Gargoyles in the Old Testament

The BBC is reporting that “new gargoyles were being lifted into place at Gloucester Cathedral as part of a revamp of the building.” This is what the new release says:

Gargoyles from Notre Dame Cathedral

New gargoyles were being lifted into place at Gloucester Cathedral as part of a revamp of the building.

The three sculptures are part of an ongoing restoration project of the 800-year-old cathedral, which is costing an estimated £750,000.

They have been carved by the cathedral’s own team of stonemasons to replace the original 600-year-old gargoyles on the south aisle.

The figures depict characters from the Old Testament’s Book of Psalms.
The project to replace the original 13 gargoyles was due to be completed in about three or four years’ time, said a cathedral spokesman.

The gargoyles put in place in Tuesday depicted characters from Psalm 148, he added.

According to the news report, “the gargoyles put in place in Tuesday depicted characters from Psalm 148.”

I had forgotten about the gargoyles of the Old Testament, those grotesque figures generally used as ornaments in pagan temples and in churches whose function was to scare off evil spirits and protect holy places.

So, I reread Psalm 148, the biblical text used to depict those gargoyles. And sure enough, just as I suspected, the gargoyles of Psalm 148 are just the creation of a very fertile imagination.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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