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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Saint Peter   Mon 13 Jan 2014, 09:54

Since Tim left in a  Gideon  huff 'n puff, I doubt there will be much argument here - and - gulp - am not trying to be provocative but following the 'Was Jesus for real?' thread of old, what proof is there that Peter was too? And if he can be proved to be a real person - with cross referenced proofs, then what was he about?
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Mon 13 Jan 2014, 19:37

Poor old Peter  - so no one is even going to deny him, mm?
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Mon 13 Jan 2014, 21:41

@Priscilla wrote:
Poor old Peter  - so no one is even going to deny him, mm?


No time, no time dear Priscilla...

Just did research about the languages Charles V could speak for a French forum. Found a Dutch language survey from a professor of the university of Ghent (in germanic philology): What language spoke emperor Charles (keizer Karel) V?
And in the meantime I learned from that article the birth of the separation between "Nederlands Duits" (lowland Dietsch, Deutsch) and Overland Deutsch (High German, Hochdeutsch)...
Yesterday the whole evening a study about the history of the Jewish community of Antwerp for the Historum forum...
Preparing for this forum a question about the book "War" from Ian Morris:
http://www.uwindsor.ca/dailynews/2013-11-04/classics-scholar-outline-upside-war

Kind regards and with high esteem,

Paul.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Tue 14 Jan 2014, 08:29

Well, I don't know whether Simon Peter really existed or not (do any of us actually exist, I wonder?), but whoever dreamed him up was certainly a cracking writer: he's a great character.

I like Peter very much because he always made such a mess of things.

St. Paul found him immensely irritating, by all accounts.

PS Didn't Charles V speak different languages according to whether he was having a conversation with God, his horse, his dog or his mistress?
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Tue 14 Jan 2014, 08:55



Look, Peter, I know you can't read very well, but it says quite clearly here that I am right.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Tue 14 Jan 2014, 10:11

Peter - the full package - is a quasi historical figure, like a lot of the guys from the same limited narrative we have inherited. That is not to say he isn't a great character and nor is it to say that he is totally without historical foundation, just like his ex-boss. The problem is as usual deciding the criteria by which one will make any assumption regarding the historicity of all that is traditionally assumed to be historical in the narrative in question.

Peter's own name represents a complication, not primarily in the very early assignment (in the narrative sense) of a Greek personal name for a lowly person of supposedly non-Greek stock (this applied to several of the characters) but in the confused way in which it happened. The "official" explanation is that Jesus (who followed a more direct route from his Aramaic name through Greek into Latin) had nicknamed him "Képhà". In the Greek this was transliterated as "Kephas" and Paul uses this name sometimes. However there appears to be contemporaneous use of "Petros", which Paul also uses, and this has given rise to speculation about the possible reasons why certain Greek speakers should understand one name to be the chief one and others another. This can be anything from some people just not getting the pun to an early conflation of previously distinct characters in the narrative's formation.

With the exception of the miracles traditionally ascribed to him much of the rest of the biographical detail supplied in the narrative sounds plausible in terms of achievement but not necessarily with regard to one person having achieved what is claimed.

The earliest written account of him is generally agreed to be Paul's description in the "Epistle to the Galatians" of the arguments between them both regarding the treatment of gentile converts.  However this is also therefore the earliest instance of the dichotomy in the conventional name in use at the time for the man. Paul visits Petros in Jerusalem but later it is Cephas who visits Paul in Antioch. The vagueness of the outcome of this dispute has had far reaching theological implications for Christians over the ages but the vagueness in characterisation has also led to some historiographical argument regarding its validity as an accurate report of events and personalities.

Other traditionally accepted parts of the narrative beyond this also lead to confusion regarding authenticity. The book assigned to Peter is written by someone who claims to be in Babylon though tradition and some significant theological requirements of the established church interpret this as Rome. The same narrative leads others to either expand or indeed minimise his asserted role as bishop in Antioch. The divergent assertions regarding his literacy or lack of it call certain other claims into consequent doubt regarding authenticity. Even the sequence of events contains built-in contradictions which can only be resolved by questioning other claims within the same tradition (a Peter writing his book in Rome who has apparently forgotten his earlier patriarchy in Turkey, for example).

In summary there appears to have been an early requirement for a Greek identity that was satisifed in two distinct manners unlike anyone else in the narrative. There was a later requirement to establish his role in the formation of the church then being defined by Paul as a contrarian that hardly squares with the notion of a respected patriarch of Paul's church in the making. However an even later requirement arose to have him fulfil exactly that role, as well as that of super-missionary who eventually "cracks" the centre of the empire itself. All of this with constantly divergent claims and deductions regarding his literacy, personal theology and effect as a communicator. This diversity of function, attitude, belief, identity and ability in relation to other contemporary characters using normal historical criteria would at least suggest a possible conflation has occurred along the way. The fact that the same narrative provides a possible solution to the confusion in the provision of seventy early "disciples" with near to founding-father status in the church and who included some "Peters" in their ranks should really only accelerate doubts about the historicity of the traditional St Peter account.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Tue 14 Jan 2014, 18:19

So one of the possible Peters from one of the possible and several sects of the time managed, without wealth, arms warfare or clout managed to shake an empire and establish a long lasting influential faith - and that within how many years since the possible lifetime of Jesus ?.... Remarkable outcome even if early substantiated proofs are not to hand..
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Tue 14 Jan 2014, 20:01

Or was hijacked for that purpose. The question is - why him and not Paul? They end up with equal billing but no thanks to Paul's groundwork.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Tue 14 Jan 2014, 21:57

Nordmann,

some vague rememberance from the nun's school...
The name Petrus from the Greek "Petra" (rock). Jesus: from now on Simon will be called Petrus (rock) and on this rock I will build my church...

