Monday, June 27, 2016

Well Said: God looks like Adam and Adam looks like God

Between 1508 and 1512, on the ceiling of the Vatican's Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo depicted the spark of life in the fingertip-to-fingertip, eye-contact encounter between one, loving, creator God and one human being – not a teeming mass – just one person. In Michelangelo's fresco, we see Adam's full naked form, from head to toe. God looks like Adam, and Adam looks like God. They are the same size. Every detail here matters – that Adam is just one man, that he is naked, that he is anatomically detailed, that he is the same size as God, that God and Adam are fundamentally structured the same, that Adam is making eye contact with God, that God looks upon Adam with fiercely attentive love – every detail here has an impact on the life anyone can live in a Judeo-Christian society.
Danusha Goska, God Through Binoculars (unpublished)
This is one of those cases where a painting is so familiar that it never occurred to me to consider what the artist might be saying besides the obvious message. Yes, God creates Adam. But the way that Adam is portrayed compared to God tells us a wealth of information about Michelangelo and theology. And what it tells us, as Danusha Goska points out, is wonderful.

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