisiting Kuntillet Ajrud (University of Michigan – Ann Arbor)
At the EABS / SBL joint conference in Amsterdam (together with SOTS and OTW), our ‘Iconography and Biblical Studies’ Research Group has cooperated again with the SBL ‘Ancient Near Eastern Iconography and the Bible’ program unit. There were two session with a variety of papers in iconographic exegesis and related topics in iconography from an archaeological point of view.
The iconography session at the 2011 conference in Thessaloniki had papers including both Old and New Testament and paying attention to the early reception history of biblical texts within the biblical canon and in Early Christian art.
At the Tartu conference the EABS Iconography and Biblical Studies Research Group organized a session with the SBL groups on Hebrew Bible and Iconography and was therefore limited to contributions on Hebrew Bible/ OT. Papers of the Tartu meeting will be published together with several other papers from SBL sessions in Izaak J. de Hulster and Joel M. LeMon (eds), Image, Text, Exegesis: Iconographic Interpretation and the Hebrew Bible, Library of Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies (London: Continuum, forthcoming 2014); for more informaton on the Bloomsbury website, click here.
2007-2009: Vienna, Lisbon, Lincoln
The Iconography and Biblical Studies Research Group started as the joint EABS/SBL conference in Vienna and continued in Lisbon. In Lisbon and Lincoln there was cooperation with the cultural memory group. Papers from the Vienna conference (2007) are published as: Izaak J. de Hulster / Rüdiger Schmitt (eds.): Iconography and Biblical Studies. Proceedings of the Iconography Sessions at the Joint EABS/SBL Conference, 22-26 July 2007, Vienna, Austria. AOAT 361. Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2009. xii + 239 pp. (ISBN 978-3-86835-018-0); for more informaton on the Ugarit-Verlag website, click here.
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Sources for the Use of Ancient Images in Biblical Studies (Old Testament)
Iconography of Deities and Demons in the Ancient Near East
Bibel+Orient Datenbank Online
The Iconography of Palestine/Israel and the Ancient Near East
The Iconology Research Group of the University of Leuven and the University of Utrecht