No time to verify...

Kind regards from Paul...not "that" Paul...
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Wed 15 Jan 2014, 03:24

One of the few things I remember from religious indoctrination at nun's school too Paul. It is the standard Catholic justification for the Pope but other denominations interpret the line differently.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Wed 15 Jan 2014, 07:56

@nordmann wrote:
Or was hijacked for that purpose. The question is - why him and not Paul?


Yes, that is very much the question - I suppose. Diarmaid MacCulloch deals with it with wonderfully dry humour in his History of Christianity. I have struggled through the relevant chapter this morning, but the details are very confusing. I, of course, want to believe in the Peter of the Gospels - an impulsive, hot-headed, utterly sincere and lovable idiot of a man - no intellectual -  who could be relied on for rushing in, doing and saying all the wrong things; a man who went through agony because he betrayed someone he loved. You have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by the character and his story. But such sentimental tosh won't do. We are here to look at the history. Who on earth is this Damasus character and who is Optatus?


"One aim of this programme* was to place a new emphasis on the role of Peter rather than the joint role of Peter and Paul in the Roman past. Moreover, it was in Damasus's time that Peter came to be regarded not merely as the founder of the Christian Church in Rome, but also as its first bishop. Ironically it was actually a North African bishop**, point-scoring against his local Donatist opponents by stressing the North African Catholics' links to Rome, who is the first person to have asserted on the basis of Matthew 16: 17-19 that 'Peter was superior to the other apostles and alone received the keys of the kingdom, which were distributed by him to the rest'...All this promotion of Peter was not merely for the Pope's greater glory; it was a conscious effort to show that Christianity had a past as glorious as anything that the old gods had to offer. The faith adopted by Constantine and his successors was no longer an upstart, but could be regarded as a religion fit for gentlemen" (ie the Roman aristocratic elite).


Is MacCulloch right? I expect he is, but I still don't get it. They all seem to have lost something in the translation somehow (the Romans, I mean, not MacCulloch).

* The programme - making Rome and its suburbs into a Christian pilgrimage city - was one full of possibilities: Damasus saw this apparently.

** Had to look this one up - he's Optatus, Bishop of Mileu, but I know nothing about him.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Wed 15 Jan 2014, 08:29

Paul / ID - In Aramaic the word képhà has the following translations based on its use in scripture according to Jastrow's "Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature";

rock, stone, ball, pearl, jewel, hailstone, coral, precious stone, amber, shore, border, arch, vault, bundle, sheaf

You can see that it is quite a versatile tool semantically and the inclusion of concepts that infer preciousness make it an interesting one in the context of the famous renaming scene within the Christian base narrative. It is also interesting in that other usage which infers a role as part of a structure translates normally as arch or vault rather than foundation, the latter however being the meaning Christians chose quite early on to adopt as the more precise inference. This may actually indicate a very early push on the part of some of those shaping the theology in promoting their man, probably against alternative interpretations regarding who was best suited to head up the outfit.

Temp - your quote from McCulloch to me merely shows a later development in what seems already to have been a three hundred year old struggle between factions in which the character and role of Peter (as opposed to Paul) was considered malleable and available to be tailored to suit internal political ends within the faith. This in fact works against the guy's historicity too, though as you say it has also produced a rather strikingly human character, at least in the accounts about his early career as a disciple. A more historically established character however (such as Paul seems to have been) never became quite the same theological football, and the fact that Peter was up for grabs in this respect would appear to indicate that there was more freedom to make up historical factoids which neither tradition nor known fact could contradict. This is a feature more of myth than factual narrative.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Wed 15 Jan 2014, 09:38

Maybe. But perhaps we (or rather some of us) need our myths - where there is no vision the people perish and all that. But then when there is vision the people still perish. It's a sorry business, all in all.

But mustn't go down that route here. Let's stick comfortably with the in-fighting of the early Church - or rather Churches - the Jerusalem one and the Greek one. It's usually Peter who is seen as the leader of the former, and Paul of the latter. Is that too simplistic a view? And then there's James - James the Just, not the Apostle James. James the Just, the brother of Jesus, was hugely influential, so I believe, far more important and respected even than Peter. Very concerned, as his brother had been, about the poor and the wretched and the suffering, so probably he was something of an embarrassment to the important folk later on in Rome. But James seems to have been written out of the story very early on. Why was that? Paul's fault? All the Gospels and the Acts were written post-Paul - most people don't realise that. According to some non-canonical sources (can't rememember which) it was James the Just who was officially designated "next leader" -  by Christ himself - not Peter at all. But that too seems suspect: argument over  "leaders" and who got to occupy the best seats at top table wasn't what He was all about, after all. All those men of the early Church seem to have ignored the teaching about the first being last and the last first, and being sent to serve, not to be important etc. etc.

Does anyone know anything about the "Pseudo-Clementines" and Peter? Tim, perhaps, if you still look in here?
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Wed 15 Jan 2014, 17:33

"What a muddled message I've made this. Shouldn't have started editing it.
EDIT: trying to keep it all historical, not letting personal stuff intrude."

Not at all, SST. I, personally, understand it in any case much better than some highbrow texts of academics...

Thank you very much Nordmann for your explanation about the "rock" story.

