Saturday, June 11, 2011

What Is The Jewish Pool of Images?

 In the previous post I mentioned something that my New Testament professor, Dr. M. Robert Mulholland Jr. called a "Jewish pool of images." What is a "Jewish pool of images?" you might ask. To help us understand this concept, Mulholland used a couple of pictures to demonstrate this concept with an American pool of Images, including the one on the left. Can you understand what is being said there?

This is a set of images that people in the United States can understand. An elephant represents republicans, while a donkey depicts democrats. Once we know that interpreting the cover of Time magazine becomes fairly easy.

What about this one? What ideas or concepts do you associate with this white haired man in a star rimmed top hat? Why is he pointing?

The concept of a pool of images need not be relegated to visuals only. For instance, what if I told you that a person I know has horns, a tail, a pitch fork, and was red? What would you think of? Would you associate that person with good qualities? Would you want to trust that person?

If you asked me what car insurance someone has and I answered with, "the one with the green lizard" would you know what I was talking about? How about if I said I was hungry and wanted to eat at the golden arches? Would you understand what I meant?
This is what we mean by a pool of images. Each culture has a common pool of images (visual/or verbal) from which to draw.
The second commandment forbid the Israelites from making graven images, so rather than becoming a visual arts culture they became a language arts culture. In the following posts, I will explore some of the images floating around in the Jewish Pool, looking at where they came from and how we can better understand the Bible by understanding its imagery.

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