Jesse Tree

First half of the 14th century
Marble relief
Orvieto Cathedral (Cathedral of the Assumption)

In Romans 15:12 Paul quotes Isaiah 11:10 in arguing that Christ is for the Gentiles as well as the Jews: "There shall be a root of Jesse; and he that shall rise up to rule the Gentiles, in him the Gentiles shall hope." Jesse is the father of King David. Medieval artists and their sponsors responded to Paul's argument with the iconographic tradition called the "Jesse Tree." Jesse lies at the base of a genealogical "tree" that rises up through the kings and prophets of Old Testament history to reach Mary and Jesus at the top.

Full-resolution image of the bottom of the tree
Full-resolution image of the middle of the tree
Full-resolution image of the top of the tree
For comments on how this relief relates to the others on the cathedral façade, please follow this link.

More of Jesse

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