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Dispute in the Temple

jesus episode seated century

The only episode in Jesus’ youth which is described in the New Testament, the disputation in the Temple took place when Jesus was twelve years old. His parents (the Virgin *Mary and Saint *Joseph) took him to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover but lost track of him among the group of their friends and family when they were journeying back home to Nazareth. After three days of distressed searching, they discovered Jesus in the Temple back in Jerusalem, engaging in discussion with the astonished Jewish elders and teachers. The event was a premonition of Jesus’ future ministry. The episode is recorded in *Luke 2:41-52 and was elaborated also in the second century apocryphal Gospel of Thomas . The subject appears somewhat infrequently in early Christian art and becomes more common in the later medieval period. Early examples depict simply the boy Jesus seated on a high throne engaging in discussion with two or three seated or standing figures. Mary is included by the sixth or seventh century and Joseph somewhat later. They enter the scene with joyful gestures or stand, quietly observing the seated Jesus, who is traditionally shown elevated on a throne or platform, surrounded by listening or conversing figures. Mary’s emotional reaction is emphasized in later medieval art as this episode of loss and recovery was identified as both one of the *Seven Joys and *Seven Sorrows of the Virgin.
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