we have considered the various ways in which the deity was depicted visually (or not) in Christianity, Islam and Judaism. What I would like you to do in this paper is to write about this issue from any point of view that you want and with any examples you would like to speak about (from the periods and cultures we have considered in this course). The overarching question is the following: why was it important to religion (any religion) to render God, the uncircumscribable, in material form? The mosaics in San Vitale in Ravenna provide a good example to consider this question from the point of view of Christianity: what were the visual forms in which God was depicted and why do you think they were chosen? Where were the images placed in the overall decorative scheme and what does their placement say about their meaning and function? The case of the Mosque would involve thinking about the word of God and how it is visualized in the building. Judaism was averse to the direct and literal depiction of the deity but are there any body parts (think hands) which are shown in the Dura Synagogue, for instance, with the implication that they belong to God? Why was the hand a denominator of the deity? You can concentrate on one confessional group or another or write about two or all three.
You may want to consider some of the following questions. These are suggestions for you to stimulate your thinking. It is not required that you answer any of them, but of course you can if you want to:
God is uncircumscribable and so isn’t a material rendering of God a contradiction in terms?
What is a portrait?
What role do God’s words play in religious art?
What is the relationship between the Holy Image and Holy Scripture?
What about the pagan practices of classical antiquity with regard to visualizing the gods: were any of these influential?
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