Kind regards and with high esteem for you both,

Paul
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Wed 15 Jan 2014, 17:37

Addendum to the previous message


And now that particular text is gone, Temperance... Rolling Eyes  Cool  Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Wed 15 Jan 2014, 17:42

@PaulRyckier wrote:
@Temperance wrote:
"What a muddled message I've made this. Shouldn't have started editing it.
EDIT: trying to keep it all historical, not letting personal stuff intrude."

Not at all, SST. I, personally, understand it in any case much better than some highbrow texts of academics...



I've just edited my edit, Paul, but thank you for that! It was a dreadfully muddled message, I'm afraid - still is, but it's such a confusing subject...
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Wed 15 Jan 2014, 17:45

Sorry. Embarassed
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Wed 15 Jan 2014, 20:34

@Temperance wrote:
@PaulRyckier wrote:
@Temperance wrote:
"What a muddled message I've made this. Shouldn't have started editing it.
EDIT: trying to keep it all historical, not letting personal stuff intrude."

Not at all, SST. I, personally, understand it in any case much better than some highbrow texts of academics...



I've just edited my edit, Paul, but thank you for that! It was a dreadfully muddled message, I'm afraid - still is, but it's such a confusing subject...

 Temperance, thanks for the explanation.

BTW: Now I see by "reasoning" that the "halo" around the name is not a "divination" of Nordmann but only that one as you has reached the more than 2000 posts ....
(oops see now in my English concise Collins that "divination" means (not as in French): "the art or practice of discovering future events or unknown things, as though by supernatural powers"

English is a tricky language indeed...
Let me correct the sentence: the "halo" around the name is not a making divine of a Nordmann...

Kind regards and still with high esteem,

Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Wed 15 Jan 2014, 21:10

Paul wrote:
the "halo" around the name is not a making divine of a Nordmann...


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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Thu 16 Jan 2014, 04:52

Now Paul and Temp are glowing. Does this mean you have both reached disciple status?

Edit. He'll have to work extra hard to keep that hoola hoop up Nordmann, too narrow in the hips and no flexibility. Belly dancing lessons may improve that in time.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Thu 16 Jan 2014, 08:00

Paul can be a disciple if he wants. My ambition, alas, is not so exalted:






PS That hoola hoop is really dreadful: it makes me sick and dizzy just looking at it. And here's me worrying about the Pseudo Clementines and Saint Peter - as if anyone gives a hoot*. (I got some Pseudo Satsumas from M&S at Christmas - seedless they were supposed to be - they were actually full of pips. In this, as in so many things, I was sadly deceived.)

*EDIT: I was going to put  "as if anyone gives a monkey's" in my original post, but I was worried that that expression was rude and could give offence to some readers. Apparently, there are many explanations for the origin of "not giving a monkey's" - the 500 rupee note one isn't rude at all, but those explanations connected with the mating practices (and other more solitary sexual habits) of chimpanzees are. I'd never heard about the tossing of poo before, either. You live and learn. All here in the posters' comments from this Guardian article. Sorry, Priscilla, poor old Saint Peter's bit the dust, I fear - shame.)


http://www.theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,5753,-24790,00.html
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Thu 16 Jan 2014, 14:18

Seems St. Peter's bones are nearly as controversial as Them Other Bones (Urn).

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/18/saint-peters-bones-vatican-relics


On Sunday, fragments of the bones are to be displayed in public as part of celebrations to mark the end of the Year of Faith, an initiative launched by Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned this year.

The fragments, contained in an urn usually kept in a private papal chapel, will be presented for public veneration in St Peter's Square at a mass celebrated by Pope Francis.

The decision to exhibit is controversial. No pontiff has ever said the bones are without doubt those of Saint Peter, and some within archaeological circles are fairly sure they are not.

The battle over the bones, which pits a rigorous Jesuit archaeologist against a pioneering female epigraphist, is one of the strangest stories to have come out of the Vatican during the 20th century and may also be one of the least dignified
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Thu 16 Jan 2014, 14:35

That whole "St Peter's Bones" fiasco shows just how highly the church values "truth" and how just about anything can and will be averred to be "fact" when it supports the notions of arrogant, ignorant and self-deluded fantasists pursuing an agenda (be it religious or profit-based). Ironically, the one figure above reproach in the whole sorry string of liars who have been involved in "identifying" and "publicising for veneration" the supposed bones of St Peter was the ultra-orthodox Jesuit, the late Fr Antonio Ferrua, principal archaeologist on the initial dig that uncovered them. While popes dithered and dallied, ultimately erring on the side of stupidity, Ferrua staunchly maintained throughout his life that those who made such a claim were frauds.

But then when you have eight and a half million wallet bearers visiting your kip every year to have a look at Pete's patella and proximal phalanges it must be very tempting indeed to provide them with same, even if they could have belonged to any one of several thousand old codgers buried under the luxury palace in which you happen have rent-free lodgings.

What a shower of idiots they both are - the fraudsters and the defrauded!
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Thu 16 Jan 2014, 15:13

@nordmann wrote:


What a shower of idiots they both are - the fraudsters and the defrauded!


I agree with that.

It does all seem a load of nonsense to me - but then I'm a Protestant and we don't do relics. The whole thing "smelleth of forging and crafty packing", as John Foxe would say.

The life - or the story of the life - of a saint, and the words written by him (or by someone who knew him), are far more worthy of consideration (please note I say consideration, not veneration) than a heap of suspect old bones.

These Vatican bones are apparently cursed too, which I suppose makes St. Peter nearly as interesting as a mummy to some people.

