Monday, January 23, 2006

What can you tell me?

It's a quiz! What can you tell me about this image? Why have I posted it? Why is it relevant? What should we see here?

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's heresy and idolatry

Pastor Tim Theule said...

Anyone else have any thoughts?

Suzette Lyons said...

I missed yesterday's sermon as Luke was sick. But I looked up the verse you had listed on the study guide.

Matthew 17:2-3 (2)He was transformed in front of them, and His face shone like the sun. Even His clothes became as white as the light. (3)Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.

Matthew 17:5-6 (5)While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the coulud said:

"This is My beloved Son.
I take delight in Him.
Listen to Him!"

(6)When the disciples heard it, they fell face down and were terrified.

Do I win a prize? Just kidding.

Brian Wong said...

Generally, I'd agree with Suzette, the only issue I have with that conclusion is that the first verse of the chapter explicitly states that Peter, James, and John were there. It makes no mention of any of the other disciples. It is also explicit that they were there "by themselves". So that means that either the artist is wrong, or the author of Matthew is wrong.

It seems funny to me that the artist would have missed such a critical detail. Not to mention that there are more than 9 other people pictured in the painting.

Maybe Anonymous is right. It's just heresy and idolatry.

Pastor Tim Theule said...

Come on! There's got to be some art history folks out there somewhere? Suzette is on the right track, but there is much, much more going on here. . .
Think!

Kevin Heldt said...

Calling us out -- Now, Tim, I'd say that IS getting into the fray -- very nice! :)

I'm just a left-brained math guy but it seems clear to me that the picture is not intending to be a literal portrait of what took place. The top seems literal enough -- Jesus flanked by Moses and Elijah and Peter, James and John awestruck on the ground by His glory. The folks in the foreground seem to be in earnest discussion (lots of gesturing and emotion on their faces). So my guess is that it is portraying what you have set forth as kind of the "great debate" of Matthew: namely, who is Jesus? We have all these people bickering about it while the Father Himself is clearly showing forth the answer, complete with the agreement of the Law and the Prophets. Experiencing that glory, for the disciples, leaves no room for bickering but only reverent, face-down-on-the-ground fear. What I can't figure is if there is added significance to the two figures on the far left (about a third of the way down). Maybe those symbolize the rest of Jesus' close disciples and followers who didn't have the direct experience of Jesus' transfigured glory but are coming to understand more and more who Jesus really is and are therefore no longer "bickering" either.

Or maybe they're just arguing about which wiseguy doubleparked...

Kevin Heldt said...

So after conversing with my most astute wife, she noticed some other things though we differ on what they mean. She noticed the guy in the foreground on the left has a big book -- presumably the Scriptures. Then there is the young dude on the right being propped up by the man in green who some seem to be pointing at and is perhaps a source of the disagreement too. I thought maybe that guy symbolizes the self or something and so some are trying to deny the need for Jesus (admittedly a stretch). Brianna thought that maybe that guy is also a depiction of Jesus, whose identity they are fighting over, and that the top and bottom of the painting are separate. He does seem to figure prominently into the scene. So Tim, there better be some answers forthcoming after hurting my brain on this! :)

Jeannett Gibson said...

I think Kevin is closer than the rest, but I'd like to add, that the woman in pink and blue in the center, and kind of highlighted is Mary...I also wonder if the small boy is meant to be Jesus as a child...everyone pointing to him and looking at him suspiciously as if saying "Is this really the carpenter's son?" Then there is the guy at the very bottom, who is referencing a book (the Bible?) and "double checking" scripture to be sure that this boy really is the Messiah...
Also, I wonder if the painting has a second reference to God's appearance on Mount Sinai where God told the people (other than Moses and Aaron) to wait at the bottom of the mountain, and not to come up or they would die from his overwhelming glory. (Exodus 19)

Just my two cents. I could be way off. I should really get back to work...something tells me that my government office would not be pleased that I was (a) surfing the net and (b) blogging about a religious matter on company time. HA!

Jeannett Gibson said...

Wow, Kevin must have been typing at the same time as I was...that second post came in afterwards!

Jeannett Gibson said...

ok...three posts in one day is excessive, but I can't quit thinking about it...my last one, promise!

