Posted by: Billy Marsh | April 28, 2008

For Glory and Beauty: Intro

As the issue of Christ and culture becomes a more prominent topic at hand for the Christian church to discuss and to address, one avenue of interest that seems to stand out among most others is the purpose, or rather, the place of art in the believer’s life, or more so, the Christian community. I’d like to use the word “art” in these forthcoming posts to designate a broad spectrum of artistic endeavors ranging from its traditional understanding, namely, paintings, sculptures, and the like, all the way to music and other things that are conducive to being constructed or performed in a creative, original, and artistic manner. This definition, of course, includes practices performed by means of both hobbies (e.g. gardening) and work (e.g. landscaper).

If you begin to read some of the standard works on the relationship between art and the Christian, especially some of the newer ones, you won’t have to read too far before you come across the referencing of Exodus 28:2. In it, God tells Moses, “And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and beauty.” I remember when I first came to know this verse; I thought I had found the sledge-hammer text for God’s unapologetic endorsement of art. Recently, when given the chance to write an exegetical paper for my Hebrew class, I immediately chose this passage to investigate so that I could have an excuse to evaluate whether or not Ex 28:2 was being used improperly as a proof-text or if the proponents of art were justified in laying claim to it. In a few short posts, I want to set forth some of the things that I learned in looking closely at this text with regard to the place and purpose of art and the believer’s role in supporting it. In addition, I want to shed more light on Ex 28:2 and its biblical-theological context, which is actually quite overwhelming. My intention is to primarily interact with the biblical text and not necessarily with all of the many Christian books that speak on this issue. I’m still fairly “under-read” in this area and would not like to lead you all into thinking otherwise.

Though this topic may seem somewhat insignificant in the grand scope of things, its place in Exodus and the Tabernacle narrative is very important and essential to God’s plan to dwell among his people; and therefore, how we understand God’s mandate for Aaron’s garments to be made “for glory and beauty” has a profound effect on how we view many things in relation to God such as creation, worship, mankind, and what man himself “creates.”

Click here to view my paper on Exodus 28:2-3. It mainly interacts with the Hebrew and syntactical matters. Only towards the end do I delve into some of the theological themes, but it is very brief and just gives a taste of what is capable of being mined in this passage.


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