Art, Scripture and Contemporary Issues

In a short series, curators for the Visual Commentary on Scripture will speak about their experience of curating for VCS in order to assist in understanding more deeply the value and potential uses to which the VCS exhibitions can be put by churches.

The sessions will demonstrate a central premise of the VCS’s approach i.e. that the ‘world(s)’ of experience and action that the Scriptures describe can speak meaningfully to the ‘world(s)’ that present-day interpreters of the Scriptures continue to inhabit; and that the ‘world(s)’ to which art has responded in every epoch can speak meaningfully to both.

Session 1: Tue, 11 May 2021, 14:00 – 15:00 BST. Register for a Zoom invite at: In this session Deborah Lewer will speak about her experience of curating an exhibition on Proverbs 11 exploring why she made the choices and decisions she did in relation to both text and images. Proverbs 11 is part of the oldest collection of proverbs in the book. It opens with a statement about the righteousness of true and accurate measures: Yahweh abhors a ‘false balance’ and delights in ‘an accurate weight’. Balance, uprightness, constancy, steadfastness, and diligence are characteristic of the ordered worldview of the proverbs. When their equilibrium is upset—by wickedness, crookedness, cruelty, avarice, folly, and violence—the ensuing consequences are both just and inevitable. Debbie is Senior Lecturer in History of Art at the University of Glasgow. In addition to her specialism in 20th-century German art, she is interested in relationships between visual art, faith and theology. She works extensively as a retreat leader and with churches, clergy and ordinands to open up the potential of a wide spectrum of visual art in worship, theological reflection and in pastoral contexts.

Session 2: Thu, May 13, 2021, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM BST. Register for a Zoom invite at: In this session Caleb Froehlich will speak about his experience of curating the Cities of Refuge exhibition exploring why he made the choices and decisions he did in relation to both text and images. Numbers 35, Joshua 20, and Deuteronomy 4:41–43 record the appointment of six Levitical cities as ‘cities of refuge’ to ensure that if there was an accidental killing, the accused killer could flee to one of these cities and be protected from the menace of the ‘avenger of blood’. This session will consider the provisions of the biblical cities of refuge from the perspective of sanctuary-seekers. Caleb Froehlich is a researcher for the St Andrews Encyclopaedia of Theology and an editor for De Gruyter’s Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception. He holds a PhD in Religion, Art, and Culture from the University of St Andrews and has two principal areas of research: the intersection between religion and popular culture (with a focus on twentieth and twenty-first century religious history) and culturally engaged theology (with a focus on art and media as spiritual, religious, and/or theological in potentia).

Session 3: Tue, 25 May 2021, 14:00 – 15:00 BST In this session Susanna Snyder will speak about her experience of curating the Ruth 3-4 exhibition exploring why she made the choices and decisions she did in relation to both text and images. The brevity of the book of Ruth belies its significance. It offers an answer to some of the most important questions the people of Israel grapple with throughout the Old Testament. How are we to respond to refugees? How should we understand and inhabit boundaries? Susanna Snyder is Lecturer in Ethics and Theology at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, and an Associate of the Centre for Theology and Modern European Thought, University of Oxford.