Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Michael Pacher ca. 1435-1498
St Wolfgang Altarpiece: The Attempt to Stone Christ
Wood, 173 x 140,5 cm
Parish Church, Sankt Wolfgang

James Tissot (1836-1902).
The Jews Took Up Rocks to Stone Jesus (Les juifs prirent des pierres pour lapider Jésus), 1886-1896.
Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 6 1/8 x 8 1/4 in. (15.6 x 21 cm) Sheet: 6 1/8 x 8 1/4 in. (15.6 x 21 cm)
Frame: 15 x 20 x 1 1/2 in. (38.1 x 50.8 x 3.8 cm).
Brooklyn Museum, New York

"22 The feast of the Dedication was then taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter.
23 And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon.
24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly."
25 Jesus answered them, "I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father's name testify to me.
26 But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep.
27 My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.
29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father's hand.
30 The Father and I are one."
31 The Jews again picked up rocks to stone him.
32 Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?"
33 The Jews answered him, "We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God."
34 Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, "You are gods"'?
35 If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and scripture cannot be set aside,
36 can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?
37 If I do not perform my Father's works, do not believe me;
38 but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize (and understand) that the Father is in me and I am in the Father."
39 (Then) they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power.
40 He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained.
41 Many came to him and said, "John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true."
42 And many there began to believe in him."

(John Chapter 10 verses 22 -42)

The punishment for blasphemy was death by stoning.

This was the punishment meted out to Stephen. One of the prominent witnesses was Saul (later named Paul):

Fra Angelico ca. 1400-1455
The Stoning of St Stephen
Fresco, 326 x 236 cm
Cappella Niccolina, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican

"8 Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.
9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)— Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen,
10 but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.
11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God.
12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin.
13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law.
14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.
15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

1 Then the high priest asked him, Are these charges true?
2 To this he replied: Brothers and fathers, listen to me! ...

44Our forefathers had the tabernacle of the Testimony with them in the desert. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen.
45 Having received the tabernacle, our fathers under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David,
46 who enjoyed God's favour and asked that he might provide a dwelling-place for the God of Jacob.
47 But it was Solomon who built the house for him.
48 However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says:
49'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be?
50 Has not my hand made all these things?'
51You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!
52 Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—
53 you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.

54 When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.
55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
56 Look, he said, I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.
57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him,
58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, Lord, do not hold this sin against them. When he had said this, he fell asleep."

(Acts of the Apostles Chapter 6, verses 8 - 15; Chapter 7, verses 1-2, 44-60)