Magnificent Beards: God

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God from the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo, 1512
Magnificent Beards
By HARPER TRUOG

It is only fitting that God have an awesome beard. The beard looks like thunder clouds; he must have created clouds in his beard’s image. God’s face even has a stormy expression. The beard invokes power and majesty; it is full and poofy. A great beard is an aspect of the divine. Michelangelo wanted God to look like the all-powerful deity he is, so God had to have a beard. The image of God as a muscular, bearded, man is the default setting in Renaissance art and in western culture.

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel features nine scenes from the book of Genesis, The Creation of Adam being one. The ceiling shows just how talented Michelangelo is at creating a mass of figures. The Creation of Adam is one of the most famous scenes from the Sistine Chapel and has been turned into a Renaissance icon. Replicas and parodies have been produced for years. The image of God and Adam’s hands almost touching has become the image of God reaching down and impacting human lives. 

Just like Michelangelo’s painting of God creating Adam is an iconic image, God’s beard reflects the characteristics of the western, Christian God. This picture is supposed to invoke a feeling of power and strength, and what better figure to give God than a muscular, white man. The beard only adds to the severity of his face and demeanor. It also alludes to God being immortal. He looks old and wise in the face, but his body is not one of an old man’s.

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