PS But I will go on a pilgrimage to Leicester, I expect.  Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Thu 16 Jan 2014, 16:06

Re a an earlier posting about gospels being 'written' post-Paul (spare ne postman Pat/Paul jokes for a tad) just how long after the crucifixion - which may /may not have happened - were they  supposed to have been formulated?

No apologies ever necessary temp. As in any reasonable discussion, off track digression is surely the norm and without which it could become most dreary. I too like the image of Peter dredged from the Biblical sources - perhaps Paul encouraged recording of his gaffs - early negative PR ploy.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Thu 16 Jan 2014, 16:31

Well, you get different info in different books, but I think this is roughly correct:

Paul's Epistles - 48 - 54ish AD (Paul died around 66 AD.)

Acts of the Apostles - could be as early as 60ish AD, but probably nearer to 90AD

Mark - 70ish AD

Matthew - 90-100 AD

Luke - 90-100 AD

John - 100-120ish AD

That really surprised me: for years, in my innocence, I supposed the Gospels were written very soon after the events they described, and that they appeared in the order that we have them: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, then the Acts, then the various Letters. In fact, the writers of the Gospels (and apparently only Luke, Paul's companion, actually wrote his Gospel) were all very much influenced by Paul's theology.

This is where we need Tim - it could be I am reading all the wrong books and I am wrong about all this.

PS Then there is the "Q" material - which Matthew and Luke apparently drew on - there are no physical copies of this "document".

PPS And Paul didn't write all Paul's letters.  Suspect
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Thu 16 Jan 2014, 16:49

@Priscilla wrote:
 I too like the image of Peter dredged from the Biblical sources - perhaps Paul encouraged recording of his gaffs - early negative PR ploy.


Well, if he did (and Peter and Paul really didn't get on at all), it backfired on Paul: Peter's gaffes make him very human - and very loveable. Paul is a more difficult character to like: there is an intellectual arrogance about him which is no doubt a cover for feelings of inadequacy. Peter's mistakes - and his passionate sincerity - make him easier to identify with. Maybe that's what de Ribera (in the picture above) was trying to show.  

I know it's not fashionable - and certainly not at all cool - to mention Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, but I think the Denial Scene is well done: it isn't sentimental and avoids, on the whole, the usual dreadfully embarrassing Monty Pythonish effect you usually get in Bible films, although I'm sure others here will disagree. And I think the use of Aramaic works really well.

Poor Peter:



Last edited by Temperance on Fri 17 Jan 2014, 07:54; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Thu 16 Jan 2014, 17:10

The time lapses are much as I thought. But what disturbs me as I grow older is how clear early memory can be, yet   time lapse is used as  negative  claim to accuracy. I am blessed with a long term memory - even going back to a few moments when I was 9mths old. Over the years I have astounded family by my recall of events, dialogue and places  but they had forgotten about but could then vouch as safe record. Thus it is also with many memoirs written long after the event. ...... I began my own but stopped when I reached age 10 and 500 pages!.... and that was selective, too. So, with not much else to clog the mind going on early scribes may well have recalled quite  a lot.  Much of that would have been crystallised by frequent retelling, of course - and then there was St Paul - a sort of Lord Mandelson meddler.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Thu 16 Jan 2014, 17:12

PS Not only are we all glowing here on this thread, but our feather (see Home Page) is now on fire. Very Pentecostal.



EDIT: Crossed posts, Priscilla. Yes, memory is a very strange thing. There's a line from some song or other came into my head while I slept: "And I tried to remember what I'd tried to forget."
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Fri 17 Jan 2014, 12:46

Temp - I found this on a philosophy blog and thought of you. The writer is struggling to reconcile the two disparate approaches philosophy and religion take with regard to a feeling of exile from reality and a fundamental separatism we experience from when we first question the notion of what constitutes "reality" around us ("do others see "yellow" as I do?", "is "pain" the same for you as for me?", "does anything exist outside of my own consciousness?" etc). She sees the plaintive cry of the dying Jesus on the cross as one religion's tacit recognition of this unavoidable feeling we all harbour and which can be experienced as distressing by many when it looms into our thoughts.

"Both religion and philosophy offer us ways of conceptualising and seeking to resolve a profound sense of exile or separation from reality, one that we also seek, rather blindly, to resolve in our daily life  (including, in my case at least, when we travel as tourists). Whatever psychological causes there are for this sense of exile are supplemented by the genuine intellectual concerns that give rise to philosophy. Historically, religion has served both to soothe the psychological sources of perceived exile and to address intellectual concerns about the nature of reality and the place of our consciousness within it. Over the centuries, those intellectual concerns have been inherited by philosophy. But while philosophy is the place to look for answers, religion continues to give us a rich mythology of our quest to apprehend the real. And if the real seems to remain beyond our grasp no matter how hard we study, or how many photographs we take, or how many stones we touch, the Christian story and all of its rich imagery at least gives us the consolation of making our exile a thing of great beauty."

I don't actually go along with her very last assertion but I feel you might, and therefore might appreciate the sentiment (hers, not mine!).

What this has to do with St Peter is a bit oblique - I was trying to find a blog on the same site (it's become over fifteen years an excellent magazine in its own right) which I had read one time addressing how evil Peter was in his alleged writings (quite apart from the canonical bits, according to the gnostic writings attributed to him his proposed treatment in heaven of homosexuals, adulterers and women who have had abortions is simply lewd - and what the hell does he want them in heaven for anyway except as grotesquely sadistic entertainment for the "chosen"?) and how this contrasts completely with the cuddly "Little John" to Jesus's "Robin Hood" image beloved of Anglicans, Catholics (including Mel Gibson) and Rastafarians.

