Cultural Heritage and Identity

Portuguese: Patrimônio e Identidade ; Spanish: Patrimonio e Identidad

A series of lectures by Mariano Akerman

Centro de Estudos Bíblicos
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
September-October 2014

1. Sacred Text and Hebrew Art
September 2

2. Checkmate to the Queen: Ecclesia, Synagoga and the Queen of Shabbat
September 9

3. To Everything there is a Season: Allegories of Faith in European Visual Art
October 21

All lectures are given in Portuguese.

1. Sacred Text and Hebrew Art

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing...
– Exodus 20:4

Mariano Akerman checks the relationship between Sacred Text and visual image, underlying the conceptual and symbolic dimensions of Hebrew art. He considers the biblical episode of the golden calf and its iconography to evaluate its effects respect the Giving of the Law.

The lecturer explores the divine especifications concerning the creation of the Tabernacle, the Ark of Covenant and the Holy Priest's Breastplate. He analizes the functional, symbolic and artistic character of Hebrew art, considering the difference between "Jewish art" and "the Jewish experience with the visual arts".

2. Checkmate to the Queen: Ecclesia, Synagoga and the Queen of Shabbat

One only sees well with the heart,
the essencial is invisible to the eyes.

– Antoine de Saint-Éxupéry

This lecture is explores the ultimate raison d'être behind the ecclesiastical pair of allegories known in Latin as Ecclesia et Synagoga. Mariano Akerman compares their traits and attributes, indicating symbolic correspondences between them that have found expression in terms of a theological dichotomy. He examines the various meanings of Synagoga in ecclesiastical art during the Middle Ages and considers the subsecuent reformulation of that allegory in the Mahzor Levi and the Modernist imagery of Ephraim Moses Lilien.

3. Allegories of Faith in European Visual Art

People full of faith, but lacking of light
– Federico García Lorca

Used in art since Antiquity onwards, allegories are rethorical figures belonging to the field of fiction, but they are also suggestive and present meaningful attributes. Allegories convey abstract concepts. There are allegories that personify notions such as justice, love, faith, etc.

Throughout this conference, Mariano Akerman explores the origins, nature and importance of various allegories concerning faith and which have found expression in Christian art between the thirteenth and the twentieth centuries.

The author examines the theological pair known as Ecclesia et Synagoga (1250) and the one represented in a The Fountain of Grace (1450), to subsecuently consider some theological allegories of the Christian faith, particularly those being Catholic and belonging to the Spanish tradition. According to Akerman, the latter have their origin in ancient and medieval allegories such as Fides, Justitia and Ecclesia, yet feature a singularity which is conspicuously absent in the rest of their European counterparts.

Akerman also explores the alegories depicted in the Monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Madrid (1914-65) and establishes then an unexpected link between one of them and its visual source, whose nature –undoubtedly– is also purelly theological.

A time for everything
by Mariano Akerman

There is a time for everything under the sun.

A time to remain silent and a time to speak out.

A time to put a blindfold on your brother's eyes
and a time to to put it on our own eyes.

A time to indicate our neighbor's blindness
and a time to recognize it as our own.

A time to fabricate stereotypes
and a time to deconstruct them.

A time to manipulation and collective delirium
and a time to common sense and integrity.

A time to insist upon differences
and a time to perceive similarities.

a time to quarrel
and a time to reconciliation.

Synclesia, 5775/2014.

Um tempo para tudo

Há um tempo para tudo debaixo do céu.

um tempo de calar-se e um tempo de falar.

um tempo para colocar uma venda sobre os olhos do próximo
e um tempo para colocar a venda nos nossos próprios olhos.

um tempo para indicar a cegueira do vizinho
e um tempo para reconhecer a cegueira própria.

um tempo para construir estereótipos
e um tempo para desconstruí-los.

um tempo para a manipulação e o delírio coletivo
e um tempo para o bom senso e a integridade.

um tempo para insistir sobre as diferenças
e um tempo para perceber as semelhanças.

um tempo de se afastar
e um tempo de reconciliar-se.


Ecclesia et Synagoga
Las alegorías teológicas y sus atributos
El Prado desaforado
La llave del enigma
Cantar de los Cantares
Blindfold Collection
Venda y ojos cubiertos
Monumento al Sagrado Corazón de Jesús

• John M. Bugge, Virginitas: An Essay in the History of a Medieval Idea, International Archives of the History of Ideas 17, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1975, ch. III: Sponsa Christi, pp. 59-66.
• Bezalel Narkiss y Aliza Cohen-Mushlin, The Illumination of the Worms Mahzor: Description and Iconographical Study, 1985, pp. 79-89.
• Bartal, Ruth. "Medieval Images of Sacred Love: Jewish and Christian Perceptions," Assaph: Studies in Art History 2 (1996), 93-110; pdf.
• Sarit Shalev-Eyni, “Iconography of Love: Illustrations of Bride and Bridegroom in Ashkenazi Prayerbooks of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Century,” Studies in Iconography 26, 2005, pp. 27-57.
• Simon Holloway, On Crowns and Pointy Hats, Davar Akher, Sydney, 1.1.2007
• Robert Michael, A History of Catholic Antisemitism: The Dark Side of the Church, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, ch. 4: Medieval Deterioration.
• Brooke Falk Permenter, "To See or Not to See in the Middle Ages: Blind Jews in Christian Eyes", Vagantes Medieval Conference, 2010 (Medievalists).
• Katrin Kogman-Appel, A Mahzor from Worms: Art and Religion in a Medieval Jewish Community, Harvard UP, 2012.
• Laura Suzanne Lieber, A Vocabulary of Desire: The Song of Songs in the Early Synagogue, Leiden: Brill, 2014.

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