Alfredo Dagli Orti/Art Resource, NY

TO WORK IS HUMAN. This Byzantine mosaic from the Cappella Palatina in the Palazzo dei Normanni in Italy displays the “Labors of Adam and Eve” after the fall. The early-fifth-century Syriac text Liber Graduum explains the Manichaean position that before the fall, Adam and Eve did not work with their hands, but engaged only in “angelic leisure.” “Earthly toil” is now the human condition, however, and something that must be overcome in order to reach the highest form of holiness. The Egyptian monks in contrast embraced work to demonstrate their abiding humanity.