> >Or the artists could have taken their cue from Luke.
> Or, perhaps, Luke was the first visualizer ("painter") of that scene.
> Ulrich Schmid,
I agree, Ulrich, if you mean that Luke said the Holy Spirit had the "bodily
form of a dove," and therefore must have seen or imagined (visualized) it in
that way. Along the same line, some of our earliest art, though rarely
mentioned in books on history of art, consists of the constellations people
"saw" in the sky. They imagined (visualized) that a line connected one star
with another, and came up with all kinds of pictures.
On Luke, many little details about him are fascinating. I don't know if
anyone discusses any more whether the events in the New Testment are
historically true. One argument against it might be the degree to which the
NT seems to recycle the OT, and therefore to be a literary invention. The
parallels, for example, between Peter and Aaron. Each is involved in a major
failure of faith yet holds the highest religious office, possibly to remind
us that everyone falls short of God's expectations and no better person was
available for that office.
On the other hand, some of the tiny details in the NT are exceedingly
naturalistic, as if no author (or only a very clever author) could have
invented them. Luke, for example, has Mary saying that God made a covenant
with Abraham. This is incorrect. The covenant was with Isaac. Would Luke,
as the only Gentile Evangelist, be less familiar than the others with the Old
Testament, and more likely to make this "error"?
One reason Luke's "error" struck me as a little slice of life rather than a
literary invention is that it's so small. Most modern readers pass over it
without noticing. One possibility, though, is that the human attention span
has been deteriorating over the centuries. Maybe people read more closely in
the past, and would have been more likely to notice.
I thought of this because some of my students are evangelical Christians who
take the Bible very seriously and read it over and over. They seem to have
instant recall for even the smallest details and nothing seems to escape
them. This strikes me as an old-fashioned way of reading that has somehow
gotten preserved in some sectors of society. I imagine (visualize) it as the
way the Bible was originally read, or was orignally intended to be read.
I wish, incidentally, that these students would bring the same intensity and
close focus to the reading assignments I give them. But they seem to bring
it only to the Bible.
City University of New York