This Week at the Advent, January 26-February 1, 2020

Welcome to the Church of the Advent! If you are new to the area, visiting, or seeking a church home, we are glad you’re here and hope to have a chance to greet you in person. Please join us downstairs following the service for a coffee hour.

Child care is offered during the 9 am and 11:15 am services; an usher can guide you to the nursery.

Welcome cards are located in each pew; please fill one out so we can keep in touch.


The flowers at the High Altar are given to the Glory of God and in thanksgiving for the ministry of the Rev’d Daphne B. Noyes — deacon, chaplain, preacher, teacher,parish historian, fund-raiser, and cherished friend.

The flowers at the crossing are given to the Glory of God and in thanksgiving for the generations of faithful parishioners, talented designers, and skilled artisans and craftspeople whose devotion, generosity, and handiwork have immeasurably enriched the Church of the Advent.

The flowers in the Lady Chapel are given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Norma Dampman on what would have been her 96th birthday.


TODAY


The 9:00 Coffee Hour resumes next Sunday. If you would like to sign up to host coffee hour, please contact Barbara Boles by phone, 617-501-7572, or email, bbolesster@gmail.com, if you’re interested or have questions.

11:15 Coffee Hour. We are always in need of more volunteers; to view the schedule and select a date to co-host, visit www.theadventboston.org/1115-coffee-hour-signup/. If you have any questions, please contact Frederick Ou (frederick.ou@gmail.com), Roxy Hanson (roxenewu@yahoo.com) or Betsy James (ejames4@nc.rr.com).


Today, we welcome the Venerable Christian (Chris) Beukman, Archdeacon, Diocese of Massachusetts, who joins us to recognize Deacon Daphne B. Noyes as she begins a well-deserved retirement as our deacon. A native of the Netherlands, he attended Harvard Divinity School and Andover-Newton Theological School. The pastoral ministries manager of Linden Ponds Retirement Community in Hingham, he was ordained a deacon in 2009, has served parishes in Quincy, Walpole, and Franklin, and was appointed archdeacon in December 2018.


The ANNUAL PARISH MEETING is at 10:00 am this morning. Please go to the Hunnewell Room (Library) and sign in, get your ballot, a copy of the 2019 Annual Report, and a new edition of the Parish Directory. You may vote after you sign in, or during the meeting.

If you would be willing to help count votes, please come to the Library at the conclusion of the 11:15 Mass.


Missing coat. Fr Macdonald-Radcliff is missing a dark gray raincoat that disappeared from the coat room last Sunday. Since a similar coat (but with epaulets) was left hanging there, we assume that someone simply grabbed his by mistake. If you can help us solve this mystery, please see Fr Macdonald-Radcliff or contact the church office.


THIS WEEK


Theology on Tap: Tuesday, January 28, 7:00 pm. Fr Michael Godderz, Rector of the Parish of All Saints, Ashmont, will speak on devotional societies. The Catholic Societies have played a significant part of the Anglo-Catholic movement. They have united devout and earnest souls within parishes as well as throughout the church, indeed, throughout the Anglican Communion. Further they have helped provide greater exposure to and support for various forms of catholic practice. We’ll consider the older, traditional Catholic Societies as well as a glance at the more recent as they have sought to promote catholic theological positions and devotional practices, and claim for this catholic-minded spirituality an acceptance and place in the Anglican Churches.


Organ Recital. This Friday, January 31, 7:00 pm, International Concert Organist Arvid Gast will present an organ recital on our renowned Aeolian-Skinner organ. Born in Bremen, Germany, Arvid Gast is director of the Church Music Institute at the Musikhochschule in Lübeck. In addition, he is titular organist of the historic organs in St. Jakobi Lübeck, and held the same position at the Concerthall “Kloster Unser Lieben Frauen” in Magdeburg. He is the founder of the International Dieterich Buxtehude Organ Competition in Lübeck, and last spring served as visiting professor of organ at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. This summer, he will chair the jury of the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition in Leipzig. In 2018 he was chair of the jury in the first Boston Bach International Organ Competition. His recordings, concert invitations, and interpretation courses at home and abroad attest to his abilities as an eminent recitalist and pedagogue and he remains a foremost interpreter of German Romantic music. Professor Gast’s program will feature the famous Fantasy and Fugue on the Choral “Ad nos, ad salutarem undam” by Franz Liszt, as well as music of Karg-Elert, Reger and Widor. Free-will offering.


