>Jesus the Ape?


Photo: Paul Fryer’s “The Privilege of Dominion”

Artist Paul Fryer’s latest work will cause much controversy. His work, “The Privilege of Dominion,” which is on display at the former Holy Trinity Church in Marylebone , is a crucifix, but instead on Christ on the cross, the cross bears the life-like body of a gorilla.

The purpose of the display is to “highlight [the] plight of the Western Lowland Gorillas, and to challenge the Christian notion that animals do not have souls.”

This portrayal of Christ as an ape is a perversion of a Christian symbol. There are many other way of calling attention to the plight of gorillas, but not at the expense of Christianity. This is not a work of art. It is an affront to Christianity and it shows how vulgar people can be in their attempt to mock religious faith, primarily when that religion is Christianity.

Christians must join forces and reject this kind of perversion.

Do you think that this is art? I don’t. This is not art; this is blasphemy.

HT: Stephen Smuts

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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10 Responses to >Jesus the Ape?

  1. >Definitely Blasphemy. And apes don't have souls…they are not accountable for sin. We are!


  2. Tuffy says:

    >Dr. Mariottini – I don't think we can't say it's art. Don't get me wrong… I agree… it's blasphemy. It disgusts me to see it. But sometimes a part of art is hating it. Disagreeing with the message or the method doesn't negate that.Much love,Mike


  3. >Marcus.I agree with you.Claude Mariottini


  4. >Tuffy,I see your point. If this is art, then I would say it is blasphemous art.Claude Mariottini


  5. Tuffy says:

    >I can certainly agree with that.


  6. Chris Weimer says:

    >You might do well to remember that Jesus was most certainly not the only guy to die on the cross.Chris


  7. >Chris,That is true, but I do not remember any ape dying on the cross.Claude Mariottini


  8. >This is not art. Creativity (If we can even call this creativity) should be used to the glory of God, not to insult Christians and ultimately God.


  9. Georg says:

    >Firstly, I must thank you for a informative blog which I have just discovered, but probably will spend much time reading. Not everything that looks like an insult is intended as one. Although the artist isn't very competent in conveying his intentions, this isn't supposed to mock Christianity. Create controversy, of course! Artist are fueled by controversy! (similar to "Pieta" – his previous work of Jesus in the electric chair) Where you see the artist making a crude parody of the holiest of Christian imagery, I see him deliberately choosing the only piece of Christian imagery known to the public at large (except for the nativity and Michelangelo's Creation of Adam) to show us his opinion that 1) we humans are making the gorillas suffer unjust (just like we made Jesus suffer unjust – not a very apt comparison) and 2) animals have souls too (by likening a gorilla with a creature that indeed had a soul). How well this was communicated by the artist is up for debate. Regarding the "animals have souls" part of his message: What is it that defines a soul in (your denomination of) Christianity? And more interestingly, how has the concept of "a soul" developed over the course of Jewish and Christian history? I understand that there is very little talk about souls in the form that we usually know them (our eternal non-corporal personality and consciousness) in the old testament.PS: You and Marcus McElhaney both agree that "being accountable for sin" is necessary for owning one. Is this accountability related to free will in general or to the original sin? PPS: Even if something is "an affront to Christianity" doesn't mean that it can't be art.


  10. >Georg,I am glad you discovered my blog. Welcome to this community of readers.I agree with you that art comes in many forms. Although the artist considered his work art, it is still offensive to Christians.The concept of the soul as many people today understand it, is a Greek concept that is not present in the Old Testament.Welcome to my blog.Claude Mariottini


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