Sunday, September 08, 2013

Sophia, the Logos of God fresco in S. Stefano, Soleto, Italy

Over twenty years ago, I went on my first sabbatical to Apulia (Italian: Puglia) in Italy to look at late Byzantine frescoes. True, it is not what you might expect from an NT scholar but I was in search of images of Jesus as Sophia in Byzantine tradition. Some exist in abandoned churches, others do not. I presented the results of my research on a specific fresco with the Greek inscription "Sophia, the Logos of God" to a Byzantine Studies conference once I was back in the NE, only to be told that what I had shown was "an anomaly in Byzantine thought." End of discussion? Until now.

Here's a wonderful new 360 degree view of the XIV Century frescoes of that church in Soleto. In the  Apse of the east end is the image of Sophia with the Greek inscription above. A specific study of that church has been published (2010). All being well, I will be able to publish a discussion of the frescoes and this particular image within a year or so. I am arguing that ignoring such frescoes or relegating them to a category of "late Byzantine" or even "non-Byzantine" creates unhelpful categories of what is normative (art and architecture in Constantinople?). Byzantine art in Salento is a transformation of Greco-Roman and Byzantine art with regional features. 

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