The Gospel of
Matthew contains the only Biblical reference to the Flight into
And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to
Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother,
and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod
will seek the young child to destroy him.
14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and
departed into Egypt:
15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled
which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I
called my son.
And yet, from this laconic beginning, an extensive mythology has
grown, which has inspired many artists, from the eighth century to the
present day. This study explores the various
narratives and their influence on art.
One small, sad footnote: I am
writing this in June 2011. A Google search of the words 'Flight into
Egypt' brings reports of families fleeing into Egypt with their
children from an unforgiving dictator in Libya. An ancient story suddenly
takes on a very modern resonance.