NEXT SUNDAY!


Next Sunday, February 2, the Feast of Candlemas, we will welcome the Rev’d Douglas Anderson, the Sixteenth Rector of the Church of the Advent. Fr. Anderson will preach and we will have the opportunity to greet him and his wife, Traci, at festive coffee hours following the Masses.


COMING UP!


Entr’acte Resumes. After the holiday hiatus, Entr’acte will be back beginning February 9. For those new to the Advent, Entr’acte (“between the acts”) is our series of adult-education presentations held between the 9:00 am and the 11:15 am Masses. They are generally led by the clergy with occasional presentations by parishioners or guest speakers with knowledge in particular areas of expertise or interest.

To kick off this season, our own Rick Stone will lead a series of three sessions entitled “New Testament Perspectives on Old Testament Law.” Continuing February 16 and 23, these presentations begin with “The Synoptics (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and The Great Commandment”, continues with “Paul and the Law”, and concludes with “Hebrews and the Priesthood of Christ.”


We will “rise against hunger” again on Saturday, February 15, from 10:00 am to noon in Moseley Hall. The Advent is once again hosting a Rise Against Hunger event for the members of our Diocese who are in the Boston Harbor Deanery. We are looking for five or six volunteers from our parish to join volunteers from other parishes around the Deanery to prepare 10,000 meals. That’s right, we will prepare dry food packages, one complete meal in each package with the necessary vitamins and nutrients, that will be sent somewhere around the world where people are hungry. The goal of Rise Against Hunger is to see an end to hunger in our lifetime – a very lofty goal, and we can do our part by stepping up and helping on Saturday, February 15. If you have helped with this event over the past few years, then you already know how much fun it can be. There’s music, some dancing, bells ringing to announce how many meals have been created, and just a good sense of satisfaction knowing that we are reaching out to others in need.

We ask those who volunteer to arrive at 9:45 on that day. We are also looking for donations to offset the $3,500.00 it takes to put on the event and meet the cost of the food and materials. Any gifts and donations to help with this cause will be greatly appreciated. If you are interested in helping or making a donation, please contact Father James. For more info, go to www.riseagainsthunger.org.


ODDS & ENDS


A special custom for The First Sunday after The Epiphany

Saint Matthew tells us that when the wise men arrived in Bethlehem to visit Jesus, they found him and his mother in a house, not the stable where they had found their first temporary shelter. This is a cue that our Epiphany celebration should focus on our own houses, and it is a very old custom to bless houses on Epiphany. In the East, in particular, it is the custom for the parish priest to go through the parish blessing houses — not the elaborate blessing of a new home, but a special blessing that is also often given at Easter, a renewal of the homes in which the people of God dwell and live out the mystery of faith day by day. In recent years, this custom has been revived in some places in the West, and the Book of Occasional Services of The Episcopal Church provides forms for this blessing. However, there is another way of blessing homes at Epiphany that begins in church, but does not require the priest to go from house to house — something that would be quite impossible in non-geographical parishes like ours. This custom involves chalk that is blessed by the priest and taken home by families to mark the doors of their homes.

There is a basket of blessed chalk on the table near the main door of the Church. The chalk is to be used to hallow all our homes throughout our parish and our city. Please take some home with you. The initials of the legendary names of the wise men are written with blessed chalk on the lintel above the front door of the house, framed by the numbers of the new year, in this way:

20 + G + M + B + 20

After making the inscription, the following prayer is offered:

Leader: The Lord be with you.

People: And with thy spirit.

