THST 310 - The Gospel according to John - Fall 2003
Felix Just, S.J.

Exercise # 3

Biblical Analysis of Christian Artwork related to the Fourth Gospel

Now that you have read the whole Gospel according to John, letís look at how some artists have depicted particular scenes.

Pick a chapter, episode, or story in John that particularly appeals to you, intrigues you, or even disturbs you:

Choose a work of art (painting, engraving, sculpture, etc.) that depicts your scene especially well:

  • browse through the artworks already linked at;

  • or browse through the many art books available in the LMU library (see esp. Subject Headings "Christian Art and Symbols" or "Bible Ė Illustrations" or the books with LC call numbers "N" in the OVERSIZE section (upstairs);

  • or find another work of art in any large book, calendar, or poster (but not postcards Ė too small to show details);

  • if you canít find one work of art with sufficient details, you might choose two closely related artworks to compare.

Carefully compare your artwork with the biblical text of the corresponding pericope in the Gospel of John:

  • which elements of the biblical story ARE depicted in the work of art, and how?

  • which elements of the biblical story are NOT depicted in the work of art?

  • what elements of the artwork are NOT in the biblical narrative, and where did they come from?

  • in case a parallel story also appears in the Synoptic Gospels (check, pay particular attention to which details appear in John and which are only in one or more of the Synoptic Gospels.

Write a short paper (about 1000 words) that presents the results of your biblical/artistic analysis:

  • briefly introduce the artist and the artwork (name, country, and religion of the artist; date and style of the artwork);

  • mainly analyze the scene from a biblical perspective, comparing it closely with the text of Johnís Gospel;

  • briefly summarize how closely the artwork was influenced by John, and how accurately it depicts the biblical story;

  • mention the source of your artwork (the exact URL if on the web, or full bibliographical information if from a book);

  • append a printout of your artwork to your paper (in color, if possible; or a b&w photocopy, if from a book);

  • for the format and printing of your paper, please follow the same guidelines given for the previous two exercises.

Revising and Web-Publication (optional):

  • after receiving written comments from the professor and other students, you may revise your paper for a higher grade (unsatisfactory papers must be revised; papers that receive a "C" or "B" may also be revised and resubmitted);

  • the best papers will be chosen for publication on the "Johannine Literature" website (with your consent, of course).


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