Biblical Gardens and the Sensuality of Religious Pedagogy

James S. Bielo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This article explores how the phenomenon of biblical gardens joins three bodies of scholarship: the social life of scriptures, the study of religion’s media turn, and religious pedagogy. As a kind of religious attraction, the biblical garden is both devotional and pedagogical, with historic roots in nineteenth-century projects to connect botanical science with biblical literacy. I argue that the pedagogy of biblical gardens is anchored by an ideology of sensual indexicality and a strategy of metonymic immersion, which is differentiated from themed immersion. Analyses are drawn from observational and textual data, as well as comparative data from other forms of Holy Land replication, primarily in the USA. Ultimately, I argue that biblical gardens resist a modern ideology that elevates visual experience atop a sensory hierarchy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-54
Number of pages25
JournalMaterial Religion
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2018


  • garden
  • immersion
  • pedagogy
  • scriptures
  • senses
  • space and place

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Religious studies


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