Arian Baptistry mosaic centered on Jesus’s navel

Jesus in the Arian Baptistry mosaic

Traditional Greco-Roman and Hebrew thought associated a navel with both the center of a man and the center of the cosmos. The Arian Baptistry mosaic, constructed in Ravenna, Italy, about the end of the fifth century, has a circular design. It shows John the Baptist baptizing Jesus in the River Jordan. At the center of the circular design is Jesus’s navel. That design figures Jesus as a divine man at the center of the cosmos.

Leonardo da Vinci’s late-fifteenth-century Vitruvian Man drawing shows a man’s penis at the center of a bounding square. That geometry represents that a man’s penis is at the center of his earthly being. In the Arian Baptistry mosaic, Jesus’s penis is clearly visible in the water of the River Jordan. That depiction emphasizes that Jesus was a fully masculine man like the man of the Vitruvian Man drawing and other earthly men.

Earthly men should not be shamed for having a penis. Nor should a man be forced to make large, arbitrary, and unreasonable financial payments simply because he served a woman with the wonderful functioning of his penis. Nor should men spreading their legs to create more room for the center of their being be judged a crime (“manspreading”). Meditate on the ancient Arian Baptistry mosaic, and you will understand.

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Notes:

Writing about 20 BGC, the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius in his book De architectura (On architecture) described a man’s navel as at the center of a circle circumscribing him

The Gospels describe the baptism of Jesus. See Matthew 3:13-7, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-2, John 1:29-34. The figure on the left in the Arian Baptistry mosaic is a personification of the River Jordan.

The Ostrogoth King Theodoric the Great constructed the baptistry. He was an Arian Christian. Arianism represented an early split in Christian theology over Jesus’s status in time.

[image] Arian Baptistry mosaic (excerpt). Photo thanks to Petar Milošević, via Wikimedia Commons.

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