SOAS University of London

SOAS scholar publishes new volume on Jewish and Christian iconography in Late Antiquity

27 November 2018

Catherine Hezser, Professor of Jewish Studies at SOAS University of London, has published a new book on Jewish and Christian iconography in Late Antiquity.

Bild und Kontext: Jüdische und christliche Ikonographie der Spätantike, published in German, looks at how late antique Jewish and Christian art was in constant dialogue with each other's artistic expressions and theological views.

Abraham's Binding of Isaac, Bet Alpha Synagogue, Israel

Abraham and Melchisedek at the altar: Christian basilica of Appolinaris in Classe near Ravenna

In late antiquity, new artistic expressions developed that disregarded the biblical injunction against figural representation and even adopted and integrated mythological motifs. This new iconographic language is analysed comparatively here in the context of late Roman and early Byzantine history and culture. Separate chapters are devoted to exegetical, mythological, and identity-building motifs. The comparison reveals interesting connections and differences in artistic expression, symbolism, and theology. In both Judaism and Christianity, art served to build and maintain group identity on the basis of the shared biblical heritage and in the context of Graeco-Roman culture.

The book is based on the annual Tria Corda lectures Professor Hezser delivered at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena in November 2017. To find out more about the book, visit the publisher’s page.