The Bible in/as photography towards a photo-Biblical hermeneutic

Beaumont, Sheona (2017) The Bible in/as photography towards a photo-Biblical hermeneutic. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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The histories and theories of photography in the West today are commonly concerned with a wide range of visual culture contexts: from social sites of the images' production, circulation and consumption to their mode of representation as ideological construct. A referential scepticism towards realistic representation is practised across an expanding breadth of critical enquiry. However, largely absent from such histories and theories is a consideration of photography's religious history and biblical representation. This study investigates the history and theory of photography concerned with specific examples of biblical representation. Biblical subject-matter in photographs themselves, as well as in their surrounding texts, are examined for heterogeneous readings/picturings, evidencing a dialogical dynamic that cannot be characterised by simplistic illustration of a monolithic text. Visual culture criticism is drawn on to present the results as both a short history, and through four extended discussions of particular artists: Rev. Alexander Keith (1792-1880), Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879), David Mach (1956-) and the duo Adam Broomberg (1970-) and Oliver Chanarin (1971-). Recent biblical studies, concerned with the interface between the Bible and contemporary culture, is engaged to illuminate the literary qualities of the ancient text and to critically establish imaginative re-tellings. The interdisciplinary approach emphasises the common hermeneutical ground in realistic representation between photographic image and biblical text. Further, it demonstrates that referential scepticism can recognise, rather than deny, the plural material and theological inflections of the Bible's continuing appearance in photography. To that end, a photo-biblical hermeneutic is suggested with the terms index, icon, tableau, and vision as theoretical tools for interdisciplinary criticism. These terms develop and practise a reflexive, mutual, representational theory in which traditional ontological and institutional separation between image and text is eschewed. Instead, the role of the viewer/reader brings to visual culture criticism and biblical reception studies an existential hermeneutics. Within this framework, a photo-biblical vocabulary enables a richer integration and deeper complexity of religious ideas to be expressed at the interface of theology and contemporary visual art.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
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Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
T Technology > TR Photography
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creatives
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2022 14:45
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:55

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