Erich Lessing

The empty tomb, stylized with a dome and columns, its door fallen at an angle, stands at the center of this sixth-century Byzantine mosaic at the church of San Appolinaire Nuovo, in Ravenna, Italy. Two women seem to implore the seated angel for an explanation in a scene that most closely resembles the account in Matthew 28:1–8. The women’s visit to the tomb, especially notable for its presence in all four Gospels, has commanded considerable attention from modern scholars. The women’s prominent part as the first Witnesses emphasizes the freedom from passivity that they have achieved despite the patriarchal culture of their time.