fascinating article on the visual representation of Jesus in 16th century

Discussion in 'Politics and News' started by aidanjm, Apr 16, 2006.

  1. aidanjm

    aidanjm Lifer

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    contemporary visual representations of Jesus portray him as sexless, pained, anaemic, etc. I was amazed to read this article which describes how Jesus was portrayed in Europe (German, Dutch artists) in the 16th Century. Basically, images of Jesus were created were Jesus was sexually aroused on the cross! (the erection was usually hidden under some cloth - but the mountain peak under the loin cloth was unmistakable). In those days, sexuality was apparently seen as a very human trait, something Jesus would have experienced. Showing Jesus with an erection was seen as a celebration of his humanity. Basically, these paintings have been hidden away for centuries - they would be seen as an embarrassment by "the church" today perhaps. It's wierd the way Jesus is portrayed as sexless today, and yet contemporary Christian churches are utterly obsessed with sex (and have completely forgotten about Jesus' real mission - which was social justice).

    Our Jesus, ourselves

    The article is a bit long, here is the relevant part:

    THERE IS... a long-lost body of work that casts the image of Jesus in a much different light ? one that?s far more relevant for our time. Speaking to us more eloquently than Gibson?s blood, nails, and cat-o?-nine tails are the paintings by 16th-century Dutch and German artists that show the crucified or suffering Jesus with an erection. The most noted and sexually explicit of these are Maerten van Heemskerck?s series Man of Sorrows (16th-century shorthand for the image of the suffering Jesus) from 1525 to 1550; Marcus Gheeraerts?s Christ As Victor over Life and Death from 1560, and Ludwig Krug?s woodcut Man of Sorrows from 1520. Each of these features an aroused Jesus in the throes of his Passion. In their time, these paintings were fully accepted as religious art and understood to be theologically appropriate. By the 19th century, however, they had become artistic and religious embarrassments. It was only in 1983, with the publication of Leo Steinberg?s superb The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion (University of Chicago Press), that they resurfaced.

    Looking at these paintings and woodcuts today, it is impossible not to be shocked. There is little doubt that the images are erotic. Although Jesus? genitals are always covered with a cloth, there is no question that his penis is erect and that the artist intends to portray a sexual image. In other paintings and statues of the day, Jesus? genitals are indicated by extravagantly folded cloth coverings; in still others, his hands or fingers are pointing to, even manipulating, his genitals.

    These paintings of the suffering Jesus capture the multiple meanings of the word "passion." As startling as these images may be to our modern sensibilities ? more shocking, certainly, than anything found in Gibson?s Passion ? they made complete sense at the time of their creation. As opposed to Gibson?s bloody exercise in body demolition, these works of art celebrated Jesus? humanness. In theological terms, this is called the mystery of the Incarnation. How better to demonstrate Jesus? manhood than by ostentatiously displaying his, well, manhood. But these paintings also spoke to a larger matter ? one too often overlooked today, so enmeshed are we in commercialized sexuality and cultural prudery. These painting tell us that sexuality is sacred and holy. By rendering Jesus as a man who was born without shame (i.e., original sin) and who publicly exhibited sexual arousal, the artists were celebrating all human sexuality. Now, here?s the message: there is nothing shameful about sex ? look, even Jesus can be aroused.

    That 16th-century artists use the imagery of sexual excitement to depict Jesus? humanity, while the dominant 20th-century image of Jesus is one of pain and suffering, shows how far we have come from understanding what it means to be human. While it could never be argued that 16th-century Europe was a paragon of sexual liberation ? sodomites were burned at the stake, and women were sexual chattel ? these paintings reveal ideas about sexuality that are more advanced, in some ways, than the ones we embrace now. Too often today, sex and the body are ultimately viewed as shameful and in need of regulation. We see this in nearly all aspects of an increasingly repressive culture ? in more censorship (see "Indecent Proposal," in this section), in attacks on sex education in schools, in lack of funding for HIV/AIDS-prevention programs. But nowhere is this modern repressiveness better seen than in the battle against same-sex marriage. No one believes that denying same-sex couples the right to marry is going to stop them from having sex, or living together in happy relationships. What same-sex-marriage opponents do believe is that this is the last symbolic stand they can take against the social acceptance of homosexuality ? one of the last bastions of regulated sexuality.

