Josef Dettlinger, Marienaltar: Detail, the Circumcision

This sculpture is one of four panels in the altarpiece. Instead of placing the child on an altar like most medieval images of Jesus' circumcision, it pictures the Jewish brit milah that developed during the common era: A congregant holds the traditional candle, the child is on the lap of a seated relative, and the mohel has a prayer shawl and a knife of the traditional type. The wine is probably in the deep dish held by the man at left, or possibly in one of the long cups held by the men in the background.

The Jewish online sources I have consulted for this study all state that until recently the person holding the baby in a brit milah has necessarily been a man. Here and in a 1519 Circumcision it is a woman. In that painting Mary stands in the background, so the woman holding the baby would most likely be her mother, St. Anne. This may also be the case here in Glottertal. The careworn woman seems too old to be the Virgin, who in the three other panels has a youthful face and blond hair.

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Photographed at the Pfarrkirche St. Blasius, Glottertal, Germany, by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.