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 


Mónica Durán
University of Granada

Marta Crispi
International University of Catalonia

Lourdes García Ureña
Universidad CEU San Pablo

Emanuela Valeriani
Université de Genève 


Member Area

Syracuse 2023 Call for Papers

The Colours of “Good” and “Evil” from Antiquity to the Middle Ages

The history of the use of colour involves different domains like History of Art, Historiography, Archeology, Literature, etc. With reference to the history of evil, black color and darkness have been related to death and devil from Antiquity to Middle Age, such as its opposite, white, has been used as a symbol of light, purity, candor, and goodness. But also, other colours have been linked to “good” and “evil”, such as red colour to the last judgement and hell, or green colour to life and creation. 


Starting from this point, for the 2023 conference, we will accept contributions whose aim is to give evidence to colours related to the concepts of “good” and “evil”. We are also welcoming papers which study:

  • Colour terms related with good and evil in Antiquity (Hebrew, Syriac, Greek, Latin, and any other ancient language).
  • Metaphor and Symbolism of “good” and “evil” colours in literature or in the artistic representations.
  • Pigments and dyes used to elaborate the different hues of “good” and “evil” colours.
  • Restoration of artistic works and restitution of colours in religious painting.
  • The representation of good and evil in Ancient and Medieval Art through the (symbolism of) colours.


Please contact the chairs for detail:

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