Author: Brigitte KAHL, Professor of New Testament Union Theological Seminary
One of the core icons in the Western imagination of the divine was the Great Altar of Pergamon, today the centerpiece of the Pergamon-Museum in Berlin, Germany. What is the visual grammar employed by this spectacular monument as it constructs a normative image of the god(s) and of law, order and civilization? Why could it provide an almost ideal matrix for visualizations of the Roman emperor as god? How were its spatial, ritual, aesthetic, and mythological codes de-coded and re-coded in the transition from Hellenistic ruler cult to Roman imperial religion? In contrast, what happens to this arch-image of Western civilization and political religion as John the Seer irreverently scrutinizes it with the critical eyes of apocalyptic counter-vision?
Great Altar at Pergamon; gigantomachy; ruler cult; Book of Revelation; counter-vision
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