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The King Of The King Of Kings: Images Of Rulership In Late Medieval And Early Modern Christian Art And Synagogue Design

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Chapter Summary

Political propaganda has been an integral function of visual art from its very early stages until the present day. The Jews residing in Christian countries had to balance their obedience to the king with their aversion to Christs proclaimed supreme monarchy. Consequently, the topic of the divine source of a kings rule seems to be almost absent from Jewish art in the Diaspora. However, it becomes more evident when comparing the symbols of kingship in the design of European synagogues and in Christian allegoric imagery at the waning of the Middle Ages and in the early modern period. In the sixteenth century, both Jewish and Christian symbols of rulership stipulate the dependence of mundane kingship on divine grace. Unlike the Christian images that aimed to confirm the existing governmental order or to express immediate political claims, the Jewish model of an ideal rulership created a vision of the messianic future.

Keywords: Christian allegoric imagery; Christian images; divine source; early modern period; European synagogues; ideal rulership; Jewish art; kingship; middle ages



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