Friday, October 10, 2014

Always Old- Always New

A recent discovery in Spain gives us another image of Christ.

This is a portion of a communion platter (paten) uncovered by archaeologists in Spain. What struck many people was the fact that this image, thought to be one of the oldest ever discovered, shows him with no beard and short hair.

It was found in southern Spain and the archaeologists estimate it to be from the 4th Century. In terms of Christian history it raises a question on the traditional date that Christianity came to Spain which has been thought to be the 5th Century. But more interesting to many is the beardless, close-cropped hair of the Savior. All of the previously discovered images of Christ from the 4th Century have depicted him with beard and long hair. This picture more closely resembles images from the Catacombs in Rome.

The recovered plate is in remarkably good condition. The researchers have managed to piece together 81% of the original. This picture shows a drawing of it with the missing pieces in white.

The other two people in the image are thought to be Peter and Paul and is to be an image in the afterlife.

What strikes me is not those specifics, although they are interesting, but rather the long line of continuity that these represent. We are talking 17 centuries of history having occurred between then and now. Yet, we still have some of the understandings and practices from that time. We have changed them significantly, of course. We have different understandings of the world (and the Word!). But we share a basic common faith in Jesus Christ. No modern Christian would mistake who is at the center of the picture.

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