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March 24, 1972 - Image 52

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1972-03-24

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Social Contexts Affecting Second Commandment
Against Icons Studied in Gutmann's 'No Graven Images'

Anti-iconic biblical structures
outlined in the Second Command-
ment (Exodus 20:4-5) are dis-
cussed at great length in "No
Graven Images," an encyclopedic
work published by Ktay. Dr. Jo-
seph Gutmann, professor of art
history at Wayne State University,
an outstanding authority on art,
its history and literature, goes into
great detail to review a long-de-
bated issue and to prove the
existence of biblical art.
Prof. Gutmann Is the au-
thor of the essay especially
written to accompany the re-
printed Damstadt Gold Hagada
that has just been issued in
West Germany. The reprinted
Damstadt Hagada is priced at
$600. Dr. Gutmann's essay is
one of three appearing in a sup-
plementary volume to the Dam-
stadt Hagada. A portion of it
appeared in last year's Jewish
News Passover issue.
Quoting the Second Command-
ment — "You shall not make for
yourself a sculp-
tured image, or
any likeness of
what is in the
heaven above or
the earth below,"
etc., Prof. Gut-
mann asserts that
"much confusion'
has been engen4
dered by w r I t-
ers" on this sub-
ject; that the Dr- Gutmann
textual problem has not been re-
solved and that "we are still un-
able to say how much of the text
of the Commandment in the pres-
ent forms belongs to the original
formulation and how much it is a
later Deuteronomic addition."
Dr. Gutmann adds that "the as-
sumed literal adherence . to bib-
lical injunction is variously ex-
plained as arising from a pecu-
liar psychological disposition cal-
culated to preserve Jewish ident-
ity, or from biological reasons
which •burden the Jewish "race"
with an inborn defective sense
of color, or from a spiritual fac-
ulty insistent on worshiping God
In strict keeping with his divine
In "No Graven Images—Studies
in Art and the Hebrew Bible," Dr.
Gutmann has incorporated a
wealth of material intended to in-
spire deeper study of the subject
He commences with his own es-
say on "The Second Commandment
and the Image in Judaism" in
which he challenges the Church Fa-
thers and states that their utter-
ance "cannot constitute evidence
to support a contention that the
Second Commandment was ob-
served, nor can they serve to ex-
plain the existing practices of the
masses in general." His contention
is: "The conclusion to which one

'Immigrants to Get New
Housing, Not Tents'

NEW YORK (JTA) — David
Rivlin, Israel's consul general in
New York, took issue with Israel
Defense Minister Moshe Dayan on
the means to be used to house new
immigrants in Israel.
Differing with Dayan, who in a
recent speech offered to turn Is-
rael's army out under the stars
and turn over their tents and bar-
racks to new immigrants if ade-
quate housing for immigrants was
not available, Rivlin told the
Greater New York Aliya Confer-
ence meeting at the Lincoln Square
"We have.no intention of empty-
ing our barracks aud tents for new
immigrants. We are going to build
houses for them—however many
they may be—and for the old im-
migrants who are living crowded
in inadequate housing and for our
young men and women who are
leaving the army and getting mar-

is inevitably drawn from an exam-
ination of surviving material, both
literary and archelogical, from
the biblical and Hellenistic-Roman
periods, is that a rigidly and a
uniformly anti-iconic attitude on
the part of the Jews remains as
much a myth as the Procrustean
bed on which Jewish art history
has so often been made to lie."
There are six other essays, in
the total of 27 in this volume, that
are from the writings of Prof. Gut-
mann. Other scholars whose arti-
cles are included in this book are
Alfred Werner, Israel Abrahams,
Carl-Otto Nordstrom, Heinz-Ludwig
Hempel, Andre Grabar, Harold
Riesenfeld, George Kretchmar, Ot-
to Pacht, Wolfgang Stechow, Kurt
Weitzmann, Heinrich Strauss, John
W. Williams, Alexander Schreiber,
Cecil Roth, Richard Ettinghouse
and Pearl F. Braude.

