I have tremendous admiration for Ben Quash for the contributions he’s made to the field of Christianity and the arts. As a professor at King’s College in London, his primary research interest is the way in which the arts can stimulate renewed theological engagement with the Bible. (Same as mine!)
His latest book, Found Theology: History, Imagination and the Holy Spirit, examines what happens when people in new contexts engage with old material, be it biblical narratives or texts, doctrinal formulas, or works of art or literature.
Most interesting to me was chapter 4, “In my flesh I shall see God,” an extended analysis of the Renaissance painting Contemplation of the Dead Christ by Vittore Carpaccio. Quash discusses the painting as a meditation on time, prophecy, death, and redemption.
The dead Christ is of course the focal point of the image, but second to him is the hermit figure sitting under the tree in the middle ground—identifiable as Job through cross-reference to The Meditation on the Passion, another of Carpaccio’s paintings in which a very similar-looking figure sits on a marble slab with the Hebrew inscription “My redeemer lives 19,” a reference to Job 19:25. Continue reading