Biblical Art of Rembrandt

I featured a few of these in my video on the Advent of Monotheism and have not been able to stop staring at them since. Rembrandt’s paintings, I think, capture and convey the incredible grandeur, terror, and wonder evoked by the biblical stories better than almost any other artist whose work I have seen.

Sacrifice of Isaac (1635)

Moses with the Tables of the Law (1659)
Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem (1630)
Saint Peter in Prison (1631)
The Raising of Lazarus (1630-32)
Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple (1626)

Christianity before Christ

The whole of the varied religious life of mankind has been nothing less than a continuous ascent towards the unique revelation made in Christianity. For when specialists in the science of religions attempt to prove that Christianity is not original, that pagan religions already had the idea of a suffering God (such as Osiris, Adonis, Dionysos, and so forth) that Totemism had its eucharist in the form of communion through the body and blood of the animal, that most of the elements of Christianity can be found in Orphism and the ancient religious of Persia and Egypt, they are failing completely to understand the significance of what they observe. The Christian revelation is universal, and everything analogous to it in other religions is simply a part of that revelation. Christianity is not a religion of the same order as others; it is, as Schleiermacher said, the religion of religions. What does it matter if within Christianity, supposedly so different from all other faiths, there is nothing original at all apart from the coming of Christ and His personality; for is it not precisely in this particular that the hope of all religions is fulfilled? Former revelations were but anticipations foreshadowing the Christian revelation which was to come.

Nikolai Berdyaev, Freedom and the Spirit, pp. 88-9

Short book review: The Unarmed Prophet: Savonarola in Florence by Rachel Erlanger

This book is a terrific biography of Savonarola. Erlanger does an excellent job of bringing out both the culture of Renaissance Florence and the personality of Savonarola himself. Throughout the book, the reader gets a real sense of what life must have been like in that time. She also gives no easy answer to the question of whether Savonarola was a saint or a fraud. Instead, she paints us a picture of a very real and complex human being, part sinner and part saint and with a soul impenetrable to anyone but God and himself. The historical events are also related in a way that serves to keep the reader interested, often with a great measure of suspense and emotion. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about the Italian Renaissance and outstanding figures and cultural movements it produced.