Modes of visual biblical interpretation in the Lutheran and Counter Reformations

Church, Chloe Alice (2017). Modes of visual biblical interpretation in the Lutheran and Counter Reformations. University of Birmingham. M.A.

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The images produced by artists during the Lutheran and Counter Reformations of the sixteenth century employed different modes of visually interpreting biblical texts. In Lutheran images in Germany, there was a dedicated focus on the literal representation of biblical texts. In Counter-Reformation Italy, paintings of biblical texts often contained extraneous additions that did not appear in the biblical narratives. Building on this hypothesis, my thesis identifies and addresses this question: How do these distinctive visual exegetical strategies correlate with the groups’ conflicting understandings of the status and interpretation of the Bible?

The Lutheran Reformers upheld the Bible with sole revelatory authority, fueled by the trajectory of sola scriptura, and produced images that clearly illustrated biblical narratives and incorporated textual references from the Bible. Contrastingly, the Counter-Reformists in Italy understood that it was ‘scripture and tradition’ that determined the rules of Christian faith and paintings can be seen to incorporate narrative additions to sustain the Church’s traditions and doctrines. Through the in-depth analysis of visual case studies from the two groups, this research proposes that the methods of visually interpreting biblical texts and themes are representative of the Lutheran understanding of sola scriptura and the Counter-Reformation position of ‘scripture and tradition’.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.A.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.A.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Theology and Religion
Funders: Other
Other Funders: The University of Birmingham
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR


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