Sacer and Profanus Represented in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism (1030 words)

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Question

Discuss the meeting of sacer and profanus as illustrated in the architecture and decoration of Christian churches/cathedrals, Jewish synagogues, and Islamic mosques discussed by Soltes in chapters 10 through 14. Answers must include The Abbey Church of Saint-Denis, the Hagia Sophia (church and mosque), the Dome of the Rock Mosque, and Altneu Synagogue.) In your answer be sure to include the following words/phrases:

•Torah niche, aron, bimah, mihrab, and parokhet
• Continuous narration
• Nave, apse
• Symbols, chi and rho
• Cross flanked by creatures
• Dome of the Rock

References

Soltes, Ori Z. Lecture 10: “The Beginnings of Jewish Art.” Goldman Professorial
Lecturer in Theology and Fine Arts at Georgetown University. Retrieved online from
Youtube.

Soltes, Ori Z. Lecture 11: Christian Medieval Art and Architecture Goldman Professorial
Lecturer in Theology and Fine Arts at Georgetown University. Retrieved online from
Youtube.

Soltes, Ori Z. Lecture 12: “The Language of Romanesque and Gothic Art.” Goldman
Professorial Lecturer in Theology and Fine Arts at Georgetown University. Retrieved
online from Youtube.

Soltes, Ori Z. Lecture 13: “Islamic Art from Abstract to Figurative.” Goldman Professorial
Lecturer in Theology and Fine Arts at Georgetown University. Retrieved online from
Youtube.

Soltes, Ori Z. Lecture 14: Jewish Medieval Art and Architecture” Goldman Professorial
Lecturer in Theology and Fine Arts at Georgetown University. Retrieved online from
Youtube.

Solution Preview

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       Professor Soltes, in lectures ten through fourteen, talks about how the idea of sacer and profanus can be seen as visuals in the buildings and decorative arts of both Christian churches, Jewish synagogues, and Islamic mosques throughout history. Sacer means holiness and profanus means secular. How do these two ideas -- both sacer and profanus meet? In this paper, Soltes’ ideas will be talked about in full.
       First Soltes talks about the early Jewish art and architecture. In general, art is a place where “The artist is opening a doorway between our world and the next,” as Soltes points out in this lecture. All of the spaces of the synagogue are filled with sacred art so evil won't corrupt the world we live. Soltes makes the marvelous observation that everywhere in these ancient synagogues are images of the old story of how Abraham was to kill his son Isaac but God stopped him -- even though it was God who commanded him. In the Torah niche, the place in the synagogue where the Torah, the ancient scrolls that hold the five books of the Jewish scriptures, there is often an artist's’ representation of this story. The idea that God breaks through the profanus to reach Abraham and to make a sacred meeting. Again Soltes uses the example of Aaron the high priest who was the brother to Moses. For Jews, all of these artistic representations from Jewish history come together in what Soltes says a part stands for the whole. In fact, it is like all of Jewish History is being told as a continuous narrative where the sacred time is different from the way we view time on earth....

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