Christian Art | The Face of God

Rothschild Canticles.gif I was doing some research on Christian mysticism this evening at Morling College (yes, it had nothing to do with the Christian counselling course I am officially there for) when I came across  a wonderfully illustrated book by Ursula King entitled, “Christian Mystics: The Spiritual Heart of the Christian Tradition.” In it I came across an intriguing drawing from the “Rothschild Canticles,” a 14th century text from France, that really grabbed my attention.

I thought, hey, I must really share this, so I tracked down a digitised version when I got home (see here for the online source) and here is (note: click image to enlarge).

The illustration features the face of God covered by a whirling sun. The text from the book reads, “This is the dazzling darkness of divine effacement. The Rhineland mystics describe the essence of the Godhead as being without form, a divine, luminous darkness. ‘Where understanding and desire end, there is darkness and there God’s radiance begins.'”

In essence it is an attempt at representing the transcendent vision of Christian mystics.

Now, apart from the beauty of the illustration, and the evocative subject, what I really wanted to share here is how this image perfectly illustrates what I have said before on icons and sacred aesthetics, which is, that the images should draw you deeper into the word that inspired them. And when we come to the face of God, the father of the son, the word is glory and transcendence.

When you sit with this image, what does it conjure up for you?

2 thoughts on “Christian Art | The Face of God

  1. You might find it instructive to read “The Mystical Theology” by Dionysius the Areopagite, which you can find here. I trust you are familiar with the Buddhist concept of mu? In some ways this is not dissimilar. A play on paradox in many ways.


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