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The lamentation of Jesus is one of the important biblical-artistic themes around Jesus’ death and resurrection since the Middle Ages – including themes such as the crucifixion, deposition, pietà, anointing, and entombment (see above “I. Christianity, Literature, and Music” and “II. Visual Arts”). This artistic scene is not genuinely consistent with the biblical narrative since no single canonic gospel of the four recounts any particular scene of lamentation. The Gospels only tersely report that at the cross there were few people from his inner circle and other female followers who witnessed the crucifixion from a distance (Matt 27 : 55–56; Luke 23 : 49; Mark 15 : 40–41; John 19 : 25b–27) and later that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus retrieved the body of Jesus from the cross and buried it (Matt 27 : 57–61; Mark 15 : 42–47; Luke 23 : 44–49; John 19 : 38–42). No specific “lamentation” happens in a strict sense in all these accounts. Thus, it is fair to conclude that the lamentation of Jesus is a pious product of the biblical-artistic imagination from the Middle Ages. Yet insofar as film borrows heavily from iconic moments in the visual arts, it has followed suit in (audio-)visually expanding the biblical account to include such scenes of lamentation. Since such scenes appear in almost every Jesus film, only a few notable examples will be discussed here.


Originally published in Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, Encyclopedia Series Vol. XV (Berlin; New York: Walter De Gruyter Inc., 2017), 734-736

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