Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Angel of the Akedah at Chartres Cathedral

I often lecture on the representation of Genesis 22, the Near Sacrifice of Isaac, in Jewish and Christian art, where it has such central significance. The extraordinary image of the Akedah at Chartres Cathedral on the north porch, central bay, is one of my favorites. Until now, however, I have not been able to find a good image of the angel, although I've always pointed out that he is in the space above Melchizedek's head to the left of Abraham, and in the line of sight of both the ancestor and his son, Isaac.

I'm very pleased to have finally found a great image of the angel! Click the image below to enlarge. Pretty neat, no?

Update (3/2/2024), Detail photo courtesy Zsuzsanna Sóti, Hungary 


Anonymous Anonymous said...


This is a stunning piece. I'm especially impressed by the economic use of space to maintain the vertical orientation. Do you think that the adjacent sculptures suggest any intertextual connections with Genesis 22?

Just this week, I showed a series of artistic representations of the Akedah in my intro Hebrew Bible class. I'd love to trade notes sometimes about the different works that we use.


Sun Sep 21, 05:56:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Hi Blake, and many thanks for the comments. I believe that the adjacent figures each hold some symbol held to represent or prefigure the atonement in some way. Of course, the Akedah itself has long had this symbolic value within Christianity. And yes, it would be great fun to trade notes on this. The Dome of the Rock, Beit Alpha, Dura Europas, and Rembrandt are among my most favorite highlights in this. Best, ---SLC

Sun Sep 21, 08:09:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Steve, thank you for this image. I am writing my thesis on Aqedah, and therefore interested in exploring this sculpture. Would you know what does the inscription say above the angel? On other images I saw letters but could not figure out - suppose it would cite from the biblical text correspondingly, but I am curious which part of it was accentuated - for my thesis it would be helpful understanding which aspect of the Aqedah was being explored in that time. Thank you for your response in advanced!

Thu Feb 29, 05:49:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

i’m having trouble seeing letters on the images that I have. If you have clear images, I’d be happy to take a look at them. Feel free to send them to me if you’d like, SCook @

Fri Mar 01, 10:01:00 AM GMT-5  

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