Monday, May 17, 2010

"Vision of Deuteronomy," by Pierre-Henry Buisson

As his final project for my Deuteronomy seminar, my student Pierre-Henry created this visual representation of some central themes of our course work together. Take a moment to give the painting a close look, and feel free to add your interpretations of the piece using the "comments" function below.

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At the center of the image is Mount Horeb/Sinai, the mountain of God's revelation, of Israel's assembly, and of the alliance between God and God's people. Pierre-Henry notes that as the eye moves across the painting from left to right, one leaves the darkness of slavery in Egypt and begins to experience a brighter side of promise on the right. On the far left side of the painting in the middle of the left border, one can see the pyramids of Egypt on the horizon. As the journey of Deuteronomy progresses, one's eye leaves the symbols of slavery and moves diagonally down to the right, past Sinai and the giving of the Torah, into covenant, love, and justice, symbolized by the clasped hands in the Jordan river, and then into the lush green land of promise, where, along with the image of the tree, one finds community rooted in the land, linking human mutuality and its material supports.

The sun-like, volcano-like, ball of fire atop Mount Sinai represents Pierre-Henry's interpretation of Deuteronomy 4:11-12. The Deuteronomic tradition is fond of conveying the awe-inspiring nature of God's appearance with the use of thunder-storm imagery (also cf. 1 Kings 19:11ff.). Much more could be said about the motif in Deuteronomy that God spoke to God's people out of the midst of the fire (see Deut 4:12, 15, 33, 36; 5:4, 22-26; 9:10; 10:4). There are rich connotations here about the nature of God's dangerous intimacy, God's apartness, and the key instrumentality of God's Word.


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