Healing of the Paralytic, Dura Europos (c.235)

Adapted from F. van der Meer, trans. P. and F. Brown, Early Christian Art (London: Faber and Faber, 1967), 12

This wall painting, depicting the Healing of the Paralytic, is one of the earliest known representations of Jesus, dating from about 235 AD.

The painting was found in 1921 on the left-hand wall of the baptismal chamber of the house-church at Dura Europos on the Euphrates River in modern Syria.

It is now part of the Dura Europos collection at the Yale University Gallery of Fine Arts.

On the right, the paralytic is on his bed. Top center, Christ is saying, “That you may know that the Son of Man has power to forgive sins: rise up, take up your bed and walk.”

On the left, the man takes his bed (a cot-like couch) and walks away. This story is appropriate for a baptismal chamber, in that it represents the forgiveness of sins.

To this right of this scene, Christ is stretching his arm out to Peter, saving him from the waves of the sea.

The figure of Jesus in this fresco, one of the the oldest we know, is a type of the Teacher. He wears a tunic and pallium and sandals on his feet, he has close-cropped hair, and his face is that of a youthful, distinguished intellectual.

Author: Father Silouan Thompson

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