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The World's Oldest ChurchBible, Art, and Ritual at Dura-Europos, Syria$
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Michael Peppard

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300213997

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300213997.001.0001

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Lord and Shepherd of the Water

Lord and Shepherd of the Water

(p.86) Three Lord and Shepherd of the Water
The World's Oldest Church

Michael Peppard

Yale University Press

This chapter first combines two upper-panel scenes thought to represent Jesus Christ with a third over the font: the walking on the water with Simon Peter; the healing of a paralytic; and the shepherd with a flock of sheep. The scene of the walking on the water shows Peter as an ideal disciple who imitates the divine power of Christ. Jesus’ reputation as a healer was widespread in antiquity, but in Syria it was even more of a focus, with “Healer” and “Physician” as prevalent titles for Christ there. Turning to the font itself, the painting on the western wall portrays a shepherd watering his flock, which recalls David as shepherd, Christ the Good Shepherd, and the foundational Psalm 23. The large number of sheep in the flock signifies the communal aspect of Christian initiation, the incorporation of a “sealed” individual into a community protected from enemies by the name of Christ.

Keywords:   Good Shepherd, Healing, Miracles of Jesus, Peter, Walking on the Water

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