    THINK OF HOW different our lives would be if these 16th-century images were accepted as part of our contemporary religious and secular life. Imagine if they were hanging in churches and cathedrals and reproduced in prayer books as simply one more aspect of a devout Christian?s spiritual life. Would we have the same sort of culture of sexual shame? Would children ? having been brought up with images of a sexualized Jesus in a religious context ? believe that sex was a "dirty" impediment to spiritual life? Would we have the same negative attitudes toward nudity and sexual desire that we have now? And when young Christian women and men ask themselves, "What would Jesus do?", would their answers differ from those of today?


     
  2. magomago

    magomago Lifer

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    I never understood where the "sex is a bad thing" came from in Christianity
     
  3. Steeplerot

    Steeplerot Lifer

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    WTF? Maerten van Heemskerck's Man of Sorrows does not feature jebus sporting a king kong sized dong :shocked:

    this is priest pr0n, anyhow everyone knows atheists are the hung ones without all that guilt to shrivel you up. ;)

    Damn man, he could smack the devil upside the head with that thing and start the rapture

    Edit: Ok nm, this is a what if thing. boo..

    If your going to report on LGBT subject what about this it's from today and pretty homophobic of bush regime to do to people.

    fake big dong jebus 2/10 *yawn*
     
  4. aidanjm

    aidanjm Lifer

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    what do you mean "a what if thing"?

    Maerten van Heemskerck did a whole series of "man of sorrows" paintings ("man of sorrows" was/ is the generic term for paintings portraying christ I think), some of which were more racy than others.
    E.g., what is happening under the cloth?

    Other "christ with erection" paintings (scroll to lower half of page)
     
  5. aidanjm

    aidanjm Lifer

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    Yes, but if I posted on that people would complain about an excess of gay-themed posts.

    It isn't fake or a joke! That is how German and Dutch artists portrayed Jesus in the 16th century.

    edit: perhaps the fact you are so incredulous is a reflection of how thoroughly de-sexualized (de-humanized) christ has become in our culture.
     
  6. Moonbeam

    Moonbeam Elite Member

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    I have heard that men get erections when they are hung but crucifixion is not something about which there is much recent anecdotal gossip to inform one. Perhaps the same is true in the more ancient execution style and what is being portrayed in not sexuality but the actual physiology of that kind of death.
     
  7. Moonbeam

    Moonbeam Elite Member

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    I also think that people who are sexually obsessed may feel better about themselves imagining that people with less obsessive reactions are simply sexually repressed. I think people see what they are looking for.
     
  8. aidanjm

    aidanjm Lifer

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    I think that you ARE probably "repressed", in that your thought processes are apparently so rigid or concretized that you are unable to contemplate a sexualized Jesus.
     
  9. aidanjm

    aidanjm Lifer

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    Except that in most of these paintings, Jesus isn't on a cross. He's lying or reclining, languidly, on a bench or whatever, apparently fondling his genitals or sporting an obvious erection. Example

    It's almost like there's some mental block, preventing you from contemplating a sexually aroused Jesus.
     
  10. compuwiz1

    compuwiz1 Admin Emeritus<br>Elite Member

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    Who cares if Jesus got a boner? God created man in his own image, then Jesus showed us the way.
    Since you can't go whack in time, say 2xxx years ago, why not focus on something more contemporary, like Boy George, Elton John, or George Michael? :roll:

     
  11. aidanjm

    aidanjm Lifer

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    I think this is an interesting topic. That is why I posted it. Don't you see that the way a culture chooses to represent Jesus says more about the culture than it says about Jesus himself? Are you that blind, or threatened, or insecure, that you are unable to see this?

    I think it says something about our contemporary culture that we have thoroughly taken the sex out of Jesus. Yet at the same time, contemporary christians and conservatives are OBSESSED with what other people are doing in the bedroom. I think this is a fascinating state of affairs.

    what a condescending comment.

    what has this got to do with any of the people you mention.

    frankly, I am amazed at the uptight responses to this thread (many of them from "liberals" no less)
     
  12. compuwiz1

    compuwiz1 Admin Emeritus<br>Elite Member

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    So, what do you consider yourself, a Retro-Contemporary Homophile, on Easter, no less?
     
  13. Steeplerot

    Steeplerot Lifer

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    If you are talking about me I was saying that the picture was not the original painting, they are redone, which is cool and all, but jesus doesen't really interest me back then or now, I gave the article a 2 out of 10 for a quick snicker knowing you would probably offend some uptight fundaheadcase with a oversized jesus dong posting.

