The “Crucifixion with Angels and Mourning Figures” Cover from the Lindau Gospels and the Gero Crucifix show different styles in which Jesus is depicted. One is plain and simple, while the other shows him garbed in luxury.
It is based on these contrasting aspects that this paper will examine both figures and attempt to determine what the comparisons and contrasts between the two symbolize.
Squalor versus luxury
One of the most obvious differences between the two figures is that one is a plain depiction of Jesus on a cross while the other is apparently made out of solid gold with various jewels and other precious metals placed throughout the cover.
One of the reasons behind this difference in depiction could be related to how they wished to portray the divinity of Jesus versus how they wanted to showcase the human suffering that Jesus went through on the cross.
One of the most striking dissimilarities between the two crucifixes is the fact that the Gero crucifix seems more “human” while the one from the Lindau Gospels seems to depict Jesus as more of a divine figure. For instance, when looking at the Gero crucifix it can be seen that Jesus apparently has a pot belly, his hair is in disarray, his facial hair does not look nicely trimmed and he is depicted as drooping from the cross.
Not only that, his skin color is dark and more reminiscent of the type of skin color that would have been prevalent during the time in which he was alive. Based on what I have learned from the lectures and books, this type of effect can be considered as intentionally “humanizing” the subject of the depiction in order to make them more relatable.
From a religious standpoint, the depiction of Jesus as having distinctly human qualities and tendencies makes it more appealing to common people since they can see themselves in Jesus (i.e. that he was a man as well). In contrast, the “Crucifixion with Angels and Mourning Figures” is more of a divine depiction of Jesus that has little in the way of realism.
For instance, the various “faults” (ex: the pot belly) that could be seen in the Gero Crucifix are absent. Thus, when looking at the two, it can be seen as a contrast between divine perfection (i.e the figure from the Lindau Gospels) and a figure that more accurately represents humanity (the Gero crucifix).
Depiction of “Suffering” on the cross
When examining the Lindau Gospels, Jesus in this instance is depicted as a flawless divine figure who does not even appear to be suffering on the cross since his head is held up straight and he appears to be merely stretching out this arms in some form of welcoming gesture. In comparison, the Jesus figure in the Gero crucifix appears to be suffering substantially as evidenced by this bowed head and the fact that he is leaning on the cross.
It is important to note that this particular depiction is related to how certain organizations tend to want to depict religious iconography based on how they want people to react to it.
For instance, if a religious organization wanted to depict Jesus as a divine figure, they would attempt to remove aspects that would make him seem “flawed” and this can be seen in the “Crucifixion with Angels and Mourning Figures”.
Based on everything that has been presented, it can be seen that the different depictions of Jesus showcase how organizations wish to portray Jesus in a way that they him represented to his worshippers. They can choose either to depict him as an individual that people can relate to or as someone who people worship as a divine entity.