Thursday, December 02, 2004

To Whet the Appetite

I just received my new Crossan and Reed book (see post below), and I'm making my way through it. Here's an excerpt from the Preface that I thought was interesting:

In 1906 a small cave was discovered cut into the rock on the northern slope of Bulbul Dag, high adove the ruins of ancient Ephesus, just off the mid-Aegean coast of Turkey. To the right of the entrance and beneath layers of plaster, Karl Herold, of the Austrian Archaeological Institute, uncovered two sixth-century images of St. Thecla and St. Paul.

They are both the same height and are therefore iconographically of equal importance. They both have their right hands raised in teaching gesture and are therefore iconographically of equal authority. But although the eyes and upraised hand of Paul are untouched, some later person scratched out the eyes and erased the upraised hand of Thecla. If the eyes of both images had been disfigured, it would be simply another example of iconoclastic antagonism, since that was believed to negate the spiritual power of an icon.... But here only Thecla's eyes and her authoritative hand are destroyed. Original imagery and defaced imagery represent a fundamental clash of theology. An earlier image in which Thecla and Paul were equally authoritative apostolic figures has been replaced by one in which the male is apostolic and authoritative and the female is blinded and silenced....

We take that original assertion of equality and counterassertion of inequality as encapsulating visually the central claim of this book for Christianity itself.


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