Arles Trinity Sarcophagus

Arles “Trinity” Sarcophagus, c. 325 C.E., Musée Départemental Arles Antique, Arles.

A relief on a sarcophagus (stone coffin) depicts the creation of Adam and Eve, who stand side by side, naked and diminutive in size like newborn children. They face the three persons of the Trinity—a bearded, seated man (God the Father), flanked by a bearded male (the Holy Spirit) and a youthful figure (the Son), whose right hand rests on Eve’s head in a gesture of blessing. Carved in the early fourth century, as Christians discussed the Son’s divinity, the scene has been interpreted as an attempt to show all three persons of the godhead engaged in the act of creation. But who is the partially bald, bearded man standing at the right edge of the scene, resting his left hand on Adam’s shoulder? Art historians have noted that he resembles depictions of the apostle Paul, whose writings portray Adam as the antetype of Christ, the “Second Adam.” Paul stands by Christ and Adam as a witness to deity’s creation and planned redemption of humanity.

 Source: Photo by Dr. Catherine Gines Taylor, used with permission of Catherine Gines Taylor and the Musée Départemental Arles Antique.

Arles “Trinity” Sarcophagus, c. 325 C.E.

God as expressed in three persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit.

Associated with a deity; exhibiting religious importance; set apart from ordinary (i.e. "profane") things.

The third division of the Jewish canon, also called by the Hebrew name Ketuvim. The other two divisions are the Torah (Pentateuch) and Nevi'im (Prophets); together the three divisions create the acronym Tanakh, the Jewish term for the Hebrew Bible.

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