The Language of Colour in the Bible: From Word to Image


The study of the language of colour has generated great attention since the 19th century in several fields, especially philology and art; exploring the great civilizations considered the bedrock of Europe: Greece and Rome. Surprisingly the Bible, the other pillar on which European culture is founded, has been left on the sidelines of this research, creating a primordial void. This research project aims to bridge this gap and provide a more complete picture of the language of colour in a book that has inspired both literary and artistic works: the Bible. An interdisciplinary study of the biblical text in its original languages can certainly shed new light on the interpretation of the image and vice versa. The objectives pursued in the field of philology are to determine the chromatic lexicon of the biblical text, the sensory perception it reflects and the symbolic dimension from which it emanates. In this sense, we believe that the Apocryphal literature and the early Christian literature can shed light on the meaning of colour in the biblical texts both with regard to sensorial perception and symbolism. Concerning the field of artistic representations which have been inspired by the Bible, the objective of the research is to study how the artist uses chromatic language to reflect the biblical scenes, as well as analysing how the biblical language is used and reinterpreted. The period chosen to be studied is that covering the 10th-12th centuries.


Colour, Bible, Symbol, Medieval Minitures, Medieval Bibles 


Lourdes García Ureña
Universidad CEU San Pablo

Emanuela Valeriani
Université de Genève 

Marta Crispi Cantón
Universitat Internacional de Cataluny

Steering Committee

Mónica Durán
University of Granada

Member Area

Wuppertal 2021 Call for Papers

Red: Colour, Symbol, Emotion

Nowadays, the colour red is considered one of the basic colour terms of modern languages. The digital era allows the creation and nuancing of the various hues and shades it possesses. Its strength is such that today it forms part of logos, brands, announcements, road signs, etc. However, the expressive strength of the colour red is also found in antiquity. Curiously the Bible, which is characterized by its sober use of the language of colour, utilizes this colour through both direct (colour terms) and indirect (terms that themselves denote colour such as blood or fire) designations.

Their use not only imbues the text with colour but conveys various symbolic connotations. This happens both in the written text and in the different pictorial representations of the Bible.

As is well known, the Bible does not arise in a culture enclosed within itself. For this reason, it is relevant to study the colour red as it was used and interpreted in antiquity and in the subsequent centuries where we find the history of its reception.

For the 2021 conference, we are also welcoming papers which study:

  1. Colour terms related with the colour red in Antiquity (Hebrew, Hittite, Greek, Latin) 

  2. Metaphor and Symbolism of the colour red in the written text or in the artistic representations

  3. Pigments and dyes used to elaborate the different hues of red

  4. Restoration of artistic works and restitution of colours in religious painting

Please contact the chairs for detail: