Lecture Listening Guides
by John Beukema
Lecturer: David Jeffrey
Title: Interpreting the Bible in Art: Rembrandt’s Bathsheba
Prepared by John Beukema
- When it comes to biblical commentary and exegesis on the story of David and Bathsheba, what seems to be the main focus?
- Regarding the artistic point of view, what seems to be most significant in the story?
- In order to focus on Bathsheba, what does that do to the biblical narrative?
- How do early etymologies of Bathsheba’s name give hints about how the story is imaginatively amplified?
- What does the shift of names from Bath-sheba (daughter of fullness) in 2 Samuel to Bath-shua (daughter of opulence) in Chronicles signify?
- Why did early and medieval Christian commentary remember Bathsheba only minimally, as the occasion of a great sin by an otherwise noble king?
- What does the spaniel (Bathsheba’s dog) represent and how does that change in iconography?
- How did Gregory the Great’s allegorical strategy connect Bathsheba to Beersheba and to Jesus?
- When the Patristic authors represent Bathsheba as a type of the law, what does her marriage to King David then signify?
- How did Lutheran illustrations suggest a more explicit, though not literal, depiction of Bathsheba bathing?
- Why did Catholic painters continue to provide explicit renditions of this scene even after the Council of Trent warned against it?
- Why is Reuben’s painting seen as a secular work of art, rather than religious?
- What items of iconography in Reuben’s “Bathsheba” advances this idea?
- How does Rembrandt’s 1654 depiction differ from Reuben’s?
- Which ethical point of view does Rembrandt represent?
- How does Rembrandt show his interest in the biblical text?
- Jeffrey grapples with the reasons for suspicion of art in the evangelical tradition. What two reasons does he list for that?
- What two answers does Jeffry give for ignoring those evangelical suspicions and embracing religious art?
- What truth is expressed in the common depiction of Mary at the Annunciation during the 1400-1700 period?
- According to Jeffrey, in what sense are we made in the image of God?