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Search: Colloquium 17 (Fall 2019)

October 7 @ 1:00 pm - 1:50 pm

Elijah in the Desert by Washington Allston
Oil on canvas
(H: 125.1 × W: 184.8 cm)

Allston is considered America’s first Romantic painter. He took the subject for Elijah in the Desert from the Old Testament. In 1 Kings 17:1–7, God ordered the prophet into the desert where he was miraculously kept alive by ravens, which brought him bread and meat. Allston conveyed Elijah’s experience and appealed to the viewer’s emotional rather than intellectual response through the bleakness of the vast, inhospitable landscape, painted in a sober palette of browns, steely blues, and grays. The mood of desolation and abandonment is underscored by the tiny size of the figure. The sources for Allston’s work here reflect his study of the old masters during his time abroad and include the Venetian Renaissance artist Titian, for his subtle manipulation of expressive color, and the Baroque painter Salvator Rosa, for the drama of the composition (Davis et al., American Painting).

Museum of Fine Art, Boston, Massachusetts


1 Kings 5-2 Kings 14 in the NOAB

Topic of Discussion

In 1 Kings we see the final transformation of the Israelites under Solomon from a group of semi-nomadic tribes into a nation with a royal seat of power and temple in Jerusalem. Like his father, Solomon falls short of fulfilling Yahweh’s mandates and sets the kingdom on a trajectory toward tribal conflict, disunion, and ultimately subjugation to external powers. The reading for this colloquium presents the accomplishments of Solomon and the division of the kingdom into Judah in the south and Israel in the north, and then recounts the reigns of ten kings of Judah and twelve kings of Israel. Over this time, the relationship between the prophets and those who wield secular authority undergoes a transformation from one of relative cooperation to one of antagonism. In Elijah and Elisha the prophet’s role as political, religious, and social critic, the voice from the wilderness, take form. For our discussion in colloquium, consider the figures of Uta-napishti in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Calchas in Iphigenia at Aulis and the Iliad, and Joseph, Moses, Samuel, Nathan, Ahijah, Elijah, and Elish in the Hebrew Bible. How are they similar and different? How are their relationships to the gods and the people they serve similar and different?


October 7
1:00 pm - 1:50 pm
Event Category:


Barret 216
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