[Milton-L] Blake's winged God [WAS: somewhat off topic art question]

rpyoder at ualr.edu rpyoder at ualr.edu
Wed Jan 2 07:50:38 EST 2008

I doubt that you will find a winged Christ in Blake's work.  Blake commonly depicts angels and demons, and it is even possible to categorize winged-creatures by whether they have bat-wings (bad, in general) or feathers (good, in general).  But for Blake, the whole point of the incarnation is that Christ is human in every sense, and for Blake the dynamic of the incarnation is not a lowering of the divine to human standards, but a redefinition of the human as divine.  As he puts it at the end of "There is NO Natural Religion" [b]:  "God becomes as we are / that we may be as he / is."  Everything about being human is now by definition "Christ-like."

Blake's theology develops over this lifetime, but in general he does distinguish between Christ and the being who created Adam and Eve (or at least the concept of Adam and Eve).  That being -- and the pictures bear this out -- is a sort of composite of the Elohim you mention and Blake's Urizen.  As Elohim, he sometimes does have wings, partly because he imagines himself angelic (or is imagined to be so).  On the other hand,  Christ, for Blake, IS the imagination, whose role is to create community among people and ideas, at least in part by imagining the possibility of unconditional forgiveness.  He is fully human, or at least the human at its full potential.  I can't think of any Blakean images (visual or textual) depicting Christ with wings.

For what it's worth.


----- Original Message -----
From: Larisa Kocic-Zambo <larisa at lit.u-szeged.hu>
Date: Wednesday, January 2, 2008 5:03 am
Subject: [Milton-L] Blake's winged God [WAS: somewhat off topic art question]
To: 'John Milton Discussion List' <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>

> Dear Cynthia,
> I haven't yet come across a winged Christ in Blake, but I am no Blake
> scholar either. However, I know he has a large color printing 
> called "Elohim
> creating Adam" (see link below), that represents God with wings:
> http://blake-
> dev.lib.unc.edu/exist/blake/archive/object.xq?objectid=but327.1.cprint.04&java=yes
> I have always been fascinated by this picture, especially when 
> compared to
> his "Satan Exulting Over Eve"
> (http://blake-
> dev.lib.unc.edu/exist/blake/archive/object.xq?objectid=but327.1.cprint.24&java=yes). 
> The Blake Archive hosted on http://blake-
> dev.lib.unc.edu/blake/index.html is
> so huge, that, who knows, one might easily come along a winged 
> Christ as
> well. I certainly will be looking for it. Your query made me curious.
> If you happen to find one, please let me know too.
> Thank you,
> Larisa
> ---- Original message ----
> >Date: Tue,  1 Jan 2008 13:40:57 -0500 (EST)
> >From: <gilliaca at jmu.edu> >Subject: somewhat off topic art question  
> >To: milton-l at listerv.richmond.edu
> >
> >"... in his WINGS?"
> >
> >I asked this on another list, and someone suggested that 
> William Blake had
> several images of a winged Jesus, as did Renaissance paintings. 
> >
> >I've emailed our excellent young Romanticist to ask about 
> Blake, about whom
> I am woefully ignorant.
> >
> >I'm asking folks on this list - many of whom have knowledge 
> both broad and
> deep of Renaissance art - about winged Jesus images. I can't 
> conjur any up,
> but my knowledge is pretty casual.
> >
> >And a Happy New Year to all of my esteemed friends on this list!
> >
> >C
> Cynthia A. Gilliatt
> English Department, JMU
> JMU Safe Zones participant
> "You have made God in your own image when God hates the same 
> people you
> hate." Fr. John Weston
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R. Paul Yoder
Associate Professor
English Department
2801 S. University
Little Rock, AR  72204-1099
Phone:  501.569.8321
FAX:  501.569.8185
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