Ground-breaking digital biblical image project launched

Ground-breaking digital biblical image project launched

A ground-breaking project of the largest ever online commentary on the Bible through visual images is to be launched by King’s College London, following a donation.

The Visual Commentary on Scripture (VCS) aims to cover the entire Christian Bible – the Old Testament, New Testament and Apocrypha – with vivid clusters of images, curated by an expert team of scholars providing accompanying commentary.

The unique project will combine insights drawn from the three fields of Christian theology, art history, and biblical scholarship and it will offer a comprehensive, highly innovative and illuminating way of looking at the Bible. The digital resource will house more than 3,750 biblical images from all over the world and covering a period of 2,000 years.

Precious resource

Images will be drawn from every denomination of the Christian church, from both ‘high art’ and folk art traditions, and from the work of artists of non-Christian faiths (and no religious faith) when they come into creative dialogue with scriptural texts and scriptural themes.

It will be a precious online study resource for academics, clergy, museums and galleries, as well as members of the public with a strong interest in art.

The analysis provided will be twofold: it will comment both on the works of art that have been chosen, and also on passages of Scripture with which they are associated - examining how they interact and open up deeper meanings in each other. Further information and web links to both the art historical and scriptural background will be included.

The VCS’s digital nature will mean it will substantially increase the number of people from all over the world who are able to access the images and text.

The project has been made possible with a substantial grant from US-based philanthropists Roberta and Howard Ahmanson of Fieldstead and Company, who are major supporters of theology and the arts, and have supported many of the top American universities and leading UK cultural institutions.

’A unique and inspirational look’

Professor of Christianity and the Arts at King’s, Ben Quash who is directing the project said: ‘This is a tremendously exciting new initiative which provides the opportunity to create a unique and inspirational look at the Scriptures through the lens of fine art on a scale which has never been undertaken before.

‘We are extremely grateful to the Ahmansons for their generous donation, which will open up an illuminating way of looking at the Bible across a wide range of faiths and national borders, and will reach many different sectors of society.

‘It will offer a precious resource which will help people explore the Scriptures, ask questions about what they mean - and have meant over many centuries - and learn from their powerful visual legacy. It will show how biblical literacy is an inseparable part of cultural literacy. We are confident there is no comparable resource in existence.’

Towards the end of the project, a selection of the artwork and commentary on the VCS website will additionally be made available in a published format in several volumes.

A significant research team will be needed for the realisation of the VCS project, encompassing a Research Assistant, Post-Doc, and part time PhD Researchers. A Deputy Director, VCS Project, will also be appointed to work alongside Professor Quash.