Sacred Light from Shadowy Things


KESSLER Herbert L.

Year of publication 2016
Type Article in Periodical
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Keywords tabernacle; Solomon´s Temple; sancta sanctorum; Ark of the Covenant; Annunciation
Description Drawing on Romans 1.20, Hebrews 9-10, and other texts, Christian theologians -particularly during the twelfth century- argued that the ordained Old Testament realia, in particular, the desert tabernacle and Jerusalem temple, justified sacred Christian art. Image-makers followed suit, devising typological images to assert Christian supersession and, especially following Iconoclasm (726-843) and the Gregorian Reform, incorporating references to Jewish visibilia as a way of validating art and establishing its anagogical potential. A proto-reliquary, the Ark of the Covenant, in particular, was cited to justify material objects as containers of the ineffable. The biblical vasa sacra were also probed for the secrets of sacred geometry, ultimately serving as paradigms of linear perspective. The Ark of the Covenant within the tabernacle/temple also functioned as an apposite figure of the Blessed Virgin, especially at the Annunciation when the Holy Spirit entered her body in the form of light, replacing the shadowy Jewish things and making art itself possible.
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