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Revelation

Mary put out her hands to receive the earthenware bowl, which, through some extraordinary optical illusion, perhaps due to the light of the sky, was transformed into a vessel of the purest gold.
I started reading Saramago's Gospel According to Jesus Christ last night, the book which precipitated his self-imposed exile from Portugal. Taken aback by the grandeur of the heresy he lays out and by the subtle beauty with which he commits it. His voice describing Galilee and its denizens, and Mary and Joseph, has a familiar ring to it -- this book is very clearly written by the author of Balthazar and Blimunda.

By happy coincidence I was at the Brooklyn Museum today and got a chance to look at their collection of James Tissot's watercolors of The Life of Christ -- beautiful, meticulously researched and composed. Tissot is of course coming from a very different place than Saramago. But the commitment to a naturalistic rendering of Christ's life had me thinking of Saramago's work as I looked through this exhibition.

A few reading notes: The opening of the novel is a detailed description of a painting of the Passion, it had me wondering whether Saramago is describing a particular existing painting or a fictitious composite work. In the third chapter, when Joseph tells his tale to the council of elders, they send a delegation composed of Zacchæus, Dothan, and Abiathar ("names recorded here to forestall any suspicion of historical inaccuracy in the minds of those who have acquired their version of the story from other sources" -- ha!) to question Mary about her vision; I wonder where Saramago is getting this bit from. The three names are Biblical but I'm not finding any connection to the story of Jesus' conception.

posted evening of Saturday, January second, 2010
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Thanks for the detective work, Tommaso -- the artwork described in the first scene is Albrecht Dürer's Crucifixion of Jesus Christ:

posted evening of April third, 2015 by The Modesto Kid

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