Christ Among the Doctors

Christ Among the Doctors

The Finding in the Temple, also called "Christ among the Doctors" or the Disputation (the usual names in art), was an episode in the early life of Jesus depicted in the Gospel of Luke. It is the only event of the later childhood of Jesus mentioned in a gospel.

Gospel account

The episode is only described in Infancy Gospel of Thomas(19:1-12).

The later Jewish custom of Bar Mitzvah for boys at thirteen, considered the age at which a Jewish male would attain responsibility for learning and adhering to the commandments, is recorded some centuries after the description in Luke but may have been the reason for Jesus' visit to the temple and study of the scriptures.

The losing of Jesus is the third of the Seven sorrows of Mary, and the Finding in the Temple is the fifth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary.

In art

The episode is frequently shown in art, and was a common component in cycles of the [1]) and beyond. From the Early Medieval period the moment shown is usually assimilated to the finding itself, by the inclusion of, initially, Mary, and later Joseph as well, usually at the left of the scene. Typically, Jesus and the doctors, intent on their discussions, have not noticed them yet. From the 12th century Jesus is often seated in a large throne-like chair, sometimes holding a book or scroll.

In late medieval depictions, the Doctors, often now carrying or consulting large volumes, may be given specifically Jewish features or dress, and are sometimes overtly anti-Semitic caricatures, like some of the figures in Albrecht Dürer's version in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.

From the High Renaissance onwards, many painters showed a "close-up" of the scene, with Jesus closely surrounded by gesticulating scholars, as in Dürer's version of the subject. Rembrandt, who enjoyed depicting Jewish elders in the Temple in various subjects, made three etchings of the subject (Bartsch 64-66Template:Dn) as well as one of the much more unusual scene of "Jesus returning from the Temple with his parents" (B 60). The Pre-Raphaelite painter William Holman Hunt painted a version called The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple, now at Birmingham, as one of a number of subjects from Jesus's life, for which he travelled to the Holy Land to study local details.

The subject has attracted few artists since the 19th century, and one of the last notable depictions may be the one painted, as a forgery of a Vermeer, by Han van Meegeren in front of the Dutch police, in order to demonstrate that the paintings he had sold to Hermann Göring were also fake.[3]

See also


Main source

  • G. Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art, Vol. I,1971 (English translation from German), Lund Humphries, London, pp. 124–5 & figs, ISBN 853312702
Finding in the Temple
Preceded by
Return of young Jesus to Nazareth
New Testament
Succeeded by
Pilate made Prefect of Judea,
further succeeded by

Baptism of Jesus