Latest Issue

A sense of awe

Portrayals of the Prophet underestimate his grandeur, but they are not "banned"

By Tim Winter   March 2006

One of Marc Chagall’s bitterest memories was of an encounter with a devout great-uncle. On learning that there was an image-maker in the family, the old man had refused to shake his hand. To secular sensibilities this seems bizarre, another proof of the irrational bloody-mindedness of religion; yet in Jewish terms, the event signals an interesting clash of humanisms. Neither Chagall nor his elderly relative were fanatics. They were both concerned to honour the mystery of the human face, but in utterly irreconcilable ways.

The second commandment is clear enough. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect