David Jeffrey – Interpreting the Bible in Art: Rembrandt’s Bathsheba

Professor David Jeffrey (Baylor University) discusses Rembrandt’s Bathsheba, in a lecture delivered at the Lanier Theological Library on October 7, 2017.

The tradition of biblical commentary in the West is venerable and rich. From the outset, theology was essentially commentary on the biblical text exclusively. What is less well recognized today is the extensive role both literary and visual artists played in shaping the way people understood and applied biblical texts. In this lecture, David Jeffrey looks at some of the ways both late medieval and Reformation commentary dealt with one of the most awkward passages in biblical history, the relationship between King David and Bathsheba. Because of David’s key role in the lineage and typology of the Messiah, the story in 2 Samuel 11 produced a range of fascinating responses from both verbal and visual commentators, but perhaps none more profound than that of Rembrandt in his 1654 Bathsheba.

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