The richly illustrated portions
of this excellent collection of
descriptive material adds im-
mensely toward an understand-
ing and evaluation of the his-
tory of art and the interpreta-
tions of the Second Command-
ment by Jews, Moslems and

Dr. Gutmann has added to his
several studies of the subject and
his contributions to the history of
art and extensive Prolegomenon.
In the latter, he makes these val-
uable comments on the matters re-
lating to Jews in art:
"Hebrew Bible manuscripts,
especially from Northern Italy,
reveal the Jewish involvement in
the Renaissance culture of 15th
century Italy. Affluent Jewish loan-
bankers commissioned manuscripts
from leading Italian artists, so that
the artistic styles of cities like
Pisa, Ferrara, and Florence have
left their imprint on the luxurious
Hebrew Bible illuminations of this
"Hebrew biblical illumination
had reached Its peak in 15th cen-
tury Renaissance Italy. After the
age of printing began, few surviv-
ing Hebrew biblical manuscripts or
paintings by Jews on biblical
themes attained great artistic
heights. It is only in the 20th cen-
tury that leading artists of Jewish
origin, artists like Ben Shahn,
Leonard Baskin, and above all
Marc Chagall, have again exploited
their gifts to interpret the ancient
biblical episodes. This is rather
remarkable in a secular society
like ours, a society in which the
BRde remains a closed book for
most artists and in which artists
no longer need concern themselves
with the rigid theological inter-
pretations or established religious
creeds of specific groups. For con-
temporary artists, the choice of
biblical imagery is dictated by a
fresh, emotional response to the
Bible according to the individual's
own private feelings and imagina-
"Chagall's Jerusalem Windows
constitute one attempt to interpret
the Bible in modern terms and for
modern eyes. The 12 stained glass
windows were made by him in
collaboration with Charles and
Brigitte Marq for the synagogue
of the Hadassah-Hebrew University
Medical Center in Jerusalem. Al-
though they are based on Chapter
49 of Genesis, Chagall adopted no
intellectual approach to these de-
signs—he was far more interested
in giving a symbolic rather than
an illustrative rendering of the
subject: 'I knew,' he has said, 'that
what I had done would be con-
firmed by the text for I have the
Bible all in me, in my heart, my
head, and in my limbs'."
Taking into account "misunder-
standings" regarding "the Jew
vis-a-vis the visual arts," Dr. Gut.
mann maintains:
"The misunderstanding has
arisen largely because writers on
the subject have quoted indiscrimi-

nately from literary sources such
as the Bible, Josephus and Philo,
to bolster their preconceived no-
tions, while they have neglected to
consider that these sources derive
from diverse social contexts and
from different epochs. In ignoring
key factors like time and social
milieu, scholars have virtually
hypothesized an identity between
the semi-nomadic Jew's view of
art and the views of Jews, such as
King Solomon or Joseph Caro, with
sharply contrasting attitudes. A
more adequate understanding of
the more complex problem of art
and its role in Jewish life is af-
forded through an examination of
certain key statements in the Bible
and in later works. Through such
an examination the scholar will
be enabled to grasp the intricate
relationship between these state-
ments and the particular social and
cultural contexts which gave rise
to them."
It is such extensive examination
that makes the Gutmann work on
"No Graven Images" stand out
as a distinct contribution to the
study of the effects of the Second
Coirmandment and the actual Jew-
ish practices in relation to the
anti-iconic strictures.


52—Friday, March 24, 1972

`Exodus' to Be Translated Into Greenland Dialect

Israel ambassador to Denmark,
Moshe Leshem, has written to the
Danish minister of culture, Niels
Matiasen, requesting the govern-
ment's help in the matter of pub-
lishing a book in the Lapp dialect
in Greenland. The book is Leon
Uris's best-seller, Exodus.
Not long ago a Catholic priest,
who is a friend of Israel, finished

the translation of Exodus into the
dialect spoken by the inhabitants
of the Arctic Greenland, which be-
longs to Denmark.

The priest, Fin Linde, also was
the organizer of the first trip of
Greenlanders and Lapps to Israel
some six months ago. Leshem's

request was "well met" by Matia-
sea, sources close to the Minister


Honor the PASSOVER

Produced under strict Rabbinical supervision. Certificate on request.

Fillet of Sole With Orange

Sauce and Onion Rings
Makes aobut 4 servings
3 tablespoons Planters Peanut Oil
2 teaspoons potato starch
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 pound sole fillets
Salt and pepper to taste
Planters Peanut Oil
Orange slices
In a small sauce pan, blend
peanut oil and potato starch until
smooth. Stir in orange juice
and wine. Cook over medium
heat, stirring constantly,
Until mixture comes to a boil.
Add sliced onion; cover
and simmer 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, season fillets with
salt and pepper and saute
about five minutes in
enough oil to cover bottom
of skillet. Place on heated platter;
spoon hot orange sauce over
fillets. Garnish with orange slices.

A Passover
Passover Oil



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