Figurations and Sensations of the Unseen in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Contested Desires

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Birgit Meyer, Terje Stordalen
Bloomsbury Studies in Material Religion
  • London: 
    Bloomsbury Academic
    , June
     352 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Judaism, Christianity and Islam are known to privilege words over images. This book shows, however, that the reality is more complex. Figurations and Sensations of the Unseen explores the complex procedures used to render the invisible as visible and the elusive as tangible in these three traditions. Working from different disciplinary angles, contributors reflect on figuration and sensation in biblical culture, medieval Jewish culture, the imagination of the unseen in Islamic settings, Christian assaults on 'idolatry' in Africa, baroque and modern Church art, contemporary Eastern Orthodox tradition, photography on the East African coast, European opera and literature, and more.

The book shows that the three religious traditions have formed sensorial regimes: embodied habits, traditions and standards for seeing, sensing, displaying, and figuring that which could not, or should not, be seen. So, the desire for seeing the invisible and experiencing the beyond are paradoxically confirmed, contested and controlled, by the sensorial regimes in vogue. This carries over even into secularized use of religious figurations in arts and literature.

Figurations and Sensations of the Unseen is important reading for scholars of anthropology, religious studies, Jewish studies, Christian studies, Islamic studies, art history, cultural studies, biblical studies and archaeology.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Birgit Meyer is professor of religious studies at the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Terje Stordalen is professor of Hebrew Bible and Old Testament studies at the University of Oslo, Norway and Visiting Professor at the Institute of Law, Aalborg University, Denmark.


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