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The Baptism of Christ: 6, The Father

In this leisurely exploration of the image of the baptism of Christ, we finally turn to a description of the three persons of the Trinity. They are linked in the center of the image by the vertical beam of light, running down from the Father

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The Baptism of Christ: 5. Light

The feast of Christ’s baptism is called “the Feast of Light,” linking baptism with illumination in a tradition too ancient to trace. The apocryphal literature surrounding the New Testament is full of Jordan light imagery. The Gospel of the Ebionites reports that simultaneous with the

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The Baptism of Christ: 4. Angels and People

Angels are not mentioned in the scriptural account of the baptism, but they are almost always presented in the iconography. Perhaps they are included because the baptism is read together with the temptation in the wilderness, which followed it immediately, and after which the gospels

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The Baptism of Christ: 3. The Jordan River

The landscape in which the baptism of Christ is ususally portrayed is a rocky wilderness, with craggy mountain peaks in the background and cliff-like stony river banks on either side of the Jordan. While Jesus stands in the middle of the river itself, John is

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The Baptism of Christ: 2. John the Baptist

Pictures of the baptism of Christ are visually busy, filled with characters and details. Since it’s a baptism, it makes sense to start with a close look at John the Baptist. John is an important New Testament character, and Christian artists have assigned him his

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The Baptism of Christ: 1. The Earliest Images

The baptism of Christ is among the earliest New Testament scenes selected for depiction in Christian art. Günter Ristow mentions this in Die Taufe Christi (Recklinghausen: Verlag Aurel Bongers, 1965, 12). It is found in the catacombs, on early christian sarcophagi, and in the very

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Albrecht Dürer, Northern Renaissance Man

Albrecht Dürer (born 1471, died on this day, April 6, in 1528) was widely hailed as the greatest artist of his generation in the northern Renaissance. All kinds of voluptuous shenanigans were going on in the wonderful world of the southern Renaissance, but if you

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Top Five Christian Comic Books

I sometimes promote myself as the “world’s greatest systematic theologian cartoonist,” because it’s a pretty safe boast. If I ever meet another professional theologian who’s also a published cartoonist, I’ll have to adjust my bragging to something like “one of the two greatest.” But while

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The Space of a Sonnet

Nuns fret not at their Convent’s narrow room; And Hermits are contented with their Cells; And Students with their pensive Citadels: Maids at the Wheel, the Weaver at his Loom, Sit blithe and happy; Bees that soar for bloom, High as the highest Peak of

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Edward Knippers, Theologizing in Paint

The folks over at Theology Forum are hosting a blog exhibition this week on the work of Edward Knippers, an important American painter. On Monday they posted several pictures along with a statement by the artist. Not all artists are able to write about their

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The Communion of the Apostles

Joos van Wassenhove (a.k.a. Justus of Ghent) was a Renaissance Netherlandish painter who spent the greater part of his career in Italy. He became a member of the Antwerp Guild in 1460, but by 1464 had moved to Ghent. Sometime after 1468 he went to

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Beautiful Isle of Somewhere

Do you know the hymn, “Beautiful Isle of Somewhere?” Written by Jes­sie B. Pounds in 1897, it was apparently a very popular hymn for funeral services in the early twentieth century. It was sung at President William McKinley’s funeral, for instance. Google it along with