Vincent Word Studies - John 19:2 - 19:2

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Vincent Word Studies - John 19:2 - 19:2

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

Crown (στέφανον)

So Matthew and Mark. Luke does not mention the crown of thorns. See on 1Pe 5:4.

Of thorns (ἐξ ἀκανθῶν)

So Matthew. Mark has ἀκάνθινον, the adjective, made of thorns, which John also uses in Joh 19:5. All attempts to define the botanical character of the thorns used for Christ's crown are guesses. The word for thorns used here is the only one that occurs in the New Testament; the σκόλοψ (thorn in the flesh) of 2Co 12:7, being properly an impaling-stake.

Both the crowning with thorns and the flagellation are favorite subjects in Christian art. Some of the earliest representations of the latter depict the figure of the Lord as fully draped, and standing unbound at the column, thus illustrating the voluntariness of His sacrifice. In a MS. of the fourteenth century, in the British Museum, He stands, wholly clothed, holding a book in one hand, and blessing with the other. The more devout feeling which predominated in such representations was gradually overpowered by the sense of physical suffering. The earlier paintings represented the back turned toward the spectator, and the face, turned in a forced attitude, exhibited in profile. Later, the face and figure are turned full to the front, and the strokes fall upon the chest. Hence Jerome, in his commentary on Matthew, says that the capacious chest of God (!) was torn with strokes. The standing position is the accepted one, but instances occur in which the Savior is on the ground attached to the column by one hand. Such is the revolting picture by L. Caracci in the Bologna gallery, in which the soldier clutches Jesus by the hair as he plies the bundle of twigs. In a Psalter of the fifteenth century the Savior stands in front of the column, covering His face with His hands.

According to the later type, the moment chosen is when the execution of the sentence is just beginning. One man is binding the hands to the pillar, another is binding together a bundle of loose switches. The German representations are coarser than the Italian, but with more incident. They lack the spiritual feeling which appears in the best Italian specimens.

A field for a higher feeling and for more subtle treatment is opened in the moments succeeding the scourging. One of the very finest examples of this is the picture of Velasquez, “Christ at the Column,” in the National Gallery of London. The real grandeur and pathos of the conception assert themselves above certain prosaic and realistic details. The Savior sits upon the ground, His arms extended, and leaning backward to the full stretch of the cord which binds His crossed hands. The face is turned over the left shoulder full upon the spectator. Rods, ropes, and broken twigs lie upon the ground, and slender streams of blood appear upon the body. A guardian angel behind the figure of the Lord, stands bending slightly over a child kneeling with clasped hands, and points to the sufferer, from whose head a ray of light passes to the child's heart. The angel is a Spanish nursery-maid with wings, and the face of the child is of the lower Spanish type, and is in striking contrast with the exquisite countenance of Murillo's Christ-child, which hangs next to this picture, and which is of the sweetest type of Andalusian beauty. The Savior's face is of a thoroughly manly, indeed, of a robust type, expressing intense suffering, but without contortion. The large, dark eyes are ineffably sad. The strong light on the right arm merges into the deep shadow of the bound hands, and the same shadow falls with startling effect across the full light on the left arm, marked at the wrist by a slight bloody line.

In the portrayal of the crowning with thorns, in a few instances, the moment is chosen after the crown has been placed, the action being in the mock-worship; but the prevailing conception is that of the act of crowning, which consists in pressing the crown upon the brow by means of two long staves. A magnificent specimen is Luini's fresco in the Ambrosian Library at Milan. Christ sits upon a tribune, clad in a scarlet robe, His face wearing an expression of infinite sweetness and dignity, while a soldier on either side crowds down the crown with a staff. The Italian artists represent the crown as consisting of pliable twigs with small thorns; but the northern artists “have conceived,” to quote Mrs. Jameson, “an awful structure of the most unbending, knotted boughs, with tremendous spikes half a foot long, which no human hands could have forced into such a form.” In a few later instances the staves are omitted, and the crown is placed on the head by the mailed hand of a soldier.

Put on (περιέβαλον)

Literally, threw about. Rev., arrayed.

Purple (πορφυροῦν)

An adjective. Found only here, Joh 19:5, and Rev 18:16. Mark uses the noun πορφύρα, purple, which also occurs in Rev 17:4; Rev 18:12. See on Luk 16:19. Matthew has κοκκίνην, scarlet.

Robe (ἱμάτιον)

Better, as Rev., garment, since robe gives the impression of a trailing garment. See on Mat 5:40. Matthew has χλαμύδα, a short military cloak (Mat 27:28). Luke describes the garment as λαμπρὰν, gorgeous, bright or brilliant (Luk 23:11).