[Milton-L] Re: the wings again

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 2 14:18:11 EST 2008

Cynthia A. Gilliatt wrote:
  "...more likely than Wesley being influenced by Blake or Renaissance paintings -- which seem more or less devoid of winged Jesus."
  While Roy Flannagan may be correct that the figure in the vision of St. Francis is not Christ but an angel (the seraph-like figure), I think that stating that Renaissance paintings are devoid of a 'winged Jesus' might be too hasty a conclusion. Take a look at these Medieval and Renaissance images (starting with the one that we've all seen, and hoping that all of these links work):
  Stigmatization of St Francis (Giotto di Bondone, fresco cycle in the Upper Basilica of St. Francis, in Assisi, Italia, 1297-1300)
  St Francis Receiving the Stigmata (Artist not identified)
  Stigmatization of St Francis (Jan van Eyck, 1428-29)
  The Stigmatization of St. Francis (Stained glass window, Cappella Baroncelli, Santa Croce, Florence)
  Stigmatisation of Saint Francis (Fresco, Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence, 1325)
  Stigmatization of St Francis (Giotto di Bondone, Tempera on wood, Musée du Louvre, Paris, 1300)
  The Stigmatization of St Francis (Pieter Pauwel Rubens, Oil on Canvas, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne, c. 1616)
  Even if the figure giving St. Francis the stigmata in the original vision is correctly interpreted as a seraph that has taken on the form of the crucified Christ, the aesthetic force of the images would be to reinforce the impression that a winged Christ appeared to St. Francis.
  All that being shown and said, I doubt that Charles Wesley was influenced by any depiction of St. Francis receiving the stigmata. Rather, he was almost certainly referencing Malachi 4.2:
  "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall." (Malachi 4.2)

  We see a double reference in these lines of Wesley's hymn:
  Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
  Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
  Light and life to all he brings,
  Risen with healing in his wings.
  There's surely no need to look to a tradition of depictions of a winged Christ in Medieval and Renaissance art (or in Blake) for a source behind Wesley's imagery.
  I am, however, glad that the question was posed, for I might otherwise never have become of aware of this fascinating series of artworks depicting a extraordinary winged Christ . . . or perhaps an ordinary winged seraph who happens to be crucified and looks exactly like Christ.
  Jeffery Hodges

University Degrees:

Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
(Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts")
M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University

Email Address:

jefferyhodges at yahoo.com



Office Address:

Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
School of English, Kyung Hee University
1 Hoegi-dong, Dongdaemun-gu
Seoul, 130-701
South Korea

Home Address:

Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
Gunyoung Apt. 102-204
Sangbong-dong 1
Seoul 131-771
South Korea
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