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Joseph

joseph’s life medieval christian

The dramatic life of Joseph, the favored son of *Jacob, is described in chapters 37-48 of Genesis. He was a very popular subject in early Christian and medieval art; narrative scenes from Joseph’s life include: his father favoring him with a gift of a multicolored or long-sleeved coat; his jealous brothers throwing him down a well and selling him into slavery; his adventures in Egypt, including fleeing from the seduction attempt by the wife of his master *Potiphar; her subsequent accusation of him and his imprisonment; his interpretation of dreams (including those of *Pharaoh) and elevation to the position of viceroy of the land; the reconciliation with his family; and Jacob’s blessing of Joseph’s sons *Ephraim and Manasseh. In medieval Christian interpretation, events from Joseph’s life are linked typologically with the life of *Christ, for example, his being cast into and retrieved from the well is a prefiguration of the *death and *Resurrection of Jesus; his wisdom in supervising food storage in anticipation of famine prefigures Christ’s miraculous feeding of the multitude; and Jacob’s crossed arm gesture in delivering the right-handed blessing to Joseph’s younger son Ephraim was understood as the supplanting of Judaism by Christianity. Extended narrative cycles occur in early Christian ivories, manuscripts, frescoes,   and mosaics, and also in later medieval manuscripts, sculpture, and stained glass windows. As an independent figure, Joseph may be shown with his attribute of a blade or sheaf of wheat.
Joseph of Arimathea [next] [back] Jordan, Michael - Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Social and Economic Impact, Chronology: Michael Jordan

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