The Genealogy of Christ is a fourteenth-century mosaic that decorates the southern dome of Chora Church, now the Kariye Museum, Istanbul. In the apex of the dome, we see Christ Pantocrator, a celebrated Eastern Orthodox icon that imagines Christ as ‘God Almighty’ or ‘Ruler of All’. The icon shows Christ gazing towards the beholder with a sober expression. In his left hand, he holds the Holy Bible, and his right hand is lifted in a sign of blessing.
The base of the drum of the dome is decorated with two cycles of Old Testament characters. The lowest cycle depicts a ring of Jacob’s children who represent the tribes of Israel and Judah. Above them we see a cycle of other Old Testament characters who are identifiable as members of Christ’s genealogy as enumerated in Luke 3:25–37, from Adam to Jacob. The name of each ancestor is inscribed above him in Greek, and in some cases an attribute drawn from the biblical narrative is also included. For example, directly below Christ Pantocrator is Adam, who stands above a snake in reference to Genesis 3. In a similar way, Noah holds an ark.
Situated beneath the watchful gaze of Christ Pantocrator, these figures and the narratives they represent fall under the sovereign authority radiating from the central punctum. In Eastern iconography, the use of a visual cycle emphasizes the continuing trajectory of Christ’s reign (Ousterhout 1995: 63). Defying chronological beginnings and ends, the divinity of Christ permeates outwards, throughout the dome and into the space where countless generations of Christian believers gather under his sovereign gaze.
Cimok, Fatih. 2009. Chora: Mosaics and Frescoes (Istanbul: A Turizm Yayınları Limited)
Inomata, Keisuke, Shigeyuki Okazaki, and Kazuhiko Yanagisawa. 2011. ‘Functions of Mountains in Visual Composition of Christian Paintings in the Chora Church’, Intercultural Understanding, 1: 25–30
Ousterhout, Robert. 1995. ‘Structuring in the Chora Parekklesion’, Gesta, 34.1: 63–76
1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4and Ram the father of Amminʹadab, and Amminʹadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5and Salmon the father of Boʹaz by Rahab, and Boʹaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6and Jesse the father of David the king.
and Solomon the father of Rehoboʹam, and Rehoboʹam the father of Abiʹjah, and Abiʹjah the father of Asa, 8and Asa the father of Jehoshʹaphat, and Jehoshʹaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziʹah, 9and Uzziʹah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiʹah, 10and Hezekiʹah the father of Manasʹseh, and Manasʹseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiʹah, 11and Josiʹah the father of Jechoniʹah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniʹah was the father of She-alʹti-el, and She-alʹti-el the father of Zerubʹbabel, 13and Zerubʹbabel the father of Abiʹud, and Abiʹud the father of Eliʹakim, and Eliʹakim the father of Azor, 14and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliʹud, 15and Eliʹud the father of Eleaʹzar, and Eleaʹzar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
23 Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, 24the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Janʹna-i, the son of Joseph, 25the son of Mattathiʹas, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Nagʹga-i, 26the son of Maʹath, the son of Mattathiʹas, the son of Semʹe-in, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, 27the son of Jo-anʹan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubʹbabel, the son of She-alʹti-el, the son of Neri, 28the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmaʹdam, the son of Er, 29the son of Joshua, the son of Elieʹzer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliʹakim, 31the son of Meʹle-a, the son of Menna, the son of Matʹtatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 32the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boʹaz, the son of Sala, the son of Nahshon, 33the son of Amminʹadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 34the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35the son of Serug, the son of Reʹu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36the son of Ca-iʹnan, the son of Arphaʹxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37the son of Methuʹselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahaʹlale-el, the son of Ca-iʹnan, 38the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.