Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chi-Rho as Cross From the Fourth Century (Louvre MNC 919)

A brilliant epitome of Christian doctrine is presented on the Louvre Cup (c. 350-423), an incised cup with chrismon in the centre, found in a cemetery near Arras. The upright of the Rho lines up with the tree of the Fall, directly above, an apt alignment because the Fall made the Crucifixion necessary. Adam and Eve flank the tree with the serpent wound about it, so that the victorious Devil is flanked by the two it has overcome, the man and the woman whose disobedience brought death into the world. Each of the three figures - that is, Eve, the serpent, and Adam - is balanced in the three other depictions that complete the perimeter of the Arras Cup.. Daniel orant between the two lions is a man, obeying God at the risk of death, and overcoming the two wicked men who threaten her; and the dragon from Daniel 14, portrayed as a serpent coiled on a pillar, recalls the serpent of the Fall. Thus in Adam and Eve a man and a woman are shown defeated by the Devil, and then in Daniel and Susanna a man and a woman are shown defeating death, while the serpent is shown being poisoned by Daniel. Daniel and Susanna are thus reminders of the hope of the faithful, male and female, to be saved by God and to dwell in heaven eternally. Completing the sexually balanced presentation of this cup is the fact that Daniel and Susanna are also types of Christ in his Passion here, so that the iconographic programme shows a man and a woman prefiguring Christ. [source - C.B. Tracz  The Doctrinal Context for Interpreting Woman as Types of Christ]

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