Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Damaris and the Cartoons

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when I say the word “cartoon”?

Depending on your age you might say…..Betty Boop, Bugs Bunny, Scooby Doo, or Sponge Bob, right?

However, my subject matter doesn’t refer to those types of cartoons today.

Look at this Raphael painting below:

Raphael's depiction of Paul teaching at the Areopagus
THIS painting is referred to as a cartoon.  

Seriously…..a cartoon.

The dictionary advises a cartoon is a form of two-dimensional illustrated visual art.  While the specific definition has changed over time, modern usage refers to a typically non-realistic or semi-realistic drawing or painting intended for satire, caricature, or humor, or the artistic style of such works.   The term actually originated in the Middle Ages and was used to refer to a preparatory drawing for a piece of art, such as a painting, fresco tapestry, or stained glass window.

The above painting is part of a series referred to as The Raphael Cartoons he prepared for the Sistine Chapel, and shows Paul giving his sermon at the Areopagus or “Rock of Ares” which served as the High Court of Appeals for criminal and civil cases in the city of Athens.

Paul’s sermon is related in Acts 17: 16-34.  He drew inspiration for his sermon from the alter to the unknown god…..”The God who made the World and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.”
Upon entering Athens Paul had been upset by seeing the city full of idols.   He was taken to the Areopagus or High Court to explain himself.   What we have in Acts is one of the most full and most dramatic speeches Paul ever uttered.  He must have been very convincing because many in the crowd were converted.

Now look back at Raphel’s painting again. Notice the couple in the lower right corner.   Yes, a couple….as in husband and WIFE.    Art historians are certain this couple was added later by Raphael’s pupil, Giulio Romano because the man and woman don’t seem to fit in with relation to position or scale.

The couple is mentioned in Acts 17:34……Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed.  Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Demaris, and a number of others.

The woman's name is important.   She's listed with men in a place where men congregated in Athens.   

Why  was she mentioned?

It's very evident that she was a woman of high status or she wouldn't have been at the Areopagus.  In fact, John Chrysostom, the Archbishop of Constantinople, made the connection that Demaris was actually the wife of Dionysius thought Luke doesn't tell us.

Historians today aren't so sure.  Authors such as Robert Paul Seesengood, a biographer of Paul, agree there are no hard details to link the two......though in the whole scheme of things it doesn't really matter. 

What matters is Paul spoke...and people listened and were saved.

The cartoon detail is kind of interesting, too!!!

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