Friday, June 15, 2007


Just finished the latest set of Bible pictures. It's a new version of the 'Zacchaeus' story. Click here for more details.

On the website I was not only able to find a photo of a sycamore tree for reference, but a sycamore tree in Jericho! (Thanks Todd).

We are not told Zacchaeus' age, but I've pictured him around his late thirties. Old enough to have accumulated some wealth, but still young enough to climb a tree!

There are four pictures in this set which brings our total Bible picture count to 676! This story almost completes the first of our 'Bible Exhibition' stands. There will be six in total.

Posts on other Bible stories
Blind Bartimaeus
The Rich Young Rular
Crucifixion part 1
Crucifixion part 2
On the road to Emmaus
The Nativity
Raising Lazarus
Woman taken in Adultery


Horseman said...

That is a really good one. The shadow of the tree on Jesus is a nice touch. Like the length of Messiah's beard too.

Do you think that the talis (prayer shawl) that the Jews had during the time of Jesus had the distinctive stripes that we see today - or was that a latter development?

Bible artist said...

Yes, I think they did have the stripes. I do illustrate the stripes on the prayer shawls of the pharisees and sadducees, although I am also aware that there is some symbolism attached to these stripes also, and that the order, width and number of these stripes will have some significance. So I do worry a little when I add the stripes without this background knowledge. I really need to find out.

I suspect that there may be another underlying question behind your first one:
Should the Lord Jesus have stripes on his prayer shawl?

I did notice that you have added stripes on the prayer shawl of the Lord Jesus in your 'Tempt the Messiah' graphic novel. I think that you are probably right in doing so. You will see from the write up below that He would have worn one. Did it have stripes? Very possibly yes.

Did all prayer shawls have stripes? I need to find out, I'll come back to you on this one.
Below is an excerpt about the prayer shawl from Anne Puntin's excellent book 'The world Jesus knew'
You might find it helpful.

Anyone attending an orthodox synagogue today will see that the men are all wearing prayer shawls. These are large squares of cream material bordered with black stripes and with long tassels at the four corners. They throw them around the shoulders and flick up the sides to form a kind of cape. In progressive synagogues the prayer shawl is a narrow stole but it still has the important feature, namely, four tassels.

The history of this garment, if such it can be called, goes back to Moses. Because of one man's disobedience, God commanded the people to put fringes with a thread of blue on their clothes to remind them that they must obey His law [Numbers 15:32-41]. From this injunction and through various stages of development comes the modern prayer shawl or tallit worn by Jewish people in the synagogue today.

Traditionally, the dye for the blue thread came from a rare sea mollusc which made it expensive. Lydia, one of Paul's converts in Philippi, was in the purple dye trade which may have been the same business [Acts 16:14]. No blue is used in the tassel nowadays as the exact shade is not known.

Indigo dye was cheaper and it was hard to tell the difference but the authorities condemned its use. Quite recently some Israeli archaeologists found prayer shawls belonging to the soldiers of Bar Cochba who led a rebellion against Rome in 131-135 CE. They were surprised to discover, on analysis, that the dye was indigo.

We are not sure how the tassel was made in Jesus' day. Today it consists of four long strands threaded through each corner hole and then doubled over to make eight. One strand is longer than the others. It is wound thirty nine times around the remaining seven with five knots interspersed at equal intervals. All this is symbolic.

Thirty nine stands for the books of the Jewish Bible, known to Christians as the Old Testament. Five symbolises the books of the Torah. The Hebrew word for a tassel is tzitzit. As all Hebrew letters have a numerical value, those of the word tzitzit add up to six hundred. This plus the eight threads and five knots makes six hundred and thirteen, the traditional number of commandments in the Torah. Modern Judaism delights in calculations of such complexity.

In New Testament times, ordinary people only wore a tallit on special occasions, if at all. It was the Pharisees who seem to have worn it regularly and, apparently in some cases, often for show. Jesus expresses no disapproval of the custom itself but he does condemn the extra long fringes which they affected to display their piety [Matthew 23:5]. Despite this, he must sometimes have worn one himself as the story of the woman who touched the hem of his garment suggests [Luke 8:43, 44]. Were they the ritual tassles that she touched? Other people, too, were healed by touching the borders or tassles of his clothes [Mark 6:56].

Horseman said...

I had a Jewish artist point out to me that my stripes were wrong. He did not elaborate on the specifics of why. I explained to him that I used an old Mexican blanket as reference. I have tried several times to get an old Jewish talis (or prayer shawl) for reference, but could not find one. I did read that some Jews have a plain one (without stripes). Considering that the stripes mean things that we do not know about, perhaps it is better to not have them. Further, you and I both know that most people do not care about all this little details - but a few of us love these little details ^_^

Bible artist said...

I know, maybe we should get out more!

Paul Green said...

I like your latest illustration Graham. The dappled effect of the shadow really works.
Regarding accuracy of detail - I think it's an impossible task to be 100% accurate and in some ways irrelevant to the central message of the illustrations. The average person reacts to the overall effect of the illustration. A weak illustration that is 99% accurate in historical detail is far less effective than an illustration that may only be 90% accurate in detail but moves you to read the gospel passage it illustrates.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't strive for total accuracy. It just means the power of an illustration lies in the way it affects us emotionally and not in the fine detail.

Bible artist said...

This is absolutely right of course, and I need to keep reminding myself of this.

Unknown said...

I'm very thankful to the author for posting such an amazing post..!
college essays