Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Aniconic Stoics; the Beard

I finished The Cambridge History of Christianity: Origins to Constantine.  I have two items.

1.  On page 569, Robin Jensen states:

"Paul had been arguing in the synagogue with devout Jews and addressed his speech on the Areopagus to Epicurean and Stoic philosophers.  In contrast to traditional Roman polytheists, such groups may have been well disposed to the proclamation of a transcendent, singular and invisible god, who had neither image nor shrine.  The Stoics, for example, opposed the making of divine images, following the teachings of their founder Zeno, who was known to their opposition to temples and statues."

This makes me wonder why Paul did not get a better reception in Acts 17.  It was probably because his audience had issues with the notion of the resurrection of the dead.

2.  On pages 579-580, Jensen talks about depictions of Jesus with and without a beard.  According to Jensen, early depictions of Jesus presented him as a "beautiful and beardless youth" who healed people and performed wonders.  He looked like Apollo or savior-gods such as Dionysos, Hermes, or Orpheus.  When Jesus is depicted as a teacher or philosopher, he is often beardless, but there are rare occasions when he has a beard.  In the late fourth century, Jesus has a beard and resembles Jupiter and Neptune.  The focus at that time is on Jesus as judge and lawgiver, as well as his passion and resurrection.

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