Academic journal article Theological Studies

The Sistine Chapel: A Biblical Tour

Academic journal article Theological Studies

The Sistine Chapel: A Biblical Tour

Article excerpt

The Sistine Chapel: A Biblical Tour. By Christine M. Panyard. New York: Paulist, 2013. Pp. xii + 96. $19.95.

A kind of reference work, this lavishly illustrated book will be useful to anyone wanting to know who the many biblical figures are that Michelangelo painted on the Sistine chapel ceiling, and how the ceiling works not only as art but also as theology. The author, a professor of psychology at the University of Detroit Mercy, writes as one who, relatively late in life, was awe-struck and remains so by the achievement of a Renaissance sculptor who protested that he was not a painter but nevertheless accepted the Sistine commission and outshone the outstanding painters of his day. Panyard shows how Michelangelo's ceiling frescoes demonstrate both knowledge of what Christians call the Old Testament, as well as real familiarity with the works of Dante and Savonarola. She also highlights the theocentric nature of the ceiling and its "completely new image of God" (19), an image that set aside medieval depictions of God as the unmoved mover, as a monarch reigning effortlessly over the universe. Instead, Michelangelo painted a God of movement and action, a God who soars through the sky and who works "with great energy to create the world" (19). …

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