Using the Bible as a Protestant Religious Practice


[…] In order to address the question of how the use of the Bible in Protestantism interacts with culture, I depart from two assumptions. First, Protestantism stimulated a specific use of the Bible, indicated by practices like the authority of biblical texts in theological reasoning, the discipline of homiletics as the art of text-based preaching, and telling biblical stories in Christian education. Second, Protestantism as a cultural influx made the Bible into a tangible and material, cultural object. For instance, the Bible was sold (economics) and in paintings the Bible appears as a material – usually leather – book (art). The tension between the use of the Bible as a religious practice and the way it changed European culture is illustrated in Vincent van Goghʼs Still Life with Open Bible. The painting shows a large open Bible and a small yellow copy of Émile Zolaʼs La joie de vivre, with a quenched candle in between. Itmarks the era of modernism and the farewell to religious authority. Van Goghʼs painting touches upon a cultural understanding of the Bible as a source of wisdom and the enlightenment move from biblical authority to modern thinkers. The painting questions biblical authority, yet it is not clear whether van Gogh enjoys it or regards it as a sad cultural fact. As the son of a liberal Protestant minister, van Gogh was raised in a context in which modernism and religion merged. His painting brings to the fore how the Bible has become a cultural artefact, reflecting amajor cultural change in the use of the Bible, while the painter tries to “reconcile the Bible with modern literature”

Kulturelle Wirkungen Der Reformation/Cultural Impact of the Reformation Kongressdokumentation Lutherstadt Wittenberg August 2017/Kongressdokumentation Lutherstadt Wittenberg August 2017. Band II.