A work that establishes the ancient Israelite "Tabernacle" as a seminal work of art. It brings together the seemingly divergent worlds of biblical symbolism and art history. While all acknowledge that Western art was often inspired by biblical story and poetry, the modern study of art presupposes that Western religious art originates only from Greco-Roman civilizations. This work proposes that a distinct and unique aesthetic enters world history with the Bible of the Jewish people, 'The Torah'. A new civilization was born based on "The Book of Exodus" and its detailed description of Israel's primal artwork, "The Tabernacle". A new aesthetic was necessary that would express Israel's unique concept of a singular, non-corporeal God and His divine teachings. The Israelite innovations made from borrowed Egyptian forms were for the purpose of avoiding image worship while expressing the Oneness and noncorporeality of Israel's God and His covenant with Israel. These two interconnected criteria comprise the essence of my thesis. The Israelite innovations emerge out of a dialectic between the necessity for beauty of expression and the limits of beauty as it enters the realm of idolatry.
A subtle and deep aesthetic understanding and a powerful imagination for expressive symbolism is revealed in this dialectic. These Israelite innovations and deviations insured monotheism's survival and laid the aesthetic foundation for its triumph. For the future, these decisions constituted an epic moment in the origins of liturgical art. The book is divided into the following major themes: origins and development of biblical monotheism's first work of art and the beginnings of a Judaic aesthetic based upon an ongoing dialectic between the demands of beauty and the avoidance of image worship; the symbolic significance of "The Tabernacle's" structures and ritual service and their influence on all the ritual, liturgical art, and architecture of Judaism. This includes "The Tabernacle", its internal structures, and their reconformation into the Temple of Solomon and the modern synagogue; and, the forms and concepts of "The Tabernacle and Temple" re-emerge the Old St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. In the eighth century C. E., a most unique re-creation of "The Tabernacle" emerges in the mosque, the central architectural structure of Islam.