An Online Christian Art Gallery!

I’d like to introduce you to a fantastic online resource that I used for many years as a pastor. It could also be a really great tool for Sunday School teachers, and honestly anyone that wants to include art in their study or teaching of the Bible. It is the

Vanderbilt “Art in the Christian Tradition” Divinity Library

You can visit it by clicking the link in the name above. The resource is all online, fully searchable by 11 different terms: scripture, subject, date, etc. It’s multicultural and has some great historical works as well. There’s some really interesting iconography in the collection as well. As I understand it, all images are free to use for non-commercial purposes and need only be properly attributed (and the site tells you how to do that).

NOTE FOR TEACHERS: Attribution style can be different for each piece of artwork though so make sure you read the instructions for each image you choose.

It is a part of the Heard library at the school, and the copyright is by Jean and Alexander Heard. I am so thankful for a tool like this, which has enhanced the ministry and teaching I have done for many years.

I have used art from this library as teaching tools (in PowerPoint or sermon presentations), or for youth lessons or Bible studies really for all ages. It is a profound thing to consider a Biblical passage visually through the interpretive work of an artist.

A Few of my Favorites from the Collection

In the gallery above you can see:

Jonah, by George Frederick Watts 1817-1904 – from Art in the Christian Tradition

I love how unkempt Jonah looks here, and just a little bit “out there”. It fits the Biblical story perfectly: not only did he just come out of spending days inside of a fish, but he literally is the guy walking the streets and shouting “the end is near!” Additionally, the artist has put him in front of a building that has carvings which depict some of the sins of Nineveh: gambling, drunkenness, greet, etc. You can read about Jonah in the book that bears his name.

Israel, by Mike Moyers, 2011 – from Art in the Christian Tradition

The story of Jacob is certainly my favorite Bible story, outside of the gospel which… isn’t that supposed to be everyone’s favorite? This artwork brings the wrestling match back to its physicality. We talk so much about the metaphor of wrestling with God, that it’s easy to forget that Jacob and the angel wrestled all night in that moment. I love the use of color and rough brush/palate strokes to capture the moment. You can read about this wrestling match in Genesis 32.

Forgiving Father by Frank Wesley, 1932-3003, Art in the Christian Tradition

Lots of artists paint the prodigal son parable, but I really like this one. Not only do I appreciate that the characters aren’t European (and wouldn’t have been in the parable’s first audience), I also appreciate that the prodigal son is almost dead. If you read the parable in Luke 15 you’ll see that the young man takes his rebellion from home down to the last penny and finds himself quite literally starving. It’s a miracle he even made it back home. I also appreciate the utter exhaustion you see in the son, because walking apart from God is absolutely exhausting.

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