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biblestudy: Color In Scripture

Seeing Color Through A Different Perspective
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Given 23-Aug-14; Sermon #BS-082314; 78 minutes

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Richard Ritenbaugh, observing that Americans seem to have an obsession for differentiating colors and hues, as seen in automobile colors and household paints, asserts that color can have a powerful effect on people's moods and emotions. The ancient Hebrews perceived color differently than we do today, not making an exact science of the color spectrum, but assigning symbolic significance or meaning to a number of different colors as they associate with concrete objects. To us today, color is a thing or quality attached to something, but the Hebrews did not ruminate about color as a quality or attribute, but instead an integral part of the object they were looking at, interconnected with the object of perception. Color was an integral part of the object, not an aesthetic quality on its own. The Old Testament has relatively few color associations—red (adam), green (yaraq), and white (laban). In the Song of Songs, the color descriptions are rendered according to concrete objects, animals, and things. The Greeks, on the other hand, had more of an abstract mindset, thinking in terms of degrees of brightness and darkness—brighter hues and darker hues. White is perhaps the easiest color to assign symbolic significance, such as "white as snow," "white throne," "white horse," and "white linen garments" signifying purity and cleanliness, suggesting a blessed state and absolute righteousness. The color black in biblical context is associated with a distressed and grieved mental state, bitterness, and mourning. In Revelation 6, the third seal (black horse) is the color of famine and judgment. The color red in biblical context refers to the hue of the soil or clay from which God created Adam. Edom also refers to a red hue. The crimson or scarlet hue symbolizes the gravity of our sins as contrasted to righteousness. Vermillion was




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