Rooney On Images Of Christ

Images Of Jesus Come In All Shapes And Sizes

Christmas is always December 25th but Easter is a moveable feast. Depending on the moon, it can come as early as March 22 and as late as April 25th.

Easter is the day Christians believe that Jesus Christ came back to life, after dying a terrible death three days earlier, hanging from a wooden cross with nails through his feet, hands and side.

Each artist had his own idea of what Christ's wooden cross looked like. They came in all sizes, all shapes. Christ was even painted carrying his own cross.

Artists have speculated on the exact manner in which Christ's body was so cruelly attached and hung from it.

Generations of Christians have yearned to know what Christ really looked like but there were no cameras and no artist who lived while Christ lived, painted his likeness. There is no description of Christ in the Bible.

Some people even believe that a piece of cloth, called the Shroud of Turin, is the image of Christ taken, like a fingerprint, from the sheet they think he was wrapped in after his death.

The number and variety of artists who portrayed him is uncountable. Turkish artists in Byzantium portrayed Christ's likeness in ceramic tile.

Early artists often showed him as an infant or a small boy with his mother although nothing is really known of him for the first thirty of his 33 years.


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Salvador Dali's "Last Supper"

As the Christian movement spread, artists around the world painted the Jesus they imagined. To the Christians of the Far East he was Asian. To the Indians, Indian. To African Christians, Jesus was black. Salvador Dali painted a modern-looking Christ at the Last Supper in 1962.

There are as many likenesses of Christ as there are painters. And who is to say otherwise if this is how they see him in their minds' eye.

Belief is a quality of its own, independent of the idea in which we believe. We like to believe. Carl Sandburg said it for our time: "The Christ head, the Christ face, what man will ever paint, chisel or carve it? And how," the poet asked "can you crowd all the tragic and comic faces of mankind into one face?"

It is apparent this Easter day, that Jesus Christ, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.


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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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