In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Book Reviews Stephen Prickett (ed.). The Edinburgh Companion to the Bible and the Arts. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014. Pp. xix + 576. ISBN 978 0 7486 3933 5 (hbk). In his introduction to this book, the editor, Stephen Prickett, Regius Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Kent, Canterbury, remarks about the ‘‘almost insuperable problems’’ of trying to cover the relationship between the Bible and the arts in the confines of one volume. This indeed is true, given the vast expanse of both the Bible and of the arts in their development through history. Both terms, the editor notes, are ‘‘less stable’’ than one might assume and so he begins by stating, ‘‘Overfamiliarity with such words as ‘Bible,’ or ‘the Arts,’ can easily lead to over-simplistic thinking about both. When linked, those chances are increased. One of the many aims of this book, therefore is to de-familiarise, or at least broaden our understanding of both terms’’ (1). Thus, he is well aware, of course, of the practically impossible task he has set himself, as essentially one is faced with the question of what to include and what to leave out in such a volume and what method to adopt in the criteria of selection. No doubt, as the arts are an umbrella term for all the arts from literature and visual arts to music, film, dance and theatre, and the Bible itself has appeared in so many translations and editions with a multitude of commentaries, to edit such a book, especially when it comes to being titled not only ‘‘A Companion’’ but ‘‘The Companion,’’ the task of coming up with something comprehensive, yet so limited, in only one volume, seems impossible . And this constitutes probably the most problematic aspect in this book. The editor emphasizes that his intention was not to provide ‘‘coverage’’ on the subject but rather to include a ‘‘deliberately widespread range’’ of experts, who were asked to make original contributions to their respective fields, and, were possible, to show the relationship between the Bible and the Arts in a new light . . . Our purpose is not so much to argue partisan positions as to illustrate the sheer range of possibilities currently in play, and to point out how fundamentally different this makes the current relationship between the Bible and the Arts from that of any other period. (4) He adds that these essays include ‘‘topics we think many readers may never even have heard of.’’ The book therefore is not just ‘‘about changing but also about rede fining those relationships themselves’’ and he hopes that the volume will provide Christianity & Literature 2015, Vol. 64(2) 205–234 ! The Author(s) 2015 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.co.uk/ journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/0148333114566773 cal.sagepub.com ‘‘new and constructive insights in both religion and the arts’’ (4). At the same time Prickett is fully aware of the gaps in the books and even remarks on how every reader is free to make up their own list of omissions. The question arises whether such an emphasis on diversity is appropriate and can be defended in a book which claims to be a (or ‘‘the’’) Companion. One glance at the table of contents makes apparent the sheer range of the themes treated here. Divided into three sections, ‘‘Inspiration and Theory,’’ ‘‘Art and Architecture,’’ and ‘‘Literature,’’ the publication includes 36 well-researched, well-written, interesting , and often insightful articles. In many instances one wonders, however, why they were chosen for this volume as they include chapters on markedly specialist issues, which, despite the editor’s emphasis on diversity and new insights, simply go beyond what one would expect and hope for in a Companion on the Bible and the Arts. I list some of the chapter titles for the reader to get an impression of the contents of the book and on how far-ranging and eclectic the chapters are. Prickett’s excellent introductory chapter in Section I, ‘‘‘What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?’ The Biblical Chain Gang,’’ which indeed does belong in a Companion, offers interesting and foundational reflections on the connections between the Bible and the arts whereby he concludes that...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
2056-5666
Print ISSN
0148-3331
Pages
pp. 205-207
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-04
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.