If I'm on the right track about the Mt. Sinai part, maybe the reason it's just a small hill (rather than a mountain) is because Jesus is more accessible (than God Himself), that if you believe in Him, that you can attain a relationship with Him...maybe then explaining how the two guys off to the side are getting closer, and ultimately, fulfilling God's plan with His Son.

Or, it could just be heresy and I'm reading WAAAYYY too much into it!

Andy Gibson said...

Wow. And you guys tell me I'm hardcore!

When do we get an answer, Tim?

Pastor Tim Theule said...

Ok, so we've heard from the "every dayers." Now lets wait for the "every few dayers" and the "once a weekers."

No one recognizes this picture?

Kevin Heldt said...

We'll be patient but don't go and get yourself a reputation of putting off your faithful blog readers. If I recall, you still owe us some further thoughts on the "male only leadership" topic from October and a couple titles of your favorite books of '05. I've heard some rumblings so I know I'm not the only one who remembers. :)

Missy Grant said...

Ok...I held off because I was not at church on Sunday and I haven't had time to listen to your sermon yet. I do know the picture - it is The Transfiguration by Raphael. It is considered one of his last works and if I remember (it has been a few years since college) it combines biblical stories. I remember this picture because I think (don't quote me on this) Raphael was an aetheist. Is that correct....? I hate to put out misinformation. Sorry - I can't speak to the relevancy of your sermon and the pic. Hopefully I can put it together by the end of the week.

Brian Wong said...

Kevin makes a good point. We can be patient, but I think you owe your blogging faithful some follow-up responses. I never fulfilled my end of the bargain in the male-only leadership arena, so I can't honestly request a response about that. But the books of 2005 does deserve to be addressed.

And please don't leave us hanging on this painting :-)

Pastor Tim Theule said...

Good job, Missy! Art Appreciation.
So now we know who painted it and what its called. Raphael was an athiest, but stumbles on to something truthful here. A great example of "common grace" in my opinion.

So what does Raphael do here?

We'll talk about it on Sunday. I promise. Is that soon enough.

Favorite books of 2005, hmmmm?

Matt Gould said...

According to my high school research skills Raphael's Transfiguration combines both Christ's transfiguration and the healing of the demon possessed boy. The two stories are connected by two apostles depicted in the painting that are reaching out to one another. The painting shows how only Christ can heal the pains of life on earth. And although I wasn't in Church last Sunday I would venture to guess that that could be a bit of the relevancy, that without Christ, we cannot truly know peace.

P.S. Yay for classical education!

Pastor Tim Theule said...

Very nice, Matt! I'm impressed. Matt is a high school senior. Did you do the research, Matt, or were you exposed to Raphael in class?

Tim Weaver said...

I feel like I'm standing on quite a few shoulders who already did the hard work.

With that knowledge, here is what I see. In the crowd you have one (perhaps 2) people pointing to Christ and others oblivious to the one who should be the focus. They are taken up with the demon-possessed boy. While the healing is a great thing, the healing isn't the point. It should point us to Christ. The two on the far left 'get it' and are looking at the Lord. James, John, and Peter are too close to not get it.

thereishope said...

The painting combines a portrayal of the transfiguration and a scene depicting the apostles trying unsuccessfully to expel a demon from a possessed child. It seems to be a symbolic representation of divine grace.

Matt Gould said...

I did this research on my own, I was interested because I had studied Raphael a little in sixth grade. Fun stuff, wish I could have taken AP Art History, anyway... Im really looking forward to hearing what you have to say on Sunday!

Anonymous said...

Dogs...I wished I got on in this blog conversation.

Saw that painting immediately and recognized it - of course it was in my Art History class.
It's all now a moot point, but what insight into the preaching!

I was struck by the irony of what Tim pointed out - Christ was going to give himself wholly and a bunch of folks were haggling over a shekel. Oh, how many times we miss that?

It's like what William Wallace said, "You're fighting for the scraps and missing your God-given right." CS Lewis was right: it's not our appetites are wrong, it's not strong enough.

SMACKED right on the head Tim - we need to see more of Christ and his Glory!

Gordon