History Department
History Department

Medieval Bibles: Studies in Word and Image Symposium

Mon, February 25, 2008

No single text more defined medieval Europe than the Bible, but the medieval Bible was not a single, uniform object. We speak instead of medieval Bibles, acknowledging great variation in the wording and physical presentation of scripture. And we appreciate equally great diversity in medieval understanding of scripture, as expressed in word and image.

The three speakers are acknowledged leaders in the current re-evaluations of the presentations and representations of the Bible in medieval Christian Europe.

In "Bede and Fundamentalism," historian Celia Chazelle (College of New Jersey) draws especially on Bede's eighth-century chronologies of sacred time and commentaries on scripture, including the creation story, to argue that his exegetical readings were in part motivated by a desire to answer Biblical fundamentalists in his own day, with ironic and unexpected consequences.

In "When Two Become One," art historian Lila Yawn (Cornell University in Rome) examines illustrations of creation in the Giant Bibles produced in northern Italy during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, when the pictures served as rhetorical devices for Gregorian Reform.

In "Word and Image in the Bibles moralisees in Thirteenth-Century Paris," historian of science Katherine Tachau (University of Iowa) analyzes the richly illustrated paraphrases known as "moralized Bibles," produced by conservative groups to combat the "vain curiosity" encouraged by the new "pagan" learning.

Comment will be provided by UT Austin specialists: Prof. Dan Birkholz (English), Dr. Sidney Tibbets (HRC), and Prof. Joan Holladay (Art History).

The impressive array of departments and centers sponsoring this event testifies to the strength of interdisciplinary cooperation at this university. Many thanks to the Department of History, in conjunction with the Center for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins, Art and Art History, and the Departments of Religious Studies, English, and French and Italian, along with Medieval Studies.

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