Blake seeks to provide the Golden String which can lead us through the labyrinth of our experience or his own poetry.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


The third and final temptation of Jesus comprises 6 verses in Luke. The devil quotes scripture as he invites Jesus to throw himself off the pinnacle to which he has brought him. Jesus replies using scripture as well. The devil ceases the testing of Jesus following his reply.

[9] And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:
[10] For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:
[11] And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
[12] And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
[13] And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.

Psalms 91
[11] For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
[12] They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Deuteronomy 6

[16] Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.

Millton follows the Biblical account adding greater detail:

Paradise Regained
" I here have had
To try thee, sift thee, and confess have found thee
Proof against all temptation, as a rock
Of adamant and as a centre, firm
To the utmost of mere man both wise and good,
Not more; for honours, riches, kingdoms, glory,
Have been before contemned, and may again.
Therefore, to know what more thou art than man,
Worth naming the Son of God by voice from Heaven,
Another method I must now begin." [540]
So saying, he caught him up,
There, on the highest pinnacle, he set
The Son of God, and added thus in scorn: [550]
"There stand, if thou wilt stand; to stand upright
Will ask thee skill. I to thy Father's house
Have brought thee, and highest placed: highest is best.
Now shew thy progeny; if not to stand,
Cast thyself down. Safely, if Son of God;
For it is written, 'He will give command
Concerning thee to his Angels; in their hands
They shall uplift thee, lest at any time
To whom thus Jesus: "Also it is written, [560]
'Tempt not the Lord thy God.'" He said, and stood;
But Satan, smitten with amazement, fell."

Blake illustrated the third temptation in the series for Paradise Regained between 1816 and 1818. Several years earlier (1803-05) he had included the third temptation as one of a series of Biblical illustration for Thomas Butts.

Image in Victoria and Albert Museum______________Image in Fitzwilliam Museum

The image of Jesus in the two illustration provides dramatic contrast. The first image presents Jesus as calm, composed and static. In the image for Milton's Paradise regained we see Jesus balanced by one toe on the pinnacle, with his arms raised in praise or joy. Blake frequently used the position of outstretched arms as a reminder of the crucifixion as well. It would appear that Blake was affirming the more approachable, inviting Jesus (or perhaps even the resurrected Christ) in the second image. He appears to emphasize the Son of God in the first image and the Brother of Mankind in the second.

Jerusalem, Plate 96, (E 255)
"Then Jesus appeared standing by Albion as the Good Shepherd
By the lost Sheep that he hath found & Albion knew that it
Was the Lord the Universal Humanity, & Albion saw his Form
A Man. & they conversed as Man with Man, in Ages of Eternity
And the Divine Appearance was the likeness & similitude of Los"

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