Is God an artist

Throughout the summer, the Documenta still attracts people interested in art on a journey of discovery to Kassel. Even in biblical times, art played a role - often in close connection with religion.
"In order to understand the world, you need access to images," says Altötting pastor and artist Hans-Ulrich Thoma.

God as an artist - Genesis 1-2; Wisdom 13, 5

The very first artist in history was God himself. At least this is the impression given by the first chapters of the Bible. In a huge creative act of creation, he created the earth in all its details. In the end he decided: "Let us make people, an image that is equal to us ... And God created people in his image." A little later it says: "The Lord God made man out of earth from the field and blew the breath of life into his nose." Like a sculptor, God formed man according to his ideas and then made him come to life. (Genesis 1-2; Wisdom 13: 5)

The prohibition of images - Exodus 20: 4f; Acts 17:29; Jeremiah 10: 3; 51, 17

"You shall not make yourself an image or any simile ... Do not worship them or serve them!" it says in the Ten Commandments. The commandment warns against ascribing power to man-made images or even worshiping them as gods, because "since we are of divine sex, we should not think that the deity is equal to the golden, silver and stone images made by human art and thought" . God is much more than man can imagine, and he cannot be captured in illustrations or made available, the Bible emphasizes again and again: "But all people are fools with their art, and all goldsmiths stand there with theirs ashamed Pictures; for their idols are deceit and have no life. " (Exodus 20: 4f; Acts 17:29; Jeremiah 10: 3; 51, 17)

Religious Art - Exodus 31: 3-5; 35, 25

Sanctuaries such as the tabernacle, the tent that the Israelites used as a place to meet God during their wandering in the desert, were lavishly decorated with works of art of all kinds. Goldsmith's work, carvings, and precious, richly decorated fabrics should decorate the room. The women in particular played their part: "And all women who understood this art stretched their hands and brought their web, blue and red purple, scarlet and fine canvas." (Exodus 31: 3-5; 35, 25)

Art for the Temple - 1 Kings 7: 1; 27ff

When King Solomon had his palaces and especially the temple built, he also employed skilled artists. For example, he had a coppersmith come to him to make the pillars in front of the temple and the religious implements. The coppersmith "also made ten stands of copper, each four cubits long and wide and three cubits high ... And on the sides between the ledges were lions, cattle, and cherubim, and also on the ledges and above and below the lions and cattle were drooping Wreaths. " (1 Kings 7: 1)

False Arts - Isaiah 40:19; Wisdom 13, 13; 17, 7

No matter how good an artist is in his field, if he has devoted himself to the wrong art, he will not get very far. For example, alluding to the ban on images, the Bible also tells of an artist who "takes a piece of rubbish that is no good, a crooked piece of wood streaked with branches ... and carves it with care when he's at leisure, and..." designs it with skill when he is at rest, and makes it look like a picture of a person or an ordinary animal. He paints it with red paint and uses make-up to paint its surface red, and where there is a stain he paints it over ". But no matter how skillfully he makes his figures, they will not become a real god. (Isaiah 40, 19f, wisdom 13, 13)

Not only similar, but also beautiful - Wisdom 14, 19; Sirach 38, 28

How difficult it can be to create something that actually corresponds to your own ideas is described in the Book of Sirach: This is how "it is for those who pierce seals and diligently paint pictures; they must remember that the picture is similar, and..." be careful early and late that they accomplish it ". The artists have to concentrate so much that the work of art succeeds that they have no time to look for wisdom, it says. Portrait painters were particularly clever. For understandable reasons, they banned the rulers more beautifully than the reality in pictures. (Wisdom 14, 19, Sirach 38, 28)

In biblical times, art mostly did not serve an aesthetic end in itself, but was closely related to the religious ideas of the time. Animal figures, painted or woven symbols or elaborately manufactured idols symbolized religious contexts or were supposed to represent gods. The Jewish ban on images should also be understood against this background. The danger of false worship of useless objects had been recognized and any pictorial representation was forbidden.

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