** medieval Christianity traditions -- Holy Kinship

Figure 1.--The painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder is part of a triptych, explaining its veryical domensions. It is a depiction of the Holy Kinship (the extended family of Jesus). It was painted 1509, just before Luther launched the Protestant Reformation. This part of the triptych depicts Mary of Cleophas (John 19:25) who, according to a tradition, is regarded as a step-sister of the Virgin Mary (an early Christian tradition recognizes oachin as the father of the Virgin Mary). Mary of Cleophas would have been the mother of James and Joses (Mark 6:3) who wouldn't have been brothers of Jesus, but his cousins. Her husband would have been Alpheus. Among the Apostles there is James of Alpheus (Mark 3:18); he would be James the brother of the Lord (Galatians 1:19), son of Alpheus and Mary of Cleophas. According to this tradition, the painting depicts Mary of Cleophas with her husband Alpheus and their children James and Joses. Alpheus is pasinted swuth tghe features of Frederick the Wise, who at the time was a fervent Catholic, but later became the great defender of Luther. Mary of Cleophas is breastfeeding Joses, in her arms, while James, at her feet, wears a long shirt as only garment. Alpheus and Mary are clothed as wealthy people at the time. While these paintings depict Biblical personages, they re of interest to dashion historians because they are clothed in contemprary garments.

Medieval Christian Traditions: The Holy Kinship

The Holy Kinship was a popular medieval tradition about the hypothesized extended family of Jesus based on the work of vatious theologians. It was based on the descendents of his maternal grandmother -- Saint Anne and her trinubium (three marriages). The first known theologian to present the consept of the trinubium was Haymo of Halberstadt in his Historiae sacrae epitome (9th century). His list totaled 17 people. Other theologians devised slightly different lists. The Holy Kinship tradition was for some reason especially popular in Germany and the Low Countries, probably the result of the influnce of its creator. It seems to have been especilly prominent nasded on the art works depicting it in the late-15th and early-16th centuries. The 1509 painting here is part of a triptych by Lucas Cranach the Elder (figure 1). These paintings largly disppeared after the Council of Trent (1545-63). This probbly reflected the vulnerability of Church traditions wihout Biblical authticity. Saint Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary, was theorized to be grandmother not just of Jesus but also to five of the twelve apostles (John the Evangelist, James the Greater, James the Less, Simon and Jude). These apostles as well as John the Baptist were seen as cousins of Jesus. [Hall] Som artists painted the whole group. Others painted smaller groups. Most prominently Jesus and his parents,some gimes with his cousin John the Baptist and John's mother Elizabeth (Gospel of Luke 1:36) and perhaps Saint Anne. The older generations is matriarchal. The youngest generation normll ed;pocted as children, are all male. The Council of Trent called to address the Protestnt Reformation dismissed the legend of the Anne's three marriages and as a result we no nponger see paintings if he entire family. Smaller groups continued to be pained, especially the cousins Jesus and John the Baptist.


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Created: 5:20 AM 12/23/2021
Last updated: 5:20 AM 12/23/2021