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‘The Bosom Of Abraham’ (Luke 16:22): Father Abraham In The Visual Imagination

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Chapter Summary

The phrase 'in the bosom of Abraham' occurs just once in the Bible and yet has become one of the most powerful and intriguing visual metaphors in the entire repertoire of Christian iconography. As the focal point of the parable of Dives and Lazarus, it suggests a haven of protection and security to which all the (male) characters in the story aspire. The iconography associated with the image of father Abraham's bosom is both extensive and complex, especially during the period of the Middle Ages, but in this chapter, the author selects a range of representative examples to illustrate how artists and iconographers appealed to other biblical texts to help illuminate the meaning and significance of the phrase in Luke: in particular, the sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22; the infancy narrative of Luke including the presentation in the temple, and the woman who gives birth in Revelation 12.

Keywords: Christian iconography; Father Abraham; Genesis; Isaac; Lazarus; Luke; Revelation; visual metaphors



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