Why St. Paul was *not* given a philosopher's face
#11
Lisa wrote:  "You say the absence of such portraits is no proof that Jewish Christians shunned having their portraits painted."

Okay, here may be some misunderstanding between us.  Even if St. Paul would have refused to sit for a portrait because he was a Jewish Christian (which is a massive assumption), Roman Christians still saw him.  They still knew what he looked like.  He was a very public figure who was probably seen by tens of thousands of people (and probably more) all over the Mediterranean.  He would not have had to sit for a portrait in order for people who'd seen him to paint him (before or after his martyrdom) in accordance with the way he actually looked -- with the features we see in traditional portrayals of him.  Even if he would not have permitted people to paint him while he was alive, that doesn't mean that no one after his death painted his actual features from memory or oral tradition or written description.  We needn't assume that the traditional paintings of him *cannot* be based on his actual features *because he was a so-called "Jewish Christian"* (a characterization I don't think is all that accurate or relevant). And this is the assumption that the article (the part I read) makes. 
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#12
This picture is from the third or fourth century, and thus it is highly unlikely that it was drawn from memory or an oral tradition surrounding St. Paul's looks.

To say St. Paul was absolutely opposed to Jewish customs is false.  He circumcised Timothy (Acts 16) and made offerings in the Temple (Acts 21:26).  Most historians would also object to the idea that the early Christian Church was completely opposed to following Jewish customs.  In fact, I recall a traditional priest giving a sermon about Christ's prophecies in Matthew 24.  He said the 'stone upon another stone' comment referred directly to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD; when the Christian Church would be irrevocably separate from the customs of the Old Covenant.  However, up to that time (and thus the entirety of Paul's life), there was some intermingling.  So it doesn't seem completely far-fetched that Paul would not wish to be painted.
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#13
(07-28-2009, 07:46 PM)MeaMaximaCulpa Wrote: This picture is from the third or fourth century, and thus it is highly unlikely that it was drawn from memory or an oral tradition surrounding St. Paul's looks.

You are assuming that this is the first painting that depicted St. Paul in this manner.  You are assuming that there were no paintings that preceded it.  This is the earliest known example.  This does not mean that there was no tradition that has since been lost.  We don't have Vergil's autographed manuscript of the "Aeneid."  The first copies are much later.  But we trust that there was indeed a manuscript tradition during all of the intervening centuries.  Just because we don't have paintings of St. Paul that date before date X does not mean that the style in which he is painted had to have been invented at that time.    It is one hypothesis.  And the flimsy assumption that it is "unthinkable" that early Christians allowed portrait painting is not a very good support for this hypothesis. 

Quote:To say St. Paul was absolutely opposed to Jewish customs is false.  He circumcised Timothy (Acts 16) and made offerings in the Temple (Acts 21:26). 

And I did not say that St. Paul was "absolutely opposed to Jewish customs."  Please re-read my argument.  I said that it is not crazy to think that he would break with Jewish custom on some one point.  So we can't *assume* that he would follow any given Jewish custom just because it was Jewish and he was originally a Jew. 

Quote:Most historians would also object to the idea that the early Christian Church was completely opposed to following Jewish customs.  In fact, I recall a traditional priest giving a sermon about Christ's prophecies in Matthew 24.  He said the 'stone upon another stone' comment referred directly to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD; when the Christian Church would be irrevocably separate from the customs of the Old Covenant.  However, up to that time (and thus the entirety of Paul's life), there was some intermingling.

And nothing I said runs to the contrary.  I am saying that there is no reason to *assume* that early Christians maintained an absolute prohibition of portraiture just because Jews did. 

 
Quote:So it doesn't seem completely far-fetched that Paul would not wish to be painted.

*But is the contrary position "unthinkable"?*  If it's thinkable, then I win the argument. 
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#14
In order to avoid the least chance that my argument might be misunderstood, let me write out again what I am objecting to, with the key word highlighted: 

"Portraiture was very widespread in Greek and Roman art. But in Jewish culture, human images were forbidden, and therefore it was unthinkable that Paul and the others would have themselves depicted. It was only later that the Church accepted the depiction of figures of the Christian faith.”

Is it "unthinkable" that "St. Paul and the others" would break with Jewish culture on some one point?  No, it is not unthinkable, because they did in fact break with several points of Jewish culture in the course of evangelizing Gentiles.  I hope we can all agree that the proposition is "not unthinkable."  And the Shroud of Turin and several legends point to the use of images even in the earliest Church, so it is not "unthinkable" that images would be made of the Apostles after their deaths by people who knew what they looked like.  Might St. Paul, as a Jew, have objected to having his portrait painted.  Maybe -- I'll concede it as a possibility, although I seriously called it into question above.  But it is not the only thinkable scenario.  It may be that St. Paul's portrait was first painted centuries later to imitate paintings of philosophers.  But one cannot argue for this conclusion by simply *assuming* that it is *unthinkable* that St. Paul would ever have had his portrait painted.
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