Crucifix as Theological Statement

I am currently writing a paper for my Late Middle Ages class about the role of the crucifix. The picture is the crucifix I specifically chose to use for this project. It is on display at the Cleveland Museum of Art. This piece was crafted and used during the middle of the 12th century. I am looking forward to this topic because to be honest there is much more than meets the eye…especially for art within Christendom. I have been reading about the different stages of crucifixes from the 4th or 5th century when they first were used, until the 12th century. The most fascinating thing about this for me was the theology that was and is necessary in creating such a piece. Each little tilt of the head, or eye opened, actually meant something to the people who were fashioning these pieces. It was not enough just to create a crucifix and a corpus that simply looked good, but one that was aligned with what they thought to be orthodox. In this particular piece, Christ has his eyes closed, looks peaceful, and has a circlet instead of a crown of thorns. In years preceding this piece, Christ could have looked like a King with gold and elaborate clothing on a crucifix or in the pictures. The preceding centuries were vastly different in their lack of humanization of Christ. The piece that I am looking at is the beginning stages of Christ becoming “human” to the people who worshipped him. Christianity as a whole was being revisioned and reformed into a faith that became about God identifying with humanity. Christianity was no longer just for the religious professionals in the middle ages but for all humanity. This crucifix is representation of that reality in the middle ages.

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