Leader: Let us pray. O Lord, holy Father, Almighty, everlasting God, we beseech you to hear us and vouchsafe to send your holy Angel from heaven to guard and cherish, protect and visit, and evermore defend all that dwell in this home. I call upon thy Saints Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar, to protect my family, friends and all who enter here from every harm and danger, and I place this mark over my door to remain as a reminder to us that my home is truly the House of the Lord. O God, make the door of my house the gateway to thy Eternal Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Lord.  

All: Amen.


The flowers that adorn the Church are funded entirely by donations from members and friends of the Parish. There is an opening for flower memorials or thanksgivings on February 9. If you are interested, please contact the parish administrator (office@theadventboston.org).


Palms for Ashes: There is a basket in the All Saints’ Chapel to receive last year’s palms from Palm Sunday. They will be burned to make the ashes for the liturgies of Ash Wednesday, which falls on February 26 this year.


Contribution Statements for 2019 will be mailed this week. If you fail to receive one, or find an error on yours, please contact the church office. Note also that a few boxes of pledge envelopes are still waiting to be picked up.


FROM THE ADVENT ARCHIVES


Many people are familiar with the historic relationship between the Church of the Advent and the Society of St. Margaret, formerly housed in their convent in Louisburg Square, now in Duxbury.

Far fewer (this writer suspects) have heard of the Sisters of the Holy Nativity, or are aware of the order’s connection with the parish. From the archives, here are selections from an unfinished manuscript by Kathleen Reeves, used with her gracious permission:

Sr. Ruth Margaret SHN (see below).

When the Society of St. Margaret learned of Grafton’s release [from the Society of St. John the Evangelist in 1882], they immediately requested his resignation as their chaplain. …At the convent, pandemonium reigned…the sisters were anything but neutral about Grafton. Dismissing him had polarized them into two camps. There began to be talk of a new order of sisters, to be founded by Fr. Grafton. In the end, three of the sixteen professed sisters and seven of the fourteen novices elected to follow their former chaplain. Sister Katherine, then a novice, recorded their convictions succinctly: “I would go to any house Father started.” The turmoil and anguish on both sides was desolating. There were wounds such could be healed only by time and prayer and much love. Thus, as the heartbroken Grafton said, “amidst much suffering” did the Sisters of the Holy Nativity have their beginning. […]

Undergirding the [members of the new order] were the enthusiastic women who would become the first Associates. It is not too much to say that these Associates were co-founders of the Sisters of the Holy Nativity, for from the first tumultuous days Mesdames Codman, Bertram, Minot (Fr. Grafton’s sister), Cobb, and Davis as well as Miss Andrews and the daughters of Mrs. Codman and Mrs. Minot took an active role in the financial and physical welfare of the fledgling order, even loaning the Sisters suitable clothing until new habits could be devised, since, of course, they had no clothing except their St. Margaret habits. A relationship of mutual love and support was thus initiated.

To be continued …

Pictured above: Ruth Margaret Vose (23 January 1826–26 May 1910). In 1881, at the age of 56, she made her life profession in the Society of St. Margaret. “She was not…an idealistic young girl,” writes Mrs. Reeves, “but a mature, realistic woman when she decided to cast her lot as well as a substantial inheritance with Charles Grafton.” After Fr Grafton was dismissed as chaplain to the Society of St. Margaret, Sister Ruth Margaret left that order and became the “mother foundress” of the Sisters of the Holy Nativity.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
January 27-February 2, 2020

Monday, January 27
John Chrysostom
6:00 pm: Girl Scout leaders

Tuesday, January 28
Thomas Aquinas

5:30 pm: Bellringers
6:00 pm: Community Supper
6:00 pm: Boston Harbor Deanery
7:00 pm: Theology on Tap @ Silvertones (69 Bromfield Street, Boston)

Wednesday, January 29
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Bellringing

Thursday, January 30
7:00 pm: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Friday, January 31
11:30 am: Rosary
7:00 pm: Organ Recital: Arvid Gast

Saturday, February 1
Brigid of Kildare
10:00 am: Advent Flower Guild

Sunday, February 2
The Presentation of Our Lord (Candlemas)
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Procession & Sung Mass
10:15 am: Church School
11:15 am: Procession & Solemn Mass

Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Canon Alistair Macdonald-Radcliff at the Church of the Advent, January 19, 2020, the Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Central panel of the “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” altarpiece by Hubert & Jan van Eyck, c. 1430
The Shepherds of Arcadia (Et in Arcadia ego), Nicolas Poussin, 1637

 

From today’s Gospel:

When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them,  “What are you looking for?”

