chapter  5
54 Pages

Embedding texts into images

BySean V. Leatherbury

This chapter turns from inscriptions that perform ekphraseis on the interiors in which they are placed to texts paired more specifically with images. Starting with the many inscriptions of the famous “Madaba Map,” from a sixth-century church in Jordan, the chapter takes a broad view of these inscriptions, often called “titles” (tituli), including those that survive only in the textual tradition, as well as texts that appear within images (including on images of scrolls and books). Analyzing the tituli paired with narrative images makes clear the role of these texts to vivify static images and emphasize parts of scenes. Working in combination with the images, tituli nuanced visual representations and highlighted the active presences of the sacred figures depicted, often working to collapse contemporary and biblical time and place within the interior of the church or synagogue.