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The Ram and the Shroud of Turin

August 23, 2011

imageI’ve always enjoyed symbols as metaphors. They are, at least, food for thought. This one, The Shroud Of Turin And The Symbolism Of The Ram Caught In The Bramble Bush is from the Shroud of Turin News blog:

Abraham saw a Ram with its horns caught in a bramble bush. This ram was then sacrificed as a burnt offering on the altar, by Abraham and Isaac. Now, here was Abraham willing to sacrifice his much wanted and loved son, Isaac, so why would not God hesitate to let his own son, Jesus be sacrificed, as the Lamb, as suggested in the Jewish prophecies that Jehovah  would provide a sacrifice. Besides this, Abraham knew that God had promised him plenty of grandsons through Isaac. So Abraham knew that God would not let Isaac be killed. He also knew that this action showed that he trusted in God enough to be willing to sacrifice his most precious son, Isaac on God’s command. So, the Lamb of God’s forehead was symbolically covered with cruel thorns before he was sacrificed on the Cross to save mankind. The thorns are definitely not in the shape of a crown, as seen in paintings, but are more like one and a half inch long bramble thorns gathered from the roadside and placed in a really rough fashion on the forehead and scalp of Jesus. These cruel marks can be seen on the shroud of Turin, even today.

My favorite symbol as metaphor is of the angels in the tomb that perhaps represent the golden cherubim on the cover of the Ark of the Covenant. This is how Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury put it in his book, On Christian Theology:

For the cherubim flanking the ark define a space where God would be if God were anywhere (the God of Judah is the one who sits between the cherubim or even ‘dwells’ between the cherubim); but there is no image between the cherubim. . . . And if John does mean us to catch an allusion here, we must suppose that it is to this non-representable, non-possible dimension of the paradoxical manifestation of God to God’s people: it may even connect with the stories of non-recognition which John and his editor or continuator in the final chapter of the gospel as we have it clearly find so fertile a ground for narrative meditation. But whatever was in the evangelist’s mind, the space between the angels is no bad metaphor for a number of features of the tomb tradition that should concentrate our minds theologically.

I remember having long discussions with Fr. Kim Dreisbach about this notion. We might even think of the two images on the shroud in a similar way or think of John’s angels being inspired representations the images on the shroud.

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  1. August 24, 2011 at 11:54 am
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