Healing of the Paralytic, Dura Europos (c.235)

This wall painting, depicting the Healing of the Paralytic, is the earliest known representation of Jesus, dating from about 235 AD.

The painting was found in 1921 on the left-hand wall of the baptismal chamber of the house-church at Dura-Europos on the Euphrates River in modern Syria.

It is now part of the Dura Europos collection at the Yale University Gallery of Fine Arts.

On the right, the paralytic is on his bed. Top center, Christ is saying, "That you may know that the Son of Man has power to forgive sins: rise up, take up your bed and walk."

On the left, the man takes his bed (a cot-like couch) and walks away. This story is appropriate for a baptismal chamber, in that it represents the forgiveness of sins.

To this right of this scene, Christ is stretching his arm out to Peter, saving him from the waves of the sea.

The figure of Jesus in this fresco, the oldest we know, is a type of the Teacher. He wears a tunic and pallium and sandals on his feet, he has close-cropped hair, and his face is that of a youthful, distinguished intellectual.


Source

  1. F. van der Meer, trans. P. and F. Brown, Early Christian Art (London: Faber and Faber, 1967), 127.

More Information

  • Susan B. Matheson, Dura-Europos: The Ancient City and the Yale Collection (1982).
  • The Excavations at Dura-Europos, Preliminary and Final Reports. New Haven: Yale University Press; Los Angeles: University of California Press; Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1929–2001.
  • Yale University Art Gallery


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Healing of the Paralytic, Dura Europos
earliest depiction of Jesus, oldest picture of Christ, Dura Europos