God, Moses, and the Mystery of the Missing Kiss

Why, in all of Jewish art, is there no image depicting the moment of Moses’ death?

Testament and Death of Moses, 1482. Wikipedia.

Testament and Death of Moses, 1482. Wikipedia.

Observation
Oct. 18 2019
About the author

Marc Michael Epstein is professor of religion and visual culture and director of Jewish studies at Vassar College. He is the author of, among other books, The Medieval Haggadah: Art, Narrative, and Religious Imagination (2011) and Skies of Parchment, Seas of Ink: Jewish Illuminated Manuscripts (2015).


For the nearly five million annual visitors to the Sistine Chapel, the “main events” are the ceiling painting of the creation of Adam and the altar-wall painting of the Last Judgment, the two gigantic masterpieces by Michelangelo. But when I visit this jewel-coffer of a space, I find myself quietly gravitating to one of the benches that line its sides.

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More about: Arts & Culture, Hebrew Bible, Moses