 In the name of the Father Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Familiarity is a fine thing but today,  as you were listening to words “Behold the lamb of God” three German words might have formed in your mind: namely sitz im leben  and with them the that fine German name Herman Gunkel.

Indeed you might even have been thinking “Wo ist mein Gunkel,wenn ich ihn brauche?” (Where is my Gunkel when I need him?)

This fine phrase – sitz im leben — much beloved of certain Biblical Scholars for the last hundred years or so [1] essentially means ‘setting in life’. It points to the very interesting question of what something means in its context – be that social, cultural, literary and beyond….

Which brings us to the question of: what do you suppose that phrase, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’ meant to John the Baptist and his hearers when he made this exclamation? And what does that mean for us? And how do these meanings connect?

Moreover, as the academic J. H. Roberts puts the matter, at one level [2]:

Though the message of John. 1 : 29, 36 may be pretty well understood by the average reader of the Bible, it presents the scholar with quite baffling problems …

For example:

  1. There is the point that nowhere else in the Fourth Gospel is the idea suggested that Jesus is the paschal lamb.[3]

Then again,

  1. The Greek word amnos is not the term for the paschal victim in the Old Testament, and
  2. it was not the function of this victim in any case to take away sin

 – and so on and so forth.

Yet, transcending all these academic issues is surely a quite fundamental overarching point about the Evangelist author himself,  namely,  that St John wrote his Gospel after and in the light of  the suffering, death and exaltation of Jesus.

In the face of such utterly transformative events, it was both natural and right to interpret the earlier events in the life of Christ in the light of what happened in his passion and resurrection

Thus, St John was able, quite justifiably,  to see in the Baptist’s cry: “There is the Servant, the kingly Messiah’ in accord with the larger meaning of Isaiah. 52/53[4]:

Surely here indeed,  the kingly Messiah had brought about the salvation of God’s people by means of his suffering and death ‘like a lamb to the slaughter’ [5]

By accepting such an overarching meta-narrative approach, any limited effort to find merely one definite Sitz im Leben can quite appropriately set aside a move that allows a much greater richness of approach– for both the author of the Gospel and as today – in a manner which transcends such narrow questions  as what john the Baptist himself believed at the time of the events reported. (Which remains an interesting academic matter but not one that is vital for us.

Hence the Gospel message concerning Christ viewed from the perspective of the gospel as a whole includes

  • the idea of an offering/sacrifice;
  • and the idea of the redemptive-historical work of salvation by God –which is enriched and illumined by the imagery of the paschal lamb (and the sacrifice made by the Israelites before the flight from Egypt)

While there is later the further idea added of the lamb as leader of the flock, (which is recurrent in the Revelation of St John), a perspective that stands in close relationship to this preaching about the Servant who was destined to be exalted in glory as Ruler, God’s kingly Messiah.

When taken together this collectively entails that in the image of The lamb of God we have an image which, through time,  has come to possess and disclose extraordinary power.

All of which clearly invites complex visualization and it is that which brought to mind

The Ghent Altarpiece   sometimes also known as the Polyptych of the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb) [6]

Quite appropriately it is a highly complex work.  In what we may, for present purposes, think of as the main painting (of the lower tier of the interior as it were — which becomes visible when the main panels are opened)  we see the single large painting, from which the altarpiece takes its name.

This shows, in a highly sophisticated manner, the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Mystic Lamb (which is the symbol of Christ as actually present), placed on an altar surrounded by fourteen angels and set in a rich and fertile hedged meadow, on the outskirts of an urban context that looks remarkably like Ghent or Bruges….

