Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus

Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus (detail), 359 C.E. Museum of St. Peter's Treasury, Rome. Photograph by Giovanni Dall'Orto, 2008.

This high-relief sculpture adorns the sarcophagus of Junius Bassus (317−59), a fourth-century Roman politician and early Christian convert. Bassus once held the title of praefectus urbi (urban prefect) for Rome. Job is seen, far left, sitting stoically on a pile of refuse as his wife offers him bread. She holds her nose to cover the stench. Between them stands either a friend or perhaps Satan disguised as a merchant, a detail from the version of the Job story found not in the Bible but in the later Testament of Job. To the right are Adam, Eve, and a serpent wrapping itself around the tree between them. This triad seems to mirror Job, his wife, and the tempter. Job likely represents the Christian belief that the faithful, by mimicking the perseverance of Christ, can overcome temptation and grasp eternal life.



(verb) To change one's beliefs, practices, and self-identity to those of a religion. (noun) One who has changed his or her beliefs, practices, and self-identity to those of a religion.

A work dating from the first century B.C.E. to the first century C.E. that describes Job’s final conversation with his family before his death. It gives both the “accuser” figure and Job’s wife greater roles than in the biblical text.

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