Outline of a 6th C. Portrait of Jesus at Shivta with Short Hair and No Beard

jesus

jesus1.5Jesus south church shivta

From an article here in Haaretz about an archaeological finding in Shivta, in the Negev desert in Israel. The Jesus who emerges off the wall of the church in this high-resolution photograph is a sixth-century portrait of Jesus with short hair. It’s a strange look, and not simply because it’s Jesus without the long hair. There’s something else about the emergent gaze of the iconic figure situated in a church from a long time ago in the desert. —After an afternoon with this post up and with friends having fun with it on FB, I think I finally figured out why I am so drawn to the image. In part is its age and the advanced state of its decomposition, and then, as if superimposed on that decayed material substrate, the rough outline of the iconic figure as it appears in the touched up high-resolution photograph. In other words, what I like is not the portrait as much as the reconstructed photographic outline of the portrait, as well as the expressive features carried by the face.

 

Jesus1jesus3Jesus north church shivta

 

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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