Cologne Cathedral and 'The Jews'-The St Peter and Jesse window

The St Peter and Jesse window in the north aisle was donated in 1509 by Archbishop Philipp of Daun (1508–1515).

The upper area on the right-hand side shows the Tree of Jesse. Jesse, the father of King David (1 Sam. 16: 19), is seen sleeping, a vine with flowers and grapes growing out of his torso. The grapes are a reference to Christ's priesthood and Passion. The torsos of twelve kings can be seen emerging from the flowers. They represent Jesus' royal descent from the House of David. It is no coincidence that the number is the same as that of the apostles. The only one of the kings who is clearly identifiable is King David, because of the harp in his hands. The Tree of Jesse ends with the depiction of the Virgin and Christ Child, to which the kings turn in reverence.

The image of the Tree of Jesse, which was widespread and popular in the Middle Ages, has its origins in the genealogical tree of Jesus at the start of the Gospel of St Matthew (Matt. 1: 1–17) and in the prophecy of Isaiah (Isa. 11: 1): 'A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.' According to the Christian interpretation, as this image clearly illustrates, this prophecy was fulfilled in the incarnation of Jesus. This image can, therefore, be seen in the light of the so-called 'inheritance theory' according to which Christianity, as the new covenant, replaced God's old covenant with Israel. This theory, which targeted post-biblical Judaism, is now considered outdated.

On the other hand, the image also emphasises Jesus' Jewish roots and clearly illustrates Christianity's origins in Judaism.
Matthias Deml

KulturstiftungDombau Verein