Sunday, December 17, 2006

Advent 15: John the Baptist

While I have been absorbed (see previous post) by Mary and her story, I have, in fact, given some thought to that wild man, John. My Jewish students were asking me about the practice of baptism the other day, and I was telling them that I have only ever seen one full-immersion baptism, in a river, no less. Several years ago as the kids and I were enjoying a post-tubing-trip swim in a quiet and narrow section of the French Broad in North Carolina, a small church group arrived to use the outfitter's river access as a baptismal font. The fully clothed minister and several of his congregation waded right in to chest depth. (Feeling a little awkward, we stayed out in the middle of the river until the event was concluded.) That's the closest I've gotten to a John the Baptist scene.

But I digress. As I said, I'm much more engaged by Mary this year, as I was last. But I started thinking that Caravaggio must have painted John the Baptist. He would not have missed a subject of so much dark and light. And indeed, he did not. Herewith, some artistic renderings of today's subject ~ (and, as you can see, I managed to find one with Mary, too):

Bouguereau, 1875

Caravaggio, c. 1610

Moscow School, 1560s

da Vinci, 1513-1516

1 comment:

Cynthia said...

The Caravaggio didn't come through, but don't you love the expression on DaVinci's John? It's like he's in on the best joke in the world. Off to look for the Caravaggio.