The Language of Colour in the Bible: From Word to Image


The study of the language of colour has generated great attention since the 19th century in several fields, especially philology and art; exploring the great civilizations considered the bedrock of Europe: Greece and Rome. Surprisingly the Bible, the other pillar on which European culture is founded, has been left on the sidelines of this research, creating a primordial void.

This research project aims to bridge this gap and provide a more complete picture of the language of colour in a book that has inspired both literary and artistic works: the Bible. An interdisciplinary study of the biblical text in its original languages can certainly shed new light on the interpretation of the image and vice versa.

The objectives pursued in the field of philology are to determine the chromatic lexicon of the biblical text, the sensory perception it reflects and the symbolic dimension from which it emanates. In this sense, we believe that the Apocryphal literature and the early Christian literature can shed light on the meaning of colour in the biblical texts both with regard to sensorial perception and symbolism.

Concerning the field of artistic representations which have been inspired by the Bible, the objective of the research is to study how the artist uses chromatic language to reflect the biblical scenes, as well as analysing how the biblical language is used and reinterpreted. The period chosen to be studied is that covering the 10th-12th centuries. 


Colour, Bible, Symbol, Medieval Minitures, Medieval Bibles

Current Term:



Marta Crispi
International University of Catalonia

Mónica Durán
University of Granada

Lourdes García Ureña
Universidad CEU San Pablo

Emanuela Valeriani
Université de Genève 


Member Area

Sofia 2024 Call for Papers


Living Colour: Feeling, Dressing, Painting and Writing

Ever since humankind has inhabited the earth, colour has permeated its reality as part of it. Thanks to colour, human beings have been able to identify diseases, express emotions, distinguish races and species and enhance or not their clothing, the home where they lived. Antiquity and the Middle Ages are a good testimony of this, because as Fernand Léger declared “Colour is a vital need. It is a raw material essential to life, like water and fire. We cannot conceive of the existence of man without an environment of colour. Plants and animals have their natural colours, while man dresses himself in colours. The action of colour is not merely decorative; it is psychological.”

For the 2024 conference, we are also welcoming papers which study in Antiquity and in Middle Ages:

  1. How colours were used to express health/illness, emotions or colour of skin in writing or artistic representation.

  2. What colors were used in everyday attire and on special occasions and why.

  3. Which pigments and dyes were chosen to decorate houses or decorative elements found in them and which was their function.

Please contact the chairs for detail: Marta Crispi, Mónica DuránLourdes García Ureña, Emanuela Valeriani