It is also worth noting that this early Christian concept of heaven included all the features that later came to be associated with hell. In other words the gates to which Peter held the keys and was custodian led to the whole kaboodle - and the worst excesses of inhumane treatment of damned souls were to be played out in full view of the virtuous and all the top guys in this establishment. This was no place for middle-of-the-road Church of England moderates, methinks.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Fri 17 Jan 2014, 15:02

I have deleted earlier message because it was a load of pretentious tosh.

I have been given a book this afternoon - "Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense." It is by Francis Spufford, a former Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. He wrote this book sitting at the corner table by the window in the Sidney Street, Cambridge branch of Costa Coffee, so I have great hopes of it. My friend assures me it will help me feel less battered.

Perhaps Spufford will say something of relevance to our discussion here about Saint Peter.

PS I am very distressed at the thought of Peter as a cuddly Little John. Who gets to be the Sheriff of Nottingham? Pontius Pilate, I suppose.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Fri 17 Jan 2014, 19:10

The point is really that our notion that these characters' characteristics can be deemed good and therefore worthy at least of some respect and actual likability as people has been emulated and repeated through previous generations, all the way back to the foundation of the narrative cycle. Peter has been seen as a sound bloke (a brick if not a rock) all the way back to the start, but what constituted and exemplified this quality has been transformed radically en route. We see him as sound because of his human faults rather than in spite of them. But others in the past may well have seen his deliverance from that faultiness when imbued with the divine breath at Pentecost as the fundamental ingredient in his elevation to patriarch of the church and indeed the only valid reason therefore that he should garner respect. It is the same with almost anyone else who appears in the narrative too - a consistent perception of their value to the myth's logic and purpose does not necessarily reflect a consistent assessment of the characteristics they exhibit in their narrative roles. This ability of a character to survive the vagaries of the zeitgeist while retaining interest and affection is a crucial aspect in any long-standing myth. Indeed it is this that gives it its longevity.

The gnostic idea of a Peter whose revelation of the apocalypse makes John the Divine's appear a work of scholarly maturity and restraint by comparison seems at odds with what we think we know about his character now, as well as out of keeping with the canonical texts ascribed to him that have survived. However for many early Christians the following were the words of the same man and totally in line with the texts that have survived in the canon, as well as with the notion of Peter as a staunch supporter of the Christ demigod and his rabbinical teachings. It begins, to our ears, to get very un-Christian - and also very un-Peterish - from point 20 onwards;

15. And the Lord showed me a very great country outside of this world, exceeding bright with light, and the air there lighted with the rays of the sun, and the earth itself blooming with unfading flowers and full of spices and plants, fair-flowering and incorruptible and bearing blessed fruit.

16. And so great was the perfume that it was borne thence even unto us.

17. And the dwellers in that place were clad in the raiment of shining angels and their raiment was like unto their country; and angels hovered about them there.

18. And the glory of the dwellers there was equal, and with one voice they sang praises alternately to the Lord God, rejoicing in that place.

19. The Lord saith to us: This is the place of your high-priests, the righteous men.

20. And over against that place I saw another, squalid, and it was the place of punishment; and those who were punished there and the punishing angels had their raiment dark like the air of the place.

21. And there were certain there hanging by the tongue: and these were the blasphemers of the way of righteousness; and under them lay fire, burning and punishing them. 22. And there was a great lake, full of flaming mire, in which were certain men that pervert righteousness, and tormenting angels afflicted them.

23. And there were also others, women, hanged by their hair over that mire that bubbled up: and these were they who adorned themselves for adultery; and the men who mingled with them in the defilement of adultery, were hanging by the feet and their heads in that mire. And I said: I did not believe that I should come into this place.

24. And I saw the murderers and those who conspired with them, cast into a certain strait place, full of evil snakes, and smitten by those beasts, and thus turning to and fro in that punishment; and worms, as it were clouds of darkness, afflicted them. And the souls of the murdered stood and looked upon the punishment of those murderers and said: O God, thy judgment is just.

25. And near that place I saw another strait place into which the gore and the filth of those who were being punished ran down and became there as it were a lake: and there sat women having the gore up to their necks, and over against them sat many children who were born to them out of due time, crying; and there came forth from them sparks of fire and smote the women in the eyes: and these were the accursed who conceived and caused abortion.

26. And other men and women were burning up to the middle and were cast into a dark place and were beaten by evil spirits, and their inwards were eaten by restless worms: and these were they who persecuted the righteous and delivered them up.

27. And near those there were again women and men gnawing their own lips, and being punished and receiving a red-hot iron in their eyes: and these were they who blasphemed and slandered the way of righteousness.

28. And over against these again other men and women gnawing their tongues and having flaming fire in their mouths: and these were the false witnesses.

29. And in a certain other place there were pebbles sharper than swords or any spit, red-hot, and women and men in tattered and filthy raiment rolled about on them in punishment: and these were the rich who trusted in their riches and had no pity for orphans and widows, and despised the commandment of God.

30. And in another great lake, full of pitch and blood and mire bubbling up, there stood men and women up to their knees: and these were the usurers and those who take interest on interest.

31. And other men and women were being hurled down from a great cliff and reached the bottom, and again were driven by those who were set over them to climb up upon the cliff, and thence were hurled down again, and had no rest from this punishment: and these were they who defiled their bodies acting as women; and the women who were with them were those who lay with one another as a man with a woman.

