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Temptation of Christ

jesus devil angels stones

As recounted in the Gospels of *Matthew (4:1-11) and *Luke (4:1-13) and mentioned in *Mark (1:12-13), after Jesus’ *Baptism, he spent a period of forty days fasting and praying in the wilderness, at the end of which time the *Devil appeared to test and tempt him with offers of extraordinary riches and power. The three specific temptations are ordered slightly differently in Matthew and Luke; the Devil demanded that Jesus prove Page 240  his sonship to *God by turning stones into bread; next, he transported Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem and demanded that he test God by jumping off to see if *angels would save him; finally, he took Jesus up on a high mountain and offered him power over the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would worship him. In each case, Jesus quoted Old Testament passages and resisted the Devil, and after the Devil departed, angels appeared and ministered to Jesus. The subject seems not to appear in medieval art before the ninth century but is then found in Insular, Carolingian and Byzantine manuscripts and ivories and in Romanesque and Gothic manuscripts, frescoes, and sculpture. Sometimes all three temptations are represented simultaneously or in a continuous narrative: Jesus and the Devil are shown on a mountaintop, on top of an architectural structure, and gesturing toward a pile of stones. Cups, bowls, jewelry or other objects symbolizing worldly wealth may be included, as well as angels. The Devil may be disguised as a man, or, more commonly, is recognized by his demonic appearance (claws, wings, horns, beak, black coloring, hairy and grotesque features). A tree may be shown, perhaps as a reference to the original temptation in the *Garden of Eden and the failure of *Adam and Eve to resist temptation, in contrast to Jesus.
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