The Tell-Tale Iconic Book


  • M. Patrick Graham Emory University



icon, Bible, book, woodcut, sixteenth century


This study draws on the corpus of images from sixteenth-century publications available in the Digital Image Archive to explore how books are used in printed images related to biblical interpretation. The investigation finds that images of books are used to indicate: (1) authorship of biblical works; (2) defend the orthodoxy of later writers; (3) to affirm the learning, piety, and social standing of certain writers, saints, and other figures from antiquity; (4) to contend that the message and ministries of certain biblical figures were based on Scripture; and (5) to link antiquity with the Early Modern period.


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Brown, Karin Brinkman. 1996. “Dietenberger, Johann.” In The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, 1: 484–485. New York: Oxford University Press.

Cochlaeus, Johannes. 1529. Septiceps Lutherus. Leipzig: Valentin Schumann.

Cole, Richard G. 1984. “Reformation Printers: Unsung Heroes.” The Sixteenth Century Journal 15: 337–339.

Cross, F. L. and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds. 2005. “Gregory I., St.” In The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed., rev., 710–711. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Harthan, John P. 1981. The History of the Illustrated Book: The Western Tradition. New York: Thames and Hudson.

Hendrix, Scott. 2004. Recultivating the Vineyard. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox.

Herbermann, Charles George and Edward A. Pace, eds. 1913. “The Blessed Virgin Mary.” In Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Encyclopedia Press. (accessed 7 February 2011).

Hieronymus, Frank. 1984. Basler Buchillustration 1500-1545. Universitätsbibliothek Basel, 31. Oberrheinische Buchillustration, 2. Basel: Universitätsbibliothek.

Hollstein, F. W. H. n.d. German Engravings, Etchings and Woodcuts: 1400–1700, vol. 6. Amsterdam: Menno Hertzberger.

———. 1988. German Engravings, Etchings and Woodcuts: 1400–1700, edited by Tilman Falk and compiled by Robert Zijlma, vols. 14–14A. Roosendaal: Koninklijke Van Poll.

Hornik, Heidi J. 2003. The Infancy Narrative in Italian Renaissance Painting, vol. 1 of Illuminating Luke, 3 volumes. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International.

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Marty, Martin. 2004. Martin Luther. Penguin Life. New York: Penguin.

Melanchthon, Philipp. 1528. Underricht Philip Melanchthon Wider die here der Wiederteuffer. Hagenau: Johann Setzer.

Melion, Walter S. 2009. “Bible Illustration in the Sixteenth-Century Low Countries.” In Scripture for the Eyes: Bible Illustration in Netherlandish Prints of the Sixteenth Century, edited by James Clifton and Walter S. Melion, 14–106. New York: Museum of Biblical Art.

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Raimundi, Giovanni Battista, ed. 1591. Evangelium sanctum Domini Nostri Iesu Christi conscriptum a quatuor Evangelistis sanctis id est, Matthaeo, Marco, Luca, et Iohanne. Rome: Typographia Medicea.

Schöner, Petra. 2006. “Visual Representations of Jews and Judaism in Sixteenth-Century Germany.“ In Jews, Judaism, and the Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Germany, Studies in Central European Histories 37, edited by Dean Phillip Bell and Stephen G. Burnett, 357–391. Leiden: Brill.

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Wedewer, Hermann. 1988. Johannes Dietenberger, 1475–1537: Sein Leben und Wirken. Freiburg im Breisgau: Herdersch Verlagshandlung. First printed, Nieuwkoop: B. de Graaf, 1967.

Wendland, Henning. 1984. Signete: Deutsche Drucker- und Verlegerzeichen, 1457–1600. Hannover: Schlüterschen Verlagsanstalt.



How to Cite

Graham, M. P. (2012). The Tell-Tale Iconic Book. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 6(1-3), 117–141.