32. And alongside of that cliff there was a place full of much fire, and there stood men who with their own hands had made for themselves carven images instead of God. And alongside of these were other men and women, having rods and striking each other and never ceasing from such punishment.

33. And others again near them, women and men, burning and turning themselves and roasting: and these were they that leaving the way of God


It is assumed that this stuff was thrown out of the canon as it didn't square with contemporary views. In so far as it did indeed offend some contemporary views in the end this much is correct, but what we don't know is how more relevant either attitude was to the majority of believers when it was essentially proscribed by the mainstream church leaders or to what extent each prevailed in terms of popularity in the meantime. Indications left even by the critics are that this Apocalypse of Peter was popular throughout the Levant, Arabia and Egypt. Crucially, its longest attested popularity documentarily (right up to the 9th century) was in an area not at all far from where Peter himself and the narrative in which he played a seminal role originated. This may be a non-Roman and non-Hellenic Peter, but for all that it might well have been a very "Peter" Peter, and much closer to the actual ideas of the narrative's originators than later versions of the church founded at least partly in his name could stomach.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Sat 18 Jan 2014, 08:44

Where is that from? I've tried to find it this morning, but I can't - it's very confusing because there are two Apocalypses - a "gnostic" one and an ordinary  Suspect one - attributed to our cuddly Peter. The dates given are very vague - between 100/300 AD. Peter is supposed to have died around 67AD, so surely it is unlikely he had anything to do with this nonsense. And it is nonsense, isn't it? But aren't many of the so-called "gnostic" writings a bit suspect? I seem to remember when I was going through my Freke and Gandy period  Embarassed  you quite rightly warned me not to take it too seriously. So much of the gnostic material is indeed very silly stuff like your quoted text - the ravings of hysterical religious ecstatics? The Early Church - like the fundamentalist wing of the Church today - was full of such difficult people; they are hard to cope with, and it is utterly impossible to have a rational conversation with any of them. (Not very Christian and charitable of me, I know, but there you go...)

The two letters of Peter in the New Testament are very different in style and content, although even they are believed by some authorities to be pseudoepigraphical; "Peter" admits as much himself when he writes (1 Peter 5:12): "With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly..."

Like old bones, old writings are hard to identify. But whoever wrote 1 Peter, it offers a better, calmer, gentler sense than the text you have quoted:


Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one for another. Love each other as brethren, be sympathetic, be courteous,

9 not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing, knowing that ye are called thereto, that ye might inherit a blessing.

10 For, “He that would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.

11 Let him eschew evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.

12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.”

13 And who is he that will harm you if ye be followers of that which is good?

14 But if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye. “And be not afraid of their terror; neither be troubled.”

15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man who asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Sat 18 Jan 2014, 09:48

Exactly - contemporaneous literature of fundamentally different theological stance attributed to one author, and not just two divergent stances in this case but several, with strong indications that one of the most extremely divergent was for a matter of centuries regarded as primary material by people within a culture on the fringe of empire close to the narrative's own alleged origins. Regardless of which stance won out as canon or of which you might prefer with regard to your own concept of what constitutes philosophical content, in the paleographical sense the tradition that arose close to the source, whatever label its subsequent critics and detractors gave it, must be regarded as having significance historically when attempting to identify the true nature of that source. In the context of tracing Peter back to his roots, be they factual or apocryphal, examples of this tradition therefore cannot be dismissed. If they portray a man whose implied character deviates fundamentally from the one implied in that which is now considered canonical scripture then it should simply be regarded as valuable insight into the historical reasons behind formulating the canonical body of writing and excluding others from the same general period. These texts were assessed on the basis of their theological content, not their historical accuracy.

In this respect Peter, as I said before, appears to have been regarded much more as a malleable entity than other attributed players in the formation of the early church. Why this might be so is certainly open to debate but paleographically and philologically it detracts from, rather than contributes to, certainty with regard to any one version being historically dependable to the extent that the man's character, or even his core theological beliefs, can be reliably adduced.

The so-called "Agnostic Apocalypse of Peter" is available online via several sources, some hostile and some which lend it tentative paleographical respect. This one presents the extant text in translation dispassionately: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/apocalypsepeter-roberts.html
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Sat 18 Jan 2014, 11:02

Points taken.

We are, of course, approaching this from different viewpoints: you, appropriately, from that of the dispassionate historian, I from that of what Peter (or whoever) in 1 Peter calls "an alien and stranger in this world" - someone struggling to make sense of the heartbreaking and often quite ridiculous predicament we all find ourselves in. I can't go along you see with that Dawkinesque advert on the side of a London bus about there probably being no God, so stop fretting and "enjoy your life" - such a naïve and patronising pronouncement by the atheists - don't they understand the first noble truth - "Life is suffering"? The character of Peter - mythical or real - surely invites us to consider that challenging observation from the Buddhists.

But talking of ridiculous predicaments, what on earth are we to make of this famous picture by Caravaggio: The Crucifixion of Saint Peter? I find it terribly disturbing, but then I suppose I'm meant to. Link to an interesting analysis (below) by Michael Glover of the Independent.




http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/great-works/great-works-crucifixion-of-st-peter-1601-230cm-x-175cm-caravaggio-6259925.html


PS The balloons are a nice touch:

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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Sat 18 Jan 2014, 11:15

The atheist publicity campaign has no bearing I can see on the subject in hand. I'd go further and say that for me whether a Christian god exists or not or could be proven either way does not in any way detract from my interest in tracing the historical foundations of the church that promoted the belief. The history of the Christian faith is essentially a human story, centred not on the personalities of the characters at the centre of the myth cycle it has generated but on the actual people who have contributed in a major way to its (and these characters') existence as valid conceptual entities; including their motives, their rationale, their actions and above all their context.