    I could care less, ever listen to premature ejaculation or any of rozz williams stuff? His artwork? How about psychic TV stuff? Or Throbbing gristle and their stage performances? (scroll to bottom for a easter TG special)

    This is yawntastic perverted christian imagery, You could say snob maybe but uptight? blah.
    You have to work pretty hard to make me uptight to something you show, perversity to me is war and violence bashing christianitys hypocricy is so overdone and no challenge.
     
  14. compuwiz1

    compuwiz1 Admin Emeritus<br>Elite Member

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    LOL :p
    More to follow, but this is a rediculous thread, which should have never been started.

     
  15. Steeplerot

    Steeplerot Lifer

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    When you can bash christ like old punk rock bands like Crass I have listened to since a teenager then lets talk, being gay and being really out about it is not really that risque to people though, except a few backwards idiots.
     
  16. compuwiz1

    compuwiz1 Admin Emeritus<br>Elite Member

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    I'm still here, and there is nothing wrong with being gay. It's like being left or right handed. It's the grinding the nose to the stone about it, then looking for sexuality in Jesus' trowsers that most has my attention (read offence) at the moment.

     
  17. Steeplerot

    Steeplerot Lifer

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    Yeah, I dont why he has to push it on us, we all probably have friends or family that are gay, and the ones that dont are probably in denial or so wrapped up in some religion they wouldnt understand rational arguement anyway, so f' em.

    As far as the sex w/ religious figures thing, so what? straight guys like that stuff too, google "hot nun pr0n" or something. Not really shocking or anything.
     
  18. compuwiz1

    compuwiz1 Admin Emeritus<br>Elite Member

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    Well off to bed. I'm gonna stand down and try to have some respect for everyone's POV. It's Easter, after all.
    Happy Easter, everyone. :)
     
  19. Steeplerot

    Steeplerot Lifer

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    Eh, aidanjm is alright, I think hes kinda young or getting to know the boundrys of our society still. He is ok, I do understand why he is so concerned, the world does kinda crap all over certain peoples civil rights.

    Have a good rabbit day or easter or whatever liberals are suppossed to be at war with this month ;)
     
  20. aidanjm

    aidanjm Lifer

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    Why do you keep saying that? What evidence do you have that these paintings are "redone"? "Man of sorrows" is a generic term that was applied to pictures of Jesus. Maerten van Heemskerck (to take an example) did literally hundred of "man of sorrows" paintings and engravings etc. The one that you linked too wasn;t particularly racy, but others of his do clearly show "jebus" (as you say) sporting an erection. Lol. Why is this so hard for people to believe? And what does it say about us as a culture that we refuse to believe that Jesus might have ever been sexually aroused?
     
  21. Steeplerot

    Steeplerot Lifer

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    You ever see the last temptation of christ? It showed him banging mary magdalene and it was pretty sexy, well, mary was kinda hot in that movie.

    Jesus declares to Mary Magdalene after coming down off the cross for some sweet azz:
    "...Woman is God's greatest work. And I worship you. God sleeps between your legs." w00t!

    jesus freaks went on a rampage and firebombed a theatre back then and christers here in america said california would sink into the ocean if the movie was realeased!

    That was 1988 :laugh:

    So no, jesus getting laid is not new, matter of fact people made millions off it off this movie.
     
  22. aidanjm

    aidanjm Lifer

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    Are you denying that these pictures exist? Did you not read the article I linked to?

    The portayal of Jesus as sexually aroused was seen by these painters (and the church they worked for) as celebration of Christ's humanity. Today even raising the notion that Christ was a sexual being seems to cause offence. What does that say about contemporary attitudes towards sexuality?
     
  23. beyoku

    beyoku Golden Member

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    Thats why you dont trust any pictures of a white jesus......he he he.
     
  24. CessnaFlyer

    CessnaFlyer Banned

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    Why do you get excited about Jesus having an erection?

     
  25. GalvanizedYankee

    GalvanizedYankee Diamond Member

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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_erection

    It is very common practice for combat field medics to feel the groin of the seriously wounded. If there is an erection he knows his time would be spent better with other wounded.

    Some may feel better about themselves if Jesus was gay with 12 buddies and if believing so makes them feel whole, so be it.


    ...Galvanized