Who Are Artists? What Does the Bible Say?
The best biblical TERM for what we today label an “artist” is … Craftsman
Let me expand on this a bit more in the following way:
The best biblical term in the Bible for what we today call Artists is the word craftsmen (Hebrew = machashabah, machashebeth). The term is a wisdom word, and literally means a person unusually wise at imaginative design. Actually in the Old Testament alone there are at least nineteen (19) artistic CRAFTS mentioned, four (4) words (really word-areas) that label Specialist creative types—those we today label as artists, two (2) words (verbs) that describe specialized artistic activityfour (4) words (adjectives) that describe creative types as specialized.
To the Hebrew-speaking mindset in 1500 BC, all of these terms seem to hold the basic idea that the people we these days call ‘artists’ are people endowed by God to be unusually wise and able in creative, imaginative human expression.
Bigger Labels for Artist
Sometimes I also label these people in general . . .
-human expression specialists, or
-imaginative expression specialists
and when specifically talking about creative Christian specialists…
-creative-Kingdom servants, or
Artists are “Specialized” but not “Special”
Now note three particulars here related to why we’re using the term “specialists.”
First, artistic specialists are ‘specialized’ in that they have God-given capacities related to imaginative expression that are clearly larger and greater than those the “normal” person possess. But . . .
Second, so-called “artists” are not essentially more valuable or better people in God’s economy, than people gifted by God in other ways. This distinction is sometimes overlooked, but very important.
Many often automatically embrace the popular but incorrect (and unbiblical, and more modern) notion that ‘artists’ are the creative elites, and everyone else is NOT creative at all. No. Nothing could be further from reality—which leads us to a third consideration.
Third, though artistic specialists are unusually creative in one way or another, ALL people are creative (every person has the capacity to imagine—they are imaginative) by virtue of being made in God’s image. The capacity to imagine is central to being human, and a wonder-filled reality of God’s design OF human nature.
Animals do not possess the capacity to imagine. Rather, animals have instinct—which is wonderful, beautiful and amazing. But still instinct is a lower and far more limited ‘capacity’ than the capacity humans possess of imagination.
By nature, each person exercises great creativity all throughout every day!! This fact must always be underscored.
So therefore, it should be clearly noted that “artists”—those people possessing “unusual wisdom and ability in some area of imaginative design and expression”—certainly are “specialized.”
They do possess extra-ordinary capacities and abilities of certain kinds of creative expression; but they are NOT essentially more “special” than any other ‘kind’ of human God has created and capacitied in other ways.