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May 26, 1978 - Image 56

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1978-05-26

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56 Friday, May 26, 1918


Fourth Volume in Series by Dr. Gutmann

Idols: Their Place and Destruction in World's Major Religions


struction of these images
is iconoclasm, the subject
of this book.

(Editor's note: Dr.
Goldman is director of
the Wayne State Univer-
sity Press.)

Joseph Gutmann, profes-
sor of art history at Wayne
State University, organized
a group of distinguished
historians to study and re-
port on the causes and
meaning of the destruction
of religious images for a
meeting of the Society of Bi-
blical Literature in 1976.
This book, "The Image and
the Word: Confrontations in
Judaism, Christianity, and
Islam" (Missoula, Montana,
Scholars Press), records the
talks, looking at the atti-
tudes toward images held
by the three major religions.
Jews are accustomed to
the absence of statuary in
their prayer halls. Portraits
of past presidents and com-
munity leaders, and even
works of art, may decorate
the foyers and recreation
halls of the synagogues and
temples, but the sanctuary
itself holds no graven im-
ages, and every Jew knows
why: the biblical injunction
against images forbids their
In the Catholic church it
is quite otherwise, for
carved and painted statuary
dominates the building in-
side and out; figures from


the Bible people the walls
and shine in the stained
glass wind.ws. The Protes-
tant churches, as if to show
their stricter adherence to
the words of the Bible,
ousted such sacred art from
their buildings.

The world of Islam,
which accepts the sanc-
tity of the Bible, also
eliminated human repre-
sentations from its
shrines and mosques. In-
stead of such images, the
Moslem religious build-
ings are covered with
abstract and floral deco-
ration, and with con-
spicuously inscribed
passages from the Koran.
The study of the use and
meaning of sacred fig-
ures is called iconog-
raphy; the willful de-

Dr Gutmann and his fel-
low authors discuss the var-
ious appearances of iconoc-
lasm, the sources and con-
sequences of prohibiting
religious images, and they
explore the political, social,
and economic, as well as the
theological reasons for
image breaking.
The dominant theme that
comes through in these
seven studies is that the
elimination of the graven
image in synagogue,
church, and mosque cannot
be explained away simply
as adherence to the
deuteronomic prohibition.
That is the good reason, but
seldom the real reason, and
rarely the only reason.
Dr. Gutmann opens with
a review of Josiah's action
in the suppression and de-
struction of images as part
of a "sweeping program of
political, economic, reli-
gious, and juridical cen-
tralization in_ _Jerusalem."
The reasons were socio-
political rather than

Paul Finney (Univer-
sity of Missouri) attempts
to marshall the evidence
for Christian iconoclasm
pre-fourth Century CE
that led to full-scale pro-

"popular piety filled the
churches of Europe with
a diversity of sacred art,"
and the Church contin-
ued to view these idols as
the "Bible of the un-
learned." Sporadic out-
breaks of iconoclasm
were due to different cir-
cumstances, per-
sonalities, and localities
in which image breaking

hibition by the Byzan-
tines. Although there is a
paucity of evidence for
this early period, Finney
argues that the earliest
Christians, hoping to
maintain and spread
their creed, could not af-
ford to antagonize their
neighbors by holding
strictly to the words of
the Bible.

As we now know, chiefly
through the recovery of pic-
torial mosaics from the
floors of early synagogues in
Israel and the remarkable
painted walls of the Third
Century CE synagogue in
Dura-Europos, there was no
consensus of opinion on the
use of images in early
In the same manner,
argues Stephen Gero
(Brown University), there
was no agreement among
the Christian Church
Fathers. The east Christian
sphere of Byzantium went
through an image-breaking
period as a result of "revul-
sion at, and resentment to
the upsurge of image-
worship," and not for secu-
lar reasons.
Anthony Welch (Univer-
sity of Victoria) takes up the
use of images in the world of
Islam, distinguishing be-
tween the figural art found
in the palaces, as decoration


on luxury items, and on
Moslem coins, as opposed to
the use of calligraphy for
decoration in the holy build-
ings which was the result of
the wishes of the caliph.
Welch holds that the ab-
sence of images in the mos-
que is due less to Moslem
opposition to "idols" as such,
as it is to the fict that the
theology of Islam is rooted
in symbolic, non-figural

The apology for using
images in churches for
those who cannot read
the scriptural lessons is
examined by William R.
Jones (University of New
Hampshire). While the
theologians of the Middle
Ages argued over the dis-
tinction between repre-
senting saints and God,

Carl Christensen (Uni-
versity of Colorado) demon-
strates this thesis with a
case study of Protestant
iconoclasm in the cities of
Strasbourg and Basel in the
16th Century. William
Malty (University of Mis-
souri) in the final essay of
the book dissects a single
instance of the iconographic
plague breaking out in one
year in the Netherlands of
the 16th Century. _-
While these essays were
not written for the casual
reader, they are easily ac-
cessible to the student of
history, religion, and phi-
losophy, and he should not
be put off from taking this
valuable book in hand by
the pedantic multiplication
of backnotes. This is the
fourth volume in a continu-
ing series planned and
edited by Joseph Gutmann
on the theme of art and reli-

Major Public Conference Next Week

Hearing Integration Day at Center to Educate on Hearing Issue

The Jewish Community
Center and the Mitchell
Buddy Workshop for the
Hard of Hearing, Deaf and
Hearing will sponsor its
first workshop 12:30 p.m.
Wednesday at the main

