Vattnet ovanför. Om den himmelska hydraulikens ikonografi

A1 Journal article (refereed)

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Lars Berggren
Place: Åbo
Publication year: 2017
Journal: ICO Iconographisk post
Journal acronym: ICO
Issue number: 3-4 2016
Start page: 42
End page: 65
eISSN: 2323-5586


Title: The Waters Above. The Iconography of Heavenly Hydraulics
Christianity had no cosmology of its own and fell back on the ancient
Hebrew one, described in Genesis I, where the firmament is understood as
a solid (lat. firmus) dome-like structure that separates the water into
two parts: the waters above and those below. Beyond the firmament is an
immense expanse of water held at bay only by the firmness of the
celestial dome, on the inside of which the sun, the moon and the stars
are fixed. – From the beginning, however, this primitive worldview had
to compete with a very different and more sophisticated cosmos: the
Greek. At least since 500 BC they had imagined the earth as spherical
and surrounded by the moving spheres of the celestial bodies. The stars
were fixed to the outermost, crystal sphere – the equivalent of the
Hebrew firmament. Beyond this was the infinite region of fire (or aether), where Christian and Muslim philosophers later installed the empyrean heaven, the dwelling of God. – No such spherical division is found in the Bible, and it was only with Constantine’s legalization of
Christianity (313) that the need to visualize the biblical narrative
emerged. This article deals with the struggle of artists to concretize
and visualize the biblical texts in contexts increasingly dominated by
Greco-Roman culture – and to find a place for the waters above.

Last updated on 2019-14-11 at 05:09