The Bible in Photography:
Index, Icon, Tableau, Vision
by Sheona Beaumont

Featuring 20 living photographers, including David LaChapelle, Josef Koudelka, Alinka Echeverría, Andres Serrano, Bettina Rheims, Adi Nes, Garry Fabian Miller, Kieran Dodds, Barbara Kruger, and more.

Also spotlighting historical images such as Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother, Francis Frith’s landscape photographs with the first Bible to feature photographic prints, Sister Mary Corita Kent’s instructions for using photography with the Psalms, Thomas Merton’s contemplative still life photographs, and the satirical zine collages of John Heartfield.

What do photographs say about faith? How have the places, people, and ideas of the Bible filtered into photographic vision? Photography was born and grew up in the increasingly secular West, and has become the ubiquitous visual language of our time: we have never invested more in the truth of its images. Yet understandings of how we practice belief in the medium are lacking. This book explores the spiritual depths of visual realism through the lens of biblical imagination. A wealth of photographers, publishing contexts, and theorists such as Roland Barthes and John Berger reveal the religious dimensions of photographic looking – from credulous, to critical, to sceptical. The changing faces of Christendom are seen through an interested lens. The Bible is exposed as contemporary visual theology.

Bloomsbury, 2024
18.9cm x 24.6cm; 266pp; 55 colour illustrations
printed on 80gsm uncoated paper
HB: 978-0-567-70653-9 EB: 978-0-567-70654-6 PB: tbc (July 2025)

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Introduction What You See is What You Get

PART 1: Between Word and Image in the Interdisciplinary Landscape

1 Interpretative Positions from Biblical Hermeneutics
2 Interpretative Positions from Art History and Visual Culture Criticism
3 Problems, Paradigms and the CMYK Model

PART 2: The Theology of the Real in Photography and the Bible

4 Index: Landscapes, Witnessing and Documentary Traditions
5 Icon: Identifying with Characters and Portraits
6 Tableau: Storying the World in Scene and Narrative
7 Vision: Shooting the Spiritual and the Apocalyptic

Conclusion Seeing is Believing

Detail images above: Underwood & Underwood stereographs 1900, Sky Sports advertising campaign 2011, Andres Serrano Immersion (Piss Christ) 1987, David Mach The Last Judgement I (Cologne) 2011, Barbara Kruger Untitled (Don’t Tread on Me) 1990, Josef Koudelka Bethany (East Jerusalem) 2010, Auguste Salzmann The Road to Bethlehem 1854, Alinka Eccheverría The Road to Tepeyac 2010.