Rembrandt's Faith: Church and Temple in the Dutch Golden Age

Hardcover (Print)


Covering all the media Rembrandt worked in throughout his career, Rembrandt’s Faith is the only art-historical study to address the full breadth of the artist’s religious imagery. Rembrandt weighed in on important religious issues of his day and was a close student of the Bible, using traditional approaches based on Saint Paul to employ typology between the Old and New Testaments. He also shared the Dutch propensity to draw analogies between the biblical tales of the “chosen people” and Dutch society, including commentary on righteous leadership under God’s covenant. Rembrandt’s close reading of the Bible and biblical commentary by Calvin and other theologians was greatly abetted by the publication, in 1637, of the Dutch States Bible translation with notes. He also avidly studied seventeenth-century reconstructions of the Jerusalem Temple and frequently located his biblical narratives in re-creations of these spaces. Rembrandt’s Faith raises essential questions about the complex relationships among Rembrandt’s art, religion, and the theological debates of his time.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This is a wonderfully erudite and rich discussion of a fundamental aspect of Rembrandt’s life and art: his faith. Rembrandt’s Faith is an essential contribution to Rembrandt studies.”
—Amy Golahny, Historians of Netherlandish Art Newsletter

Rembrandt’s Faith is an important book. It is by far the most exhaustive study to date of a subject that is important not only in Rembrandt studies but also, because of Rembrandt’s towering status in the depiction of biblical subjects, for the study of religion in early modern culture.”
—Gary Schwartz, Author of Rembrandt’s Universe

“No one will be able to study any aspect of Rembrandt’s religious imagery, from paintings to drawings and especially etchings, without consulting Perlove and Silver’s volume in advance for suggestions and guidance: the encyclopedic exhaustiveness of the biblical and theological sources perused by the authors with regard to each composition constitutes a mother lode of primary information indispensable for further analysis.”
—Lorenzo Pericolo, Renaissance Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271034065
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2009
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 532
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Shelley Perlove is Professor of Art History at the University of Michigan, Dearborn.

Larry Silver is Farquhar Professor of Art History at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Table of Contents


List of Abbreviations

List of Illustrations


Introduction: Rembrandt and the Jerusalem Temple

1 A Religious Stew: Faith, Diversity, and Controversy in the Dutch Golden Age

2 The Old Testament and Apocrypha: Sinners, Patriarchs, Kings, Heroes, and Exiles

3 Christ’s Infancy and the Temple

4 Childhood and Ministry in the Temple: Councils, Pharisees, and Priests

5 The Temple and Early Church: Ministry, Passion, and Post-Resurrection

6 Rembrandt’s Late Works: Without Temple or Church

7 Conclusions: Wrestling with the Angel



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