by Carol L. Rizzolo, Ph.D., Introduction by Tom Singer
One of the things that makes this paper so interesting and valuable is that it explores the crucifixion, the central symbolic image of the Christian experience, in an unusual context. In this study, the cruifixion is viewed through the eyes of Jewish painters who can be seen as reflecting on the intractable historical reality and psychological cultural complex of anti-semitism at the heart of which is the belief that the Jews are “Christ’s killers.”
– Tom Singer
An excerpt from The Image of Crucifixion: An exploration of the relationship of Jewish artists to the Passion of Christ by Carol L. Rizzolo, Ph.D.:
On March 28, 2008, The New York Times published the following article:
An Artist From Russia Disappears in Berlin: A prominent [Jewish] artist who had run-ins with both the church and state in her native Russia after taking part in a controversial exhibition has disappeared without a trace from her home. Ms. Mikhalchuk took part in Caution! Religion, a 2003 exhibition at Moscow’s Andrei Sakharov Museum that opponents called blasphemous.(A6)
Regarding this incident, newspapers reported that men from an Orthodox church in Moscow ransacked the museum and destroyed many of the works on display. Ms. Mikhalchuk was fined by the Russian government and sentenced to two years in prison for her work. Among her “offensive images” was a re-imaging of the crucifixion; Ms. Mikhalchuk had painted a crucified woman.
Early in the twentieth century, the Russian Jewish artist Marc Chagall painted the first of his many images of the crucifixion. In 1933, the Nazi regime in Germany had all works by Chagall taken down from museums and burned. Jewish artists working with the image of the crucifixion are noteworthy for their rarity, but more importantly, they are noteworthy for the personal risk they take when re-imaging Christian icons. As common as Old Testament themes are in the works of Jewish and Christian artists alike, Jews rarely depict images of themes from The New Testament.
Since as long ago as 332 AD, in the time of Constantine, Christianity has carried with it the shadow of political perversion. Tragically, many “non-believers” have died horrible deaths as a result of political distortion of the sacred. Jews as well as other non-Christians were murdered in the name of Christianity, and yet this Christianity was not the Christianity preached by the historic Jesus. Rather, it was the misapplication of something beautiful for the purpose of political gain. Jews living in a Christian world must, by virtue of the world in which they exist, have some relationship with Christianity and with the image of Christ.
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