Thursday, August 27, 2009

Christ Healing the Paralytic

Title: Christ Healing the Paralytic
Artist: Unknown
Medium: Mural
Size: 60 x 90 cm
Date: c. 235
Location: Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut.

As recorded in Matthew 9:1-8, after traveling, Jesus returned to his own town. Upon his return some men came to him with a paralytic man lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven." At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!", but knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." And the man got up and went home.

On the right of this mural, the paralytic is on his bed. To the top center is the earliest image of Jesus found anywhere, Christ making his pronouncement to “Take up your bed and walk.” On the left, the man takes his bed, and walks away. The figure of Jesus in this mural appears depicted as a type of the Teacher. He wears a tunic and pallium and sandals on his feet, he has close-cropped hair, and his face is that of a youthful, distinguished intellectual.

Dura Europos ("Fort Europos") is a ruined Hellenistic-Roman walled city built on cliff 90 meters above the banks of the Euphrates River. It is located near the village of Salhiyé, in today's Syria. Destroyed by war and abandoned in the 3rd century AD, it lay hidden until its rediscovery in 1920. Excavations have revealed, among other important ruins, a synagogue and church that are the oldest that have been found anywhere, and are also remarkable in that they were built very close to each other at virtually the same time. The church was dismantled and re-constructed at Yale University in the early 1930s.

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