Biblical Archaeology Review 40:3, May/June 2014

ReViews: Restoring Nudity

What Really Happened in the Garden of Eden?

By Ziony Zevit (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2013), 400 pp., $30 (hardcover)

When he saw Michelangelo’s Last Judgment (1541) in the Sistine Chapel, papal Master of Ceremonies Biagio da Casena denounced the fresco’s “dishonest” and “shameful” nudity. Thirteen years later at the behest of the Council of Trent, Daniele da Volterra (and other artists over the centuries) draped the “obscene” figures with fig leaves and vestments in a literal cover-up that only ended in 1994 when restorers at last stripped away the offending drapery and restored the figures to the nudity and nobility envisioned by Michelangelo. In this new book, author Ziony Zevit attempts a similar restoration, not of a painting, but of the story at the opposite end of cosmic time: Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

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