God the Father. 1654. Cima da Conegliano

Today’s topic is faces. Faces of God, faces of Emperor. The texts are Exodus 33:12-23 (Moses asks to see the Lord, or the Lord’s glory; YHWH concedes); Matthew 22:15-22 (Render unto Caesar).

As you might imagine, depictions of God in art tend toward the old man in the clouds imagery, like this one, God the Father, 1654, by Cima da Conegliano. It makes sense really; how do you depict something that is so great we can’t even see it without exploding (or whatever it was the Bible said would happen)? But these are depictions of one aspect of the Trinity – God the Father. So they’re on the same level as depicting Jesus, God the Son, or God the Holy Spirit.

God in God’s fullness, the Godhead (I still think that’s a weird word), is undepictable. However I do take issue with something said by Leslie Klingensmith in Feasting on the Word’s lectionary reading (Year A, 21st Sunday after Pentecost):

“I realize even more how ultimately incomprehensible God is. Language is a woefully inadequate tool for describing God, but nevertheless it is the tool at our disposal.”

No, Leslie, we also have art.

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