The Woman Taken in Adultery

9th century
Convent Church of St. John the Baptist, Müstair, Switzerland

Schiller writes that this fresco "sets the pattern for future development" (I, 160). As in John 9, Jesus sits in the temple area as the woman is brought before him by the scribes and Pharisees. His being seated is regularly mentioned in the commentaries as a symbol of "the humility of his Incarnation" (Catena Aurea, IV, i, 281; Glossa Ordinaria, V, 1152). Humility notwithstanding, this image and many others in the following centuries provide him with a throne to symbolize his authority as a teacher. Picturing him on a throne makes it impossible to show him actually touching the ground, so his right hand merely points downward while with his left he blesses the woman, referencing his words, "Go, and now sin no more." The two men leaving the scene at right are those who "went out one by one, beginning at the eldest." Both are pictured as tonsured medieval churchmen.

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Photographed at the church by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.