Internationally Respected Art Historian Explores Ancient Jewish and Christian Manuscripts at SHU

News Story: February 1, 2010

Sacred Heart University welcomed Dr. Evelyn Cohen to the Schine Auditorium on February 3rd, to address “Art as Mirror of the Jewish-Christian Encounter.’’ An offering of the Human Journey Colloquia Series, the lecture is part of the Year of the Chapel, a series of special events running through 2010 to celebrate the University’s new Chapel of the Holy Spirit

Dr. Cohen displayed Jewish and Christian artwork from beautifully illustrated Bibles and prayer books. Calling on her many years of experience in the field, she explained how the illustrations reflected the belief systems and rituals of the two religions. Dr. Cohen explained the similarities and differences between the motifs found in Jewish and Christian art, and traced the lines of influence between them.  She noted, in particular, the heavy debt that Jewish art of the Medieval and Renaissance periods owed to the cultures in which it thrived. Dr. Cohen hoped that students would “come away with greater insight into life in the Middle Ages in general, in addition to the cultural exchange that took place between Jews and Christians.”

At a young age, Dr. Cohen enrolled in a bi-lingual Jewish school where she learned Hebrew and English.  She earned her Ph. D. in Italian Renaissance art from Columbia University (studying art history as an undergrad at Brooklyn College).  Even though she always loved art, Dr. Cohen discovered her passion for Hebrew illuminated manuscripts while at Brooklyn College.  She has traveled to libraries all over the world to conduct her research including those at St. Petersburg, Budapest, Holland, London, Germany and Paris.  Dr. Cohen was able to find important information close to Sacred Heart, at Yale University. 

This event was sponsored by the Center for Catholic Thought, Ethics, and Culture (CCTEC), in conjunction with the Human Journey Colloquia Series and the Center for Christian Jewish Understanding (CCJU).