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Forests of Symbols: Christian Initiation and the Bible (L’Initiation chrétienne et la Bible. Des Forêts de symboles)



Original Language: French | 250 pp. | 2001

2 Seas Represents: World Translation Rights.

Rights Sold: Spanish (Cristiandad), Italian (San Paolo), Ukrainian (Patriarchal Catechetical Commission).

In a time when there were neither catechisms nor faculties of theology, how were believers taught? The reading and explanation of the Bible was everything. The whole Scriptures, or almost all of them, were likely read for their symbolic meaning endowed with a spiritual message. From this, a lavish literature was born, where imagination and poetry are always present. We can, in the forests of symbol, define special themes: they were shown on graves, where it was the custom to evoke what had guided the existence of the deceased and placed his hopes in another life. The preference goes to the most vivid stories of the Old Testament: Jonas, Daniel in the lion pit, Noah in his ark, Moses striking the rock. The concrete pedagogy of the Ancients helps to penetrate quickly into the heart of the Christian message. It will also allow our contemporaries to understand the fundamental images that never stopped feeding the art and literature of the Western world.


“From Adam and Eve to the Divine Shepherd, without forgetting Noah and Abraham, Martine Dulæy renders with a clarity and exemplary precision this Christian teaching of the first centuries which associated text and image with a consummate didactic sense. Her book, first published in paperback, is a model of mastered erudition and infectious passion.” (Le Monde de la Bible – January 2002)

“In a fine historical essay, Martine Dulæy goes back over the earliest times of Christian initiation, drawing on the Bible to reach the greatest number of readers.” (La Croix – January 2002)