The Dogmatic Sarcophagus: Detail, the loaves and fishes and the raising of Lazarus

First half of 4th century
Stone sarcophagus
Museo Pio Cristiano, The Vatican, Rome

Jesus places his left hand on a fish held by one disciple and his right on a basket of bread held by another. The disciple on his left is probably St. Peter: compare him to the representations of Peter with the rooster and when arrested in the lower register. The beardless young man on Jesus' right could be St. John, who is often represented as being younger than the other Apostles.

Much of the Lazarus panel has broken away, but it can be identified by the figure of the dead man's sister Mary kneeling at Jesus' feet and the gesture he is making with his right arm. For the iconography of Lazarus scenes such as this, see the commentary on the Lazarus panel in the Sarcophagus of Jonah. One of the few options open to a sculptor of such scenes is Jesus' hand gestures. In this case the left hand holds his toga in place while the right arm is raised either in blessing or with a rod to signify his divine power.

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Photographed at the Museo Pio Cristiano by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.