Hirmer Verlag

Torn asunder. The veil covering the Jerusalem Temple rips in two (lower right corner in the photo) at the moment of Jesus’ death on the cross. The scene is from the 11th-century Gospel Book of the Abbess Uota of Niedermunster, Germany.

According to the first-century Jewish historian Josephus, the veil over the Jerusalem Temple was decorated with “a panorama of the heavens.” Mark’s description of the veil ripping thus brings his powerful image full circle: Both at the beginning and end of Jesus’ public life—at his baptism and at his crucifixion—the heavens or, in the case of the Temple, a representation of the heavens, tear open.