Thursday, November 21, 2019
God with His Compass
This is referred to as 'God Measuring the World'.
I think the title could be 'God Creating the World'.
The image is c. 1250. It is the frontispiece of German Bible. The person who drew this was most likely a monk.
Here's what I see:
God is holding the world in His left hand. His right hand holds His compass, ready to be turned in an arc. He has set His feet to steady Himself in a door frame. His right foot is outside the frame; His toes catching the sill.
His brass compass is long - 24"? It has a well wrought hinge which might have a nut on the right side and a handle long enough for easy grasping. Its wing has generous length, allowing God to adjust His dimension.
The accuracy of the depiction of the compass and the posture of God tell me that the illustrator knew personally how a mason or carpenter used a compass. It was a portrait of God. The model could have been a friend or himself.
Earth appears to be a flat disk, a plate, with the darkness upon the deep, the light divided from the darkness, and the earth without form - just as described in Genesis.
God has put one compass point into the center of the world. He has set His width to a pleasing radius. He is drawing a circle, the first step in compass layout; or perhaps He has just finished drawing the circle: He has just laid out the World. He pays close attention on His first day as He creates the World. He sees that it is good.
If He were dividing the firmament from the depths - measuring - His compass width would be smaller.
In case you don't know this part of the Bible:
The Bible (using 17th c. English, the King James Version of the Bible, not the Latin this monk probably knew):
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said let there be light. And there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
Genesis, Chapter 1.1-6.
The sun and the moon are not created until the fourth day in verse 16.
See also Proverbs, Chapter 8. 22-29.
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