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Bill Thayer

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Jesus is Presented in His Father's House

22 "And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord . . . 24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. 25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon . . . 27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, 28 Then he took him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation . . ."

Gospel according to Luke, ch. 2 (King James Version)

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Simeon is all motion and urgency; another old man sitting in the Temple quietly reads his book — a medieval anachronism by the way, since the codex form (our bound book with pages) didn't appear till the 2c: it should be a scroll.

In another medieval touch, though the Gospel clearly puts both of Jesus's parents at the Temple, here Joseph is nowhere to be seen: the artists and writers of the Middle Ages do often give the impression of finding Joseph's unclear or even ambiguous rôle somewhat of an embarrassment. His absence is all the more striking that the sculptor has carefully included the turtledoves — carried by Elizabeth, whom we recognize from the Visitation.

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Page updated: 20 Jul 14