Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Visualizing Jesus' Descent

I just noticed that I have made several posts on my blog about Jesus' descent into hell, despite the fact that this topic is relatively obscure. In the process, I have found some pretty cool artwork depicting this descent that I have used to illustrate my posts. I would like to share them here:

Pretty cool, huh? Click on each image for a larger version of it. I wish I was an art major so that I knew better how to interpret the various actions and objects that appear in these paintings. A few things I notice are:
  1. The Cross bridges the gap between heaven and Hades. This is because it is by the work of the Cross that the early Fathers are freed.
  2. The righteous souls appear in a tomb because, like Hades, a tomb is the "abode of the dead."
  3. In two of the paintings Jesus stands on the devil because, in conquering Hades, Jesus, "the Author of life" destroyed "him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage" (Heb 2:14-15; cf. Acts 3:15).
If anyone has more insight to that effect, please leave a comment.

If you would like to learn more about Jesus' descent into hell, go here. You can also see the following blog posts: Pax Christi,


Rosemary said...

In the two Eastern Icons on the left Christ stands on two cross boards. This signifies Christ trampling the grave, or the opening the the tomb to release all the souls waiting to go to heaven and eternal life. In the East we sing "by death he trampled death, and to those in the grave he granted life." In the Incarnation, Christ lifts up man's nature. In His death on the Cross and the Resurrection, Christ ends death. This is what the Icon depicts.

jmjtina said...

Thanks nick for the joost invite! =)

japhy said...

The "Harrowing of Hell". I love the icons you've posted. There needs to be more of this kind of orthodox iconography influence on our modern Christological artwork (if you ask me).

phatcatholic said...

I agree!

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