Four groups observe, in this meadow. On the top left, there is a procession of bishops and cardinals. On the top right, comes a group of women martyrs bearing palm leaves as the symbols of their martydom.

On the bottom left, we see a group of kneeling Jewish prophets behind whom are great pagan philosophers and scholars drawn from all over the world, as evidenced by their different styles of attire.

And then, on bottom right, we see the twelve Apostles, followed by Popes and other clergy. Saint Stephen is shown carrying the rocks of his martyrdom.[7]

All these groups are looking towards the altar in the centre of the meadow which is thus the central point of the entire painting in every way                                                                                                             

The angels surrounding the altar hold the instruments of the Passion

  • the pillar against which Christ was lashed,
  • the nails used to fix him to the cross,
  • the sponge dipped in vinegar.

Then in the very center, we see that blood is pouring from the lamb’s body into a chalice a last detail which–while small in scale– is absolutely central to the real meaning of the entire work, which is all about

  • sacrifice,
  • blood,
  • and indeed the role of the church visible with the priesthood–at one with Christ– in effectually administering the holy sacraments.

Meanwhile, in front of the altar there is what might at first seem something strange – namely a fountain—but this of course is nothing less than the ‘Fountain of Life’ from which a trickle of the water falls out towards us the viewers of the painting —who are thereby also brought into its drama, wherein —through its central act,  the blood of Christ gives us life through this divine economy into which we are called.

And as one further but important  detail I may appropriately note here – at this time when we are celebrating the long and important ministry in this parish of Deacon Daphne, that in classical mythology Daphne was that mysterious thing known as a nymph – perhaps best described as “a force of nature reified”.

The ancient Greek Daphne was a daughter of the river god Peneus and the nymph Creusa in Thessaly and as such always associated with fountains, wells, springs, streams, brooks –and other bodies of fresh and flowing water – so may we not see in that fountain of life in the foreground of the painting some adumbration of the vital Diaconal role and ministry in the church and indeed general economy salvation !

But to press on further here, we must note finally here, the inscription on the altar which states in Latin the key text of today’s Gospel:

“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

All of this when brought together, brings us to a fascinating tension in this work between

  • the realism of the style

and the

  • deeply analogical and metaphorical character of the meaning, it is intended to represent.

This invites reflection on those two great and deep Greek words of mimesis and anamnesis which I have referenced here before and which can be loosely rendered respectively as imitation and representation   versus recollection, calling to mind – with the latter being  daily iterated in the words of the Eucharist itself; ‘do ye this in remembrance of me’

But when we think about the realism of the painting how far does that go?

For there is here

  • realism of form , whereby aspects of the world of our experience are represented

and

  • more deeply perhaps, a realism of meaning: whereby a transcendental and spiritual reality– lying behind the world of experience– is somehow captured or adumbrated through elements of this created world that are here visual (and elsewhere verbal as in the word of  Scripture)?

So it is with all that in mind, that I  now would like to consider briefly a quite different and much later painting  by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665)[8], The Shepherds of Arcadia

This painting – which is, in its own terms, quietly obscure –  has come to prove quite fascinating over time, because of the challenge of how to interpret it.

In basic terms,  as we look at it, we see quite simply three shepherds and a rather grand woman –for whose presence it is hard to derive an obvious reason– all placed by something that seems to be a tomb.

The wider symbolism (as evidenced by the chitons, chaplets and sandals) discloses that this is all taking place in Ancient Greece. More specifically,  it is set in the lushly beautiful land of Arcadia,  which was a real place in ancient Greece that later became idealized.[9]

It seems that the first visual representation of all this –under the familiar memento mori theme (popular in 16th-century Venice)  made concrete via the inscription ET IN ARCADIA EGO, was by the artist Guercino in his earlier version of the scene, painted between 1618 and 1622[10]. There the memento mori message is reinforced by a skull placed in the foreground, beneath which the famous words are carved et in arcadia ego—but once again,  what do they actually mean?

