Wednesday, 13 March 2013
The position of Jonah over the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel is most significant.
Firstly, it relates to the deep (the unconscious) which existed before the separation of light and darkness (the first panel of the ceiling).
Secondly, it represents the resurrection - three days in the whale and three days in the tomb - this is "'the sign of Jonah'" Luke 11:29b (NRSV) that Jesus spoke about.
Thirdly, the figure of Jonah leans heavily to the right as if casting a net. This recalls the story when Jesus says to cast the net on the right side of the boat and it is overwhelmed with fish.
Fourthly, the figure of Jonah looks upward towards the Separation of Light and Darkness. He looks directly at the light of God. This reflects his words, "'I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishment.'" Jonah 4:2b (NRSV)
Lastly, the last word in the story of Jonah is that God spares the city of Nineveh for pity citing many innocent people and animals (this echoes God's words about Sodom and Gomorrah).
So in effect God's mercy is over the Judgment.
[Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved.]
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