No worthwhile analysis of the narrative's characters can in fact be conducted apart from analysis of the recorders, inventors, interpreters and promulgators of the myth's elements. This is not just true for Christianity. It applies to absolutely all historical study of myth.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Sat 18 Jan 2014, 11:32

@nordmann wrote:
I'd go further and say that for me whether a Christian god exists or not or could be proven either way does not in any way detract from my interest in tracing the historical foundations of the church that promoted the belief.


Nor mine.



@nordmann wrote:
The history of the Christian faith is essentially a human story...


Of course it is. So is the Christian faith. That's why it makes such sense to so many people.

@nordmann wrote:
No worthwhile analysis of the narrative's characters can be conducted apart from analysis of the recorders.


Isn't that true of all historical writing?

But, as ever, I am completely out of my depth when trying to argue with you, nordmann - unlike Tim, I admit I find you a fearsome opponent. I actually don't want to argue and score points - just discuss an interesting subject. Anyway I repeat: "Go in peace - seek out your salvation with diligence." I'm going to seek mine in Sainsbury's now.

But your comments on the Caravaggio  St. Peter would be very welcome, but perhaps, like my mention of the atheist bus, not an appropriate topic here on Priscilla's thread.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Sat 18 Jan 2014, 11:38

The Caravaggio St Peter popped up years ago in an exam I did (art history, relating Caravaggio's themes to his personal biography). I've just had a vivid flashback which brought me back to the examination hall. I need a drink ...

I am not an opponent, fearsome or cuddly like Peter Littlejohn. I am merely attempting to avoid confusing theological debate with historical. I like them both but find they mix badly.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Sat 18 Jan 2014, 14:58

A most interesting thread here. tho'  nordmann and Temp, and I thank you both for enriching so it. I had not seen the Caravaggio crucifixion of St Peter before - it's astonishing on several counts. Where is it exhibited? As for blatant atheists,, they are much like low life flourishing after world wars when many sacrificed all for their rights - where would  atheists be, had it it not been for people of genuine humble faith who paved the way a reasonably stable and safe structure in which  life might be enjoyed?  Of course moral  law stemming from classical roots was not faith related but there can be no denying that People of the Book have been a real influence. Now I shall get back in my little simple  box.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Sat 18 Jan 2014, 17:52

At the risk of being labelled a "blatant atheist" (which in some people's minds is seemingly no different from a "militant atheist") I'd better just shut up.

When historical debate excites such "blatant" claptrap it's not worth the candle.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Sat 18 Jan 2014, 18:26

@nordmann wrote:
At the risk of being labelled a "blatant atheist" (which in some people's minds is seemingly no different from a "militant atheist") I'd better just shut up.

When historical debate excites such "blatant" claptrap it's not worth the candle.


I've just nipped in to post a link about the Caravaggio for Priscilla and I am dismayed to read the above. I'm not sure if "blatant claptrap" refers to my posts, or Priscilla's last, or to the comments of us both. I feel this - dare I use the dreaded word - this hint of a right royal huff is all my fault because of my mention of the atheist bus and balloons - which was, I am afraid, nothing to do with Peter. I wasn't getting at you, nordmann - well, not really - it's just  I'd been reading about something Dawkins had written and he always makes me  foam at the mouth, especially when I'm losing an argument - or not understanding it properly. But the bus reference was inappropriate here. Sorry - OK?

So, mes petit(e)s, as MM would say, can we please resume where we left off, leaving religion out of it? We are supposed to be discussing Saint Peter, after all  Smile.  ( I for one was finding it all very interesting, even if I was floundering rather with the history/philosophy bit.)

Here's a discussion about the Caravaggio. Note the bit about how C. chose his model for Saint Peter: "Caravaggio just went out into the street and got a guy." Exactly right  for Peter, surely? If I have time later (and if we are all still talking to one another), I'll post something else about those dreadful executioners grunting and sweating as they toil to lift up their terrible burden: they look as though they are raising up a fence-post, or heaving up the joist of a house into place - such terrible callousness - "insensitive to the point of insentience".

http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/crucifixion-of-st.-peter.html

EDIT: Sunday morning -  thought I might as well dig my little hole a bit deeper.


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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Sat 18 Jan 2014, 18:33

Please don't, this blatant atheist is finding it much too interesting. I keep trying to frame questions but then my thinking gets so convoluted that that they don't make sense, even to me.


The Peter of the Apocalypse feels to me to be much more like one of  the fire brand, trouble making Jewish revisionists that I imagine the early proponents of what is now Christianity to have been rather than anyone complicit in converting the vengeful god of the Jews into the CEO of Google that is often paraded for reverence. Co-incidentally yesterday I listened to a programme interviewing a woman who had suffered from severe psychotic episodes and she recounted a hallucination where she met God. Asking him, "What's religion all about?", he replied " Just be nice".

And please note, I'm not suggesting that all adherents are psychotic any more than all atheists are low life - as I'm sure you did not intend to imply P.


Crossed posts - I haven't read yours Temp. My machine is playing up and on a go slow.


addendum: some adherents definitely are though viz the UKIP councillor who has declared that the floods are due to Cameron's support for gay marriage.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Sat 18 Jan 2014, 19:03

@ferval wrote:
...some adherents definitely are though viz the UKIP councillor who has declared that the floods are due to Cameron's support for gay marriage.