In one sense, it is simple enough and can be rendered:

‘In Arcadia, (there) am I’.

(And the usual initial interpretation is that the “I” refers to Death, and “Arcadia” means a current utopian land outside our here and now.

Yet,  Poussin’s biographer, André Félibien,  interpreted the phrase to mean an implicit past,  such that “the person buried in this tomb once lived in Arcadia” (as in ‘I also was in Arcadia’) where Arcadia is THIS WORLD rather than any other—but one experienced by the person in the tomb in the past.   In this interpretation,  the meaning is that the person in the tomb once enjoyed the pleasures of this life, in our world.[11]

Nowadays, as befits an era of alienation and secular nihilism it is the (former) interpretation where the word ‘ego’ refers to Death that seems generally preferred.[12]

(Common to both interpretations is a wider deeply ironic contrast which is being drawn in the painting: between the shadow of death and the usual idle merriment that the lives of those in ancient Arcadia were thought to embody.)

But then again, we need to remember that it was Poussin as one of the greatest classical artists of France who painted this picture and that points to something further.  And when we look at what is happening in the picture very closely we can indeed see something more. For one of the two shepherds is recognizing the shadow of his companion on the tomb and seems to be circumscribing the silhouette with his finger.

And why might that be so significant ?

The answer to this,   goes back as far as that great grandee of the ancient Roman world, Pliny the Elder, who (in his Natural History) XXXV 5, 15), sees this moment of adumbration as the moment in which the very art of painting itself is first discovered.

Thought of in this way, the shepherd’s shadow is the first image in art history.

But the shadow on the tomb is also a symbol of death (in the first version symbolized by a skull on the top of the tomb).

Thus perhaps,  we are invited to see that,  from the prehistorical era of the earliest cave painting onward, the discovery of art and the engagement (and projection of meaning that it allows), has been the enduring creative response of humanity to our human condition and the shocking fact of our mortality.

Thus we can see here death’s claim to rule even Arcadia as challenged by art (arguably symbolized by the beautifully dressed but otherwise mysterious woman in the painting). Thus she stands as revealed in Arcadia with the universal significance of meaning itself – whose prerogative death has only the power to usurp.

This casts art as standing in the face of death as enabling anamnesis through mimesis and so allowing us to recall absent loved ones, and a consolation in the face anxieties and angst, able to evoke and reconcile conflicting emotions, and overcome in some measure the individual human condition of isolation, and indeed to facilitate the expression of the unutterable[13]

Yet here perhaps there is one very subtle gesture in the painting that merits thought for we see (on looking carefully) that the woman has placed what seems to be a calming hand upon one of the shepherds in such a manner as suggests an invitation to the calm of resignation –in accepting that such is the way of things.

For in the end here art and its projections of meaning may go on,  but however long we flourish, each one of us must ultimately die…..

Poussin’s painting  is very much NOT a Christian one, even though it makes a very deep point about meaning and the place of art in sustaining it.

And that takes us back to the first painting.

For Art there,  makes possible a uniquely powerful expression of the meaning and ultimate telos of goal that is at the heart of the Gospel and Christianity, even though that meaning ultimately transcends art as well: for the meaning of Christianity must always transcend (i,e be greater than) the temporal media through which it comes to expression,  in this life.

Where Poussin offers resignation van Eyck speaks to that fuller and eternal reality of Christian hope

And that is why we can be helped through the van Eyck to affirm the words in the Gospel when Andrew says to Simon, just as the Wise men did of the epiphany and those other Shepherds in Bethlehem before them:

“We have found the Messiah”….

AMEN


[1] Evidently, the term Sitz im Volksleben (‘setting in the life of the people’) was employed first time in 1906 and then later the phrase, Sitz im Leben in 1918. The latter term being used by classic form critics. See Chris Tuckett,, Prophets and paradigms: essays in honor of Gene M. Tucker ed. Gene M. Tucker, Stephen Breck Reid 1996 p. 113,  Form-Criticism of the Old Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 197; and Christopher Mark Tuckett:  Reading the New Testament: methods of interpretation 1987 – 2014″

[2] “The lamb of God”,  Neotestamentica, Vol. 2, The Christ Of John: Essays On The Christology Of The Fourth Gospel (1968), pp. 41-56

[3] While one passage might be quoted in support in John. 6 (where Jesus is said to be the Bread of Life,  which some would argue points toward the idea of the Passover)  C.H. Dodd argued instead that the comparison made there is to the manna in the Sinai and not to the Passover.

