Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Mark, Evangelist

Often symbolized by the winged lion, Mark, identified
with the writer of the Gospel of Mark, is also revered as the founder of Christian churches in Africa. The Coptic Church especially honors him as its founder.

Both the Coptic and the Orthodox Churches remember him as the first Patriarch of Alexandria.

This first image is a fair-skinned Western one, with the lion hovering over Mark rather than standing in for him.

And here is a darker-skinned and Byzantine image from a biblical manuscript originating in Sicily or Southern Italy.

The Coptic style of iconography, especially the older paintings, has the flat, wide-eyed faces as do many of the Byzantine icons. The wide eye represents the spiritual gaze on the world. I only found two Coptic icons of Mark --one was a contemporary one-- and I decided not to put them up here. (Apologies to the Evangelist and no offense intended to icon-writers.)

I have two senior thesis conversations (the department decided "defense" sounded too militaristic), one this morning and one this afternoon, and a dance performance to attend this evening ('tis the season for college students to strut their stuff and for us to celebrate their accomplishments), so for good words on Mark, visit Padre Mickey's Dance Party. (Mark has long been my favorite Gospel, too, though I try not to play favorites, and there are a few scenes in the Gospel of John I wouldn't trade for anything. I love Mark's starkness. And then there are all those interesting contemporary interpretations, e.g. Ched Myers's.)

Here's a wonderful contemporaryAustralian aboriginal- or African-looking Mark the Evangelist.


Catherine + said...

What a wonderful and refreshing article on icons. I enjoy them immensely and love the ones you have selected here, Jane.



Jane R said...

Thanks, Catherine! I did a bunch of art and icon research in order to find just the right ones. Glad you enjoyed them!