John the Baptist in San Antonio

Tonight's episode of CNN's Finding Jesus concentrates upon John the Baptist. Unfortunately, I don't have cable, so I'll have to wait until the video is posted online. In the meantime, since the Baptist is on my mind, I thought I'd share some pictures I took of a few of the exhibits from the San Antonio Museum of Art that depict John. Enjoy! (P.S., I recommend this museum if you're in or near San Antonio. Great collection of local art as well as solid collections of Greek and Roman artifacts.)

 San Juan Bautista y Cristo, artist unknown, c. 1900, Mexico

San Juan Bautista y Cristo, artist unknown, c. 1900, Mexico

 San Juan Bautista, artist unknown, early 19th century, Mexico

San Juan Bautista, artist unknown, early 19th century, Mexico

 San Juan Bautista, artist unknown, early 20th century, Mexico

San Juan Bautista, artist unknown, early 20th century, Mexico

Five Favorite Films of 2014

My five favorite films of 2014 are as follows:

(5) The Fault in Our Stars: Gut wrenching, emotional roller-coaster of a film, but quite insightful as regards how we humans approach death and dying.

(4) The Grand Budapest Hotel: It's a Wes Anderson film. That's about all I need to say.

(3) Gone Girl: Creepy, disturbing, but unique.

(2) Noah: I'm interested when Hollywood tries to retell stories from the Bible. This one was done quite well. Far better than Exodus: Gods and Kings.

(1) The Book of Life: Beautiful story regarding death, memory, ancestors, and tradition with amazing animation. The narrative invites children younger and older into a world of colorful imagination.

Top honorary mention: The Giver. Films I didn't get to see, but that I imagine may have been added to this list include Birdman, Dear White People, Interstellar, Selma, and I'm sure a handful of others. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if there is a film or two I watched that I forgot, but the fact that those listed came to mind easily says a lot about their impact. 

Videos from the "Jesus and Brian" Conference

James McGrath shared that Bart Ehrman shared a video of his talk from the "Jesus and Brian: Or, What have the Pythons Done for Us?" hosted by King's College London last June. This led me to dig a little and I found that King's College has posted videos from the conference on their YouTube page. Scholars such as Joan Taylor, Helen Bond, Steve Mason, Amy-Jill Levine and others gave talks, so this should be as educational as it is entertaining! 

 

Symbols of the Gospels on La Trinidad UMC

Today I noticed for the first time that the main doors to La Trinidad UMC have wooden symbols of the Gospels on them. I took some pictures to share:

 St. Matthew = human/angel

St. Matthew = human/angel

 St. Luke = wined calf

St. Luke = wined calf

 St. Mark = winged lion

St. Mark = winged lion

 St. John = eagle

St. John = eagle

On pp. 23-26 of Francis Watson's Gospel Writing: A Canonical Perspective he discusses these symbols. He states that the earliest depiction of the Gospels, which borrows imagery from Revelation 4:6-7, and are based on the opening lines of the Gospels, derives from the writings of Irenaeus of Lyon: 

In Irenaeus, the human figure is associated with Matthew, the eagle with Mark, the calf with Luke, and the lion with John.
— Watson, Gospel Writing (p. 24)

Watson shares that Augustine of Hippo continued using these images, but he went a different direction that Ireneaus:

In a second version of the scheme, which Augustine prefers, Matthew is connected with the lion, Mark with the human figure, Luke with the calf, and John with the eagle. Augustine criticizes the first version on the grounds that its advocates ‘based their conjecture only on the beginnings of the books, not on the evangelists’ entire scope [non de tota intentione evangelistarum], which is what really needed to be investigated.’
— Watson, Gospel Writing (p. 24)

Watson affirms Augustine's rational for departing from Irenaeus:

This is a valid criticism of Irenaeus, whose equations are all based on the openings of the respective gospels: the lion-like confidence of “In the beginning was the Word . . .” (John); the figure of Zacharias the priest, potentially associated with a sacrificial calf (Luke); the humanity emphasized by Jesus’ genealogy (Matthew); and the introductory Isaiah citation that evokes “the winged aspect of the gospel” (Mark). Augustine argues that the symbolic connections should seek to account for the whole of each gospel — although in practice he does not fully develop this point.
— Watson, Gospel Writing (pp. 24-25)

I highly recommend the whole discussion, but I'll let you read it. What I want to highlight is how our congregation's building mixes the older imagery of Irenaeus with the revised of Augustine. I don't know the rational for this. The congregation has been in existence since 1876. Our current building's cornerstone dates to 1921. We are part of the Methodist tradition and our congregation has been distinctly Latino all these years. If any of this factors into the decision to use the mixed imagery, and someone knows why, let me know. 

Irenaeus

Mt. = human

Mk. = eagle

Lk. = calf

Jn. = lion

La Trinidad UMC

Mt. = human

Mk. = lion

Lk. = calf

Jn. = eagle

Augustine

Mt. = lion

Mk. = human

Lk. = calf

Jn. = eagle

John the Baptist: From Birth to Beheading (Christianity and Art)

The National Gallery (London, UK) has posted a ten episode series on YouTube discussing the art they posses that depicts John the Baptist. Whenever I go to an art gallery or museum with art of the Baptist I take a picture, so I am quite excited to have found these videos. If you're interested they can be watched here.