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Typology at its Limits: Visual Exegesis and Eschatology in the Sistine Chapel

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Chapter Summary

Typology is a central device in the Sistine chapel frescoes of the fifteenth century where it works, in a quite canonical way, as a model of historical temporality with strong institutional effects. This chapter focuses on the last part of this linking operation of 'montage', looking at the Sistine frescoes from the point of view of the Last Judgment. This anachronistic perspective is founded theologically on the primacy of the future in the Messianic conception of history that organizes the Sistine chapel. The chapter argues that the Quattrocento fresco's dominant temporality is that of the present of papal sovereignty, whereas prophetic insight and the Messianic dimension of the future predominate in the vault. The histories of Moses and of Jesus are objects of typological exegesis, but here the 'results' of the exegesis are given.

Keywords: Jesus; Last Judgment; Messianic dimension; Moses; Sistine chapel; typological exegesis; visual typology



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