Jewish Community Center

Coordinating the work-
shop will be Dr. Morton
Plotnick, Jewish Commu-
nity Center executive direc-

tor; Beverly Mitchell, ad-
viser and coordinator; Ei-
leen Bluestone, coordinator,
and Mimi Alspector, consul-
There will be 14 display
booths by professional
agencies and organizations,
a movie and speakers. They
include: Mrs. Jerome
Hauser, who will introduce
the panel; Rabbi Irwin
Groner of Cong. Shaarey
Zedek, who will discuss
"Religion and Hearing Im-
pairment"; Dr. Mary Rose
Costello, audiologist, Henry
Ford Hospital, the medical
view; Jerome Trainor, pro-
gram director, PBS Cap-
tions for Television; Dr.
Richard Baldwin, director,
State Department of Educa-
tion, "A Personal and Gov-
ernment View of Hearing
Impairment"; and Bernice
Trabman, principal, Detroit
Day School for the Deaf, and
Edith Deitch, nursery de-
partment, Detroit Day
School for the Deaf, the
communication view.

Coordinating the Hearing Integration Day work-
shop to be held 1P..30 p.m. May 31 at the main Jewish
Community Center complex, are from left: Mrs. Sid-
ney Bluestone, Mrs. Jacob Alspector and Mrs.
Richard Mitchell. There will be display booths to edu-
cate the public on hearing and hearing loss and entitled, "Hearing Inte-
speakers who will speak on various viewpoints re- gration Day," will be
yarding hearing impairment
geared primarily to hear-

mg people. The focus will
be on the importance of
understanding hearing
impairment and improv-
ing communication, inte-
gration and friendships
between hearing and
hearing impaired people.

The following organiza-
tions and speakers will be
on hand at the display
Detroit Speech and Hear-
ing Center, Raymond Lin-
dahl, executive director;
Michigan Bell Telephone
Co., David Bassett, super-
visor; Jewish Community
Center, Mrs. Taminy
Chelst, audiologist;
Women's American ORT
and School for the Deaf,
Morocco, Mrs. Robert Mor-
rison, Mrs. Benjamin Bolin;
Public Broadcasting Sys-
tem WTVS Channel 56,
Jerome Trainor, program
director, TV captions
growth; Jewish Home for
the Aged, Evan Fishman
and Mrs. Marvin Fleis-
chman; Bnai Brith, Mrs.
Charles Ruben and Rabbi
Howard Addison; Detroit
Motion Picture and TV
Council, Mrs. James
Whitehead, Mrs. Stewart
Linden and Mrs. James
Euwer; Oakland County
Schools, Mrs. Beth Young,
director Project TALK.
Also Jewish Family Serv-
ice, Mrs. Tova Millensky;
Young Israel Sisterhood,
National Conference of
Synagogue Youth (NCSY),
United Hebrew Schools,
Jewish education for the

hard of hearing and deaf,
Mrs. Meyer Mandelbaum,
Mrs. Milton Duchan, Miss
Janet Fink, Mrs. Sidney
Kaye, Mrs. Jacob Axelrod,
Mrs. Walter Littmen and
Mrs Harold Berry; League
of Jewish Women's Organ-
izations of Greater Detroit,
Haddasah Speech and
Hearing Clinic, Mrs. Carl
Schiller and Mrs. Joseph

According to Mesdames
Alspector, Bluestone and
Mitchell, the workshop will
emphasize the following:
Hearing impairment effects
everyone, the speaker who
has a hearing loss, as well as
the listener, 20 million or
one out of every 10 people in
the U.S. has or eventually
will have a mild or severe
hearing loss and for every
one person who wears a
The Mitchell Buddy hearing aid, three more
Workshop for the Hard of should be fitted for one, ac-
Hearing, Deaf and Hear- cording to the Department
ing basically reflects the of Health, Education and
feelings of the late Welfare; from birth to
Richard David Mitchell, senior citizens, hearing
who felt the importance problems should be recog-
of respecting people for nized, accepted and treated
their abilities, looking for when symptoms appear: an
their positive qualities infant who does not babble,
and concentrating on necessity to turn radio and
promoting friendships TV louder, having to ask
through shared activities people to repeat or rephrase
in the community, be- their conversation or hav-
tween the hearing im- ing to strain harder to hear
paired and hearing chil- what is being said; hearing
dren and adults, Hillel's problems do not respect
"love thy neighbor as class, creed, or religion; and
thyself," and team coop-
many of the hearing im-
eration between the paired feel oral communica-
home, school and com- tion— the use of lipreading,
munity as stressed by the speech and captioning TV
Alexander Graham Bell
programs is easier than the
Association, Washington,
use of sign language.

Mitchell's philosophy was
The public is invited at no
to "Respect people with a
charge, however, reserva-
hearing loss for the things
tions are required. For
they can do and look beyond
reservations or informa-
the things they can't do for
tion, call Tilly Brandwine,
none of us is perfect. We, the
557-9251; Naomi Eder,
hearing and hearing im-
861-4407; Ruth Redstone,
paired can have a friendship
342-2155; Pearl Monello at
through activities we share
the Center, 661-1000, or
in the community."
Joanne Zuroff, 626-8957.

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