Perhaps no other work of literature has had such a profound impact on the arts as the Bible. It has inspired murals, mosaics, stained glass windows, sculptures, and probably works in every other medium known to man. The Bible’s impact on art is a subject so broad, it could scarcely be covered by a single article, or even a book.
I think that the best way to do this theme justice, is to simply explore a few examples of just such works. While they are merely representative, they can at least give a flavor of how the Bible has influenced art through the ages.
Example 1: Mosaics in the Basilica of San Vitale.
This Basilica was built in Ravenna, Italy, during the sixth century. It includes a wealth of stunning mosaics. Among these is a depiction of two scenes from the life of Abraham: The three visitors at Mamre, and the Akedah, or binding of Isaac.
Example 2: Annunciation and Visitation.
These figures, representing both the Annunciation and Visitation recorded in Luke’s gospel, date from the thirteenth century. They are located at Reims Cathedral, in France.
Example 3: The Gospel Writers.
This stained glass window, depicting the Four Evangelists, was fashioned during the nineteenth century. It is located in St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney.
Example 4: The Black Hours.
This very unusual illuminated Book of Hours was created during the fifteenth century. Included is a depiction of the decent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, as recorded in the Book of Acts.
Example 5: Paradise.
This painting, which depicts various scenes from the early chapters of Genesis, is the work of Lucas Cranach. It was created during the sixteenth century.
Example 6: Ruth Gleaning.
French artist James Tissot produced this watercolor near the end of the nineteenth century, during a journey to Palestine. It depicts Ruth gleaning in the field of Boaz.
These six samples of art span over a thousand years, and represent various mediums and localities. The one thing they do have in common, however, is that they were inspired and influenced by the written words of Scripture – words that continue to inspire and influence even today.