Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Domenichino on Genesis 3:8-24

On our SBL tour of the National Gallery we looked briefly at Domenichino's (Italian, 1581 - 1641) painting of "The Rebuke of Adam and Eve":

To appreciate the painting at all, you immediately have to get past the borrowing of God and God's entourage from the Sistine Chapel. It is best understood as an act of homage to Michelangelo.
What can we appreciate here? I agree with our SBL guide, Dr. Terrence Dempsey, that the best thing about this painting is the depiction of the blame game or the passing of the buck. You get the whole sequence of rationalizing and blaming as your eye moves from God in the upper right down to the snake in the lower left. The sequence brings a smile to the face and is immediately recognizable as all too completely human.

Recognizing the satire and humor in Genesis 3 is crucial, or you end up repeating the centuries old mistake of somehow blaming women for all the evil in the world. Adams' excuse before God in Gen 3:12 is not gospel truth but a lame attempt to avoid fessing up. "It was the woman." [Of course, always blame the woman.] "Whom you gave me!" [Of course, ultimately it's all God's fault.]
None of this holds any water for God, and God immediately pronounces judgment on all three characters involved, snakes, women, and men. Even the judgments on male and female are parallel, but that's another post...


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