Thursday, August 18, 2016

Moses and horns

When we visited the Prado museum in Madrid, Spain, I was  almost overwhelmed at the incredible Master painters I saw.  From Degas, the Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso and Bosch, Rembrandt, Dali, and the like...I was in heaven!

In my dream state of seeing artists I could only have imagined, I came across a particular painting by Bosch.  Bosch is most famous for his depiction of the Garden of Earthly Delights.  It shows the Fall with Adam and Eve on the left side, the middle frame depicts all the sin "delights" of life, and the right panel depicts Hell.  It is quite breath taking, and a bit disturbing.  

While we were at the museum, the Prado had put his masterpiece to film and audio.  The video is quite disturbing, but incredible at the same time.

While I was looking over his other pieces of work, I noticed one, and in the middle of it I saw this:

Moses has horns?!

What is going on here?!  So I showed it to Mike and he was totally intrigued!  So he did a little research...

The depiction of a horned Moses stems from the description of Moses' face as "cornuta" ("horned") in the Latin Vulgate translation of the passage from Exodus in which Moses returns to the people after receiving the commandments for the second time. The Douay-Rheims Bible translates the Vulgate as, "And when Moses came down from the mount Sinai, he held the two tables of the testimony, and he knew not that his face was horned from the conversation of the Lord." This was Jerome's effort to faithfully translate the difficult, original Hebrew Masoretic text, which uses the term, karan (based on the root, keren, which often means "horn"); the term is now interpreted to mean "shining" or "emitting rays" (somewhat like a horn). Although some historians believe that Jerome made an outright error, Jerome himself appears to have seenkeren as a metaphor for "glorified", based on other commentaries he wrote, including one on Ezekiel, where he wrote that Moses' face had "become 'glorified', or as it says in the Hebrew, 'horned'. "The Greek Septuagint, which Jerome also had available, translated the verse as "Moses knew not that the appearance of the skin of his face was glorified." In general medieval theologians and scholars understood that Jerome had intended to express a glorification of Moses' face, by his use of the Latin word for "horned."[6]:74–90 The understanding that the original Hebrew was difficult and was not likely to literally mean "horns" persisted into and through the Renaissance.

So the bottom line - it sounds like it was a BAD translation, but it persisted in of the most famous is Michelangelo's statue:

And after I took the picture, then we did a little research, we found SO many versions of Moses with his "horns" or showing him being "radiant":

Who knew?!  Anyway - Bosche was incredible/amazing, and I was truly in awe of his incredible art...but still...Moses with horns?!  Hmmm...

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