Title of the article:



Natalia V. Mikhaylova

Information about the author/authors

Natalia V. Mikhailova — Culturologist, Head of the Department, Moscow Provincial Universal Library, 24 Koroleva Ave., 141077, Korolev, Moscow Region, Russia. ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9394-4152 E-mail: natalja-misay@yandex.ru


History of Arts




Vol. 63


pp. 278–293


March 03, 2021

Approved after reviewing

May 05, 2021

Date of publication

March 28, 2022



Index UDK


Index BBK

85.153(2) + 86.37-2


Due to the historical and artistic features of the text of the Old Testament, illustrating its books has always been a difficult task, and this problem is particularly acute in Russia at the present. In the absence of high-quality series of illustrations by modern Russian authors, publishers resort to using the works by European and American artists, as well as works by Russian masters of past centuries, which leads to incorrect interpretation of the text by readers. The only experience in creating a full-fledged cycle of illustrations by a domestic author, which has become widespread and is used as a model up to the present day, are the works of an artist of the 19th century. A. A. Agin. However, the time of creation of these works and the academic training of the author affected the historical accuracy of the details of some images and the phenotype of the characters. As for the illustration of the Old Testament as a whole, the issue of distortion of spiritual and edifying meanings in illustrations of Old Testament events, as well as the problem of historical and cultural unreliability of the image, is considered using the example of the most characteristic scenes from the Pentateuch of Moses. The two most common stories in the illustrated Bibles that have been misinterpreted in the mind of general reader are the worship of the cast calf at Mount Sinai and the meeting of Eliezer and Rebekah. In some cases, not only the compositional features of the illustration, but also its color scheme, become a problem for understanding the Holy Text. Which is the case with children's Bibles, widely published in Russia in the 90s. 20 century, the meaning of Joseph's multi-colored clothes is almost completely lost. The author considers the issue of distortion of spiritual and edifying meanings in the illustrations of Old Testament events, as well as the problem of historical and cultural unreliability of the image on the example of the most common or characteristic subjects from the Pentateuch of Moses. The creation of modern illustrations to the Old Testament in Russia is an important task that needs to be solved in the joint large-scale work of theologians, historians, cultural scientists, philologists and artists.


Pentateuch, Old Testament, illustration, Torah, Bible, children’s Bible, Old Testament plot, A. A. Agin, Golden Calf, Eliezer and Rebekah, Joseph the Beautiful.


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