Michelangelo, Isaiah, 1509. Fresco, Sistine Chapel, Vatican City.

This Isaiah is one of the seven Old Testament prophets painted by Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Along with the five sibyls, the prophets are a dominant visual element in the ceiling composition.  The sibyls were women of the classical world believed to be oracles and were also thought to have predicted the coming of Jesus.  All of the prophet figures hold a book that represents their prophecy of the coming of Jesus.

In 1506, Pope Julius conceived a program to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  The walls of the chapel had been decorated twenty years earlier. Michelangelo began in 1508 and the ceiling was completed in 1512.


Also called the Hebrew Bible, those parts of the canon that are common to both Jews and Christians. The designation "Old Testament" places this part of the canon in relation to the New Testament, the part of the Bible canonical only to Christians. Because the term "Old Testament" assumes a distinctly Christian perspective, many scholars prefer to use the more neutral "Hebrew Bible," which derives from the fact that the texts of this part of the canon are written almost entirely in Hebrew.

An inspired message related by a prophet; also, the process whereby a prophet relates inspired messages to others.

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