LONDON, UK.- How do we interpret a painting that concerns a biblical text? What are the critical issues entailed in seeing such a painting, with its unique blend of the visual and the textual? These are now urgent questions among art historians, biblical critics and artists. In Visuality and Biblical Text: Interpreting Velázquez Christ with Martha and Mary as a Test Case, the artist Jane Boyd and biblical critic Philip Esler provide an entirely fresh set of answers. By uniquely pooling their respective areas of expertise, Boyd and Esler develop in relation to this challenging work a new methodology that is readily applicable to other paintings on biblical themes. The core of their approach is to fix upon the three contexts relevant to interpretation, that of the ancient biblical text, the artists environment (in this case, early seventeenth century Seville) and todays viewer. This focus brings out persistent if varying social patterns linking gender and space with honour and shame. They integrate with this a close consideration of compositional development and painting processes demonstrated by the artist in this work. Boyd and Esler situate Velázquez Christ with Martha and Mary in relation to other major paintings concerning Christs visit to Martha and Mary from the 11th century onward, to Renaissance understandings of optics and perspective, and to the Tridentine Decree on sacred imagery. They also make an entirely new proposal for how Velázquez adapted the composition of his studio in order to make this painting. Their solution explains both the enigmatic fact that Jesus is raising his left hand in breach of Spanish custom and the hauntingly disconsolate expression on the face of the young woman in the foreground.