But this argument,  even if true, does not exclude the idea of the lamb being seen as the paschal lamb,  and Dodd himself grants that chapter 6 does seem to be related to the eucharist and this certainly was related to the paschal meal.  Moreover St John at least had in mind (via the tradition of the date of crucifixion) that Jesus died as the paschal lamb.

[4] ….he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
and with his stripes we are healed…..;
and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth:
he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb,
so he openeth not his mouth.

[5] This is assured by translating whatever prior Aramaic term the Baptist used, with ho amnos tou theou – a move which allows combining the various lines of thought associated  with the Servant

  • his atoning sacrifice
  • the slaughtered lamb
  • the glorious triumph attained by the Servant.

As an interpretation of the Evangelist’s  airov would then have the connotation of substitutionary bearing of sin,  53 and tou kosmon 54 would emphasise the universal value of

the substitutionary and expiatory death of the Servant: the nations and kings of the world would be brought to do homage to the Servant-King,55 for his death was to be not only for Jewry, but with a view to the gathering of all God’s scattered children (John 11:52).

When the solution of the problems of St John’s gospel (1 : 29, 36) is sought in this direction, it becomes clear that these verses are in line with the tradition of the earliest congregation as depicted in the first part of Acts.

There are many indications that the Pais-christology was far more widespread in the early church than can commonly be understood by reading a translation of the N.T. or even by a cursory reading of the Greek text itself. We have found that knowledge of this earliest tradition by John the Evangelist is at least to be seen in 1 : 29, 36.

[6] This astonishing work was commissioned by the prosperous merchant Jodocus Vijd, deputy burgomaster of Ghent, and was begun in 1425 by Hubert van Eyck, who however died before any significant work had been completed on it and  Jan van Eyck took it over.

[7] The further side panels on this tier show various groups of saints (with, to the left, Judges and Soldiers of Christ; and on the right, pilgrims and hermits) all painted against a backdrop of a single landscape with verdant slopes but a stony path. (and on the extreme right there is a towering figure of St Christopher, patron saint of travelers —but we must not digress).

[8] Who was himself almost the life’s work of Anthony Blunt, sometime Keeper of the Queen’s paintings – notoriously exposed late in life under Mrs. Thatcher as one of the notorious Cambridge spies but I digress….

[9] The first literary record in the Western canon of a tomb with a memorial inscription[9]  set amid the idyllic settings of Arcadia is to be found in Virgil’s Eclogues V 42 ff.   It was this idea that was taken up anew and revived much later during the Florentine Renaissance and the time of Lorenzo de’ Medici in the 1460s and 1470s, and  by 1504, Jacopo Sannazaro had established the Early Modern concept of Arcadia as a lost world of idyllic bliss, only now to be remembered in regretful dirges.

[10] Now in the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Rome

[11] This reading was common in the 18th and 19th centuries, e.g.  William Hazlitt who wrote that Poussin “describes some shepherds wandering out in a morning of the spring, and coming to a tomb with this inscription, ‘I also was an Arcadia’.”  See “Why the arts are not progressive – A fragment’, in The round table: a collection of essays on literature, men, and manners, by William Hazlitt. Edinburgh and London: Constable. 1817. p. 258.

[12] The vagueness of the phrase is famously discussed by the art historian Erwin Panofsky in his essay: Meaning in the Visual Arts. University of Chicago Press, 1983.

[13] See, Becht-Jördens, Gereon; Wehmeier, Peter M., Picasso und die christliche Ikonographie. Dietrich Reimer Verlag, Berlin 2003, pp. 181–209.