Praying Christian Painting
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Praying Christian Painting
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Christian Praying FigureDr Michael Green (1930-present) the author and evangelist in "Evangelism in the Early Church" argued that the similarity of the pagan type of praying pagan figure to the praying Christian figure in a wall painting would allow it to go unchallenged by most visitors to the home. But the Christian would immediately recognize the praying Christian at once and the pagan acquaintance interested enough to enquire about its peculiarities would provide his host with an ideal opportunity of explaining the Christian faith to him. At Dura-Europos, a Roman frontier fortress town in the Syrian desert, one house church building has actually survived and may be visited today. Archaeologists discovered it under the sand in 1934. The house was built before 100 AD but we do not know when Christians first used it as their meeting place, but in about 232 AD the building was altered and made more suitable for services.

Paintings in Baptistery

Woman at WellAfter the alterations, there were paintings made in the plaster finishing on the baptistery walls including a praying Christian figure, and the paint remains for us to recognize the subjects, and see what prayer and baptism meant to those Christians eighteen centuries ago. The central picture shows the scene from John 10.14-16 of the Good Shepherd bringing a sheep to the flock. Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me just as the Father knows me and I know the Father and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." On the side walls were paintings of the healed paralytic both on his bed and carrying it from Mark 2.5., "When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.'" Jesus was also shown taking Peter from walking on the water into the boat from Matthew 14.31 "Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. 'You of little faith,' he said, 'why did you doubt?'" The woman with her water pot at Jacob's well was also illustrated with Jesus saying about the living water in John 4.10, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." Then we saw the three women at the empty tomb "As Christ was raised, we too walk in newness of life" and from Romans 6.4 "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." We need to remember that most people were illiterate in the early days and that paintings and later stained glass windows were one way of visually telling the stories of Jesus.

"Praying Christian Painting"
by Ron Meacock © 2018

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