Illustrating the Hebrew Bible

Opening Reception

April 20, 2010, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Biddle Rare Book Room, Perkins Library

Guest Speakers:  Professor Eric Meyers and Professor Kalman Bland

Dore childrens bible


From the Torah (Five Books of Moses/ Pentateuch)
From the Prophets (Nevi’im)
The Writings (Ketuvim)
The Kennicott Bible


The place of art in the Jewish tradition has been debated for centuries.  Scholars and Jewish Rabbis deliberated and argued over the meaning of the second commandment in the Decalogue*:

“You shall not make for yourself a sculptured image, or any likeness of what is in the heavens above, or on the earth below, or in the waters under the earth”
 (Exodus 20,4)

Frequently interpreted as a restriction against creating art for idolatrous purposes, the commandment was also understood as a prohibition against crafting images, and consequently, as the reason for absence of art from Jewish culture and tradition.

Nonetheless, Jews have created and used adorned ritual artifacts for generations, and visual images continued to find their way into Jewish homes and synagogues.

The twentieth century brought forth a flourish of Jewish artistic depictions of Biblical figures, scenes and stories, in a variety of forms and styles. This exhibit, curated by the Librarian for Jewish Studies, Rachel Ariel, presents a sample of the abundance of art work done by Jewish artists illustrating the Hebrew Bible.

*Decalogue:  The Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai


Last modified April 20, 2010 10:48:01 PM EDT