Richard Lane, spokesman for the gay rights charity Stonewall, told MailOnline: 'Its hardly surprising that we've seen unusual weather patterns in Britain, considering the enormous amount of hot air being produced by some UKIP members'.   Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Sat 18 Jan 2014, 19:24

Well no surprise here, I'm going to disagree on the Caravaggio. What immediately stands out (for me anyway) is that Peter's body is too padded and muscled for that of an old man and looks extremely out of place with the worn and aged face. Caravaggio has done a brilliant job on Peter's face, but falls short with the body, did he use two models? One younger and one older perhaps?
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Sat 18 Jan 2014, 20:26



Interesting point. But Michelangelo's Peter has the same stocky fisherman's body - fatter, but just as strong. No weak, withered, pathetic old man, this dying Peter. Defiant and strong, even in his agony.

The colours here should be beautiful, but they are not; rather they are, but in an oddly disturbing, vivid, nightmarish way.  This is a surreal scene - almost like one from "Peter's" own Apocalypse. Caravaggio's sombre, humble, earthy browns - ochre and umber - work better; they are more realistic and appropriate, and contrast superbly with the light that surrounds Peter as he is elevated - literally and spiritually. Caravaggio apparently at first refused to use any ultramarine (Cerasi, his patron, specified he wanted the very expensive tints) at all in his picture, and only reluctantly agreed to mix a muted, murkily shadowed ultramarine for Peter's robe. Here's Graham-Dixon's comment on this "toned-down" (Bellori's term) effect: "The lives of Christ and his followers were neither rich nor splendid. Their deaths were brutal. Caravaggio insists on these home truths in every detail of the Cerasi Chapel paintings..."


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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Sun 19 Jan 2014, 00:07

As ferv, says, of course I meant no applied implication - and I was startled by the reaction to words - the aforementioned claptrap, I assume, I was about to edit out because of over simplification and no explanation..... and so will not dig a deeper hole by attempting that now. I had always sort of assumed that historians were agnostic because   presented 'truths' and what they find from research never quite adds up.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Sun 19 Jan 2014, 15:07

I'm enjoying reading this thread - and it's through ignorance that I have nothing much to say.

But I do have a question .... I know this is really Peter's thread .... but did Paul ever actually meet Christ, historically I mean?  It's just that I can't recall anything in the scriptures that says Paul, although a contemporary of Jesus, ever saw, met, spoke, or wrote to him.

Or am I completely wrong?

PS:

I'm on much surer ground speaking about art ... and that's saying nothing! But...

I do find Caravaggio's "Conversion on the way to Damascus" rather disturbing. Beautifully done but ... maybe just a bit too much 'horse-bum-in face':



And didn't Durer also do some woodcuts from a very similar horse-bum veiwpoint...  from memory, 'the stricken groom" or something like that"... ?

But sorry, mea culpa,  .... I'm diverting the thread.


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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Sun 19 Jan 2014, 15:33

No , MM, not a diversion. Temps was getting interested in the Peter/Paul relationship but for which we may lack info if nordmann does not soon pick up the hastily knitted BA award  he  claims awarded  him - nice sulky blue sort of colour - and enlighten us.
re Paul; I was converted to boats when I fell off a horse; each to his own. For all of that, Cravaggio always sets himself some great challenges in foreshortening, composition and angled lighting. I suppose you would if you were less convinced by the topic than the completion fee. IMO, Paul is a most annoying chappy.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Sun 19 Jan 2014, 15:38

In my innocence, I wanted to think Caravaggio was speaking to/for the peasants and the labourers of his world with that great beast of burden - an animal rather like the dumb creatures of the nativity scene - the benign ox, the humble donkey, the patient cattle. But no, it was apparently a dig at his rival, Carracci. Here's Graham-Dixon (Caravaggio's biographer) again:

"As a parting gesture to his rival, as if to stress the depth of his disdain for Carracci's brand of vapid magnificence, Caravaggio contrived a cunning insult: the rump of St. Paul's proletarian* carthorse is pointedly turned towards Carracci's Assumption of the Virgin."

* Oh hurrah - I was right about it being a working-class horse.

Caravaggio did a good bottom; that one in The Crucifixion of Saint Peter is no doubt there for a purpose.

No, Paul had never met the flesh-and-blood Christ.

I would like to ask a question or two about the Great Row between Peter and Paul, but will leave it for now.

Crossed post, P. Haven't read yours yet.
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PostSubject: Re: Saint Peter   Sun 19 Jan 2014, 16:26



This is the painting that Caravaggio was dissing with that horse's huge - er- posterior. Carracci has rather made the Blessed Virgin float like an weightless astronaut in a space shuttle flight, which is an unfortunate effect. This from Wiki:

The second is from 1600-1601 and is in the famous Cerasi Chapel of the church of Santa Maria del Popolo of Rome. Carracci competed with the major artists for this altarpiece, the prize commission for the chapel. It is however one of his less satisfactory arrangements. The Virgin awkwardly rises through a cramped crowd of apostles, levitated by half-a dozen cherubim.

The canvas was somewhat overshadowed by the two famous contemporary paintings by Caravaggio on the side walls of the chapel: the The Conversion of Saint Paul on the Road to Damascus and The Crucifixion of Saint Peter. While both painters were important in the development of Baroque art, the contrast is striking: Carracci's Virgin glows with light, but St. Paul is surrounded by menacing shadows and figures.


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