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Copperplate engraving.

“The Paralytic is Lowered through the Roof of a Crowded House so that Christ Can Reach Him and Cure Him.” From a collection of biblical images originally engraved for the two volume 1795 Authorized edition of the Bible printed and sold by W. and T. Heptinstall. Engraving by James Newton (1748? – 1804) after artwork by Charles Reuben Riley (1752?-1798).

Biographers of Charles Reuben Riley (sometimes Ryley) remark that he was raised as a Methodist. The Methodist denomination emerged in the mid-eighteenth century as a Protestant movement to renew spirituality in the age of rationalism. Methodists believe that personal salvation is achieved through good works. Early founders encouraged preaching by lay persons, who would travel and preach directly to the people.

Text: “The Sick of the Palsy Healed and His Sins Forgiven.”


This scene from the Gospel According to Mark shows the paralyzed man on the ground, having been lowered on ropes through the open roof above. He is supported by one man, whose head is bowed. Two other men behind him also bow their heads with closed eyes. The other people in the scene either gaze directly at Jesus or at the paralyzed man. The man’s head is turned toward Jesus and we can’t see his expression. His chest is bare, and bright in contrast to the figures in the background. Jesus stands, his palms extended to the man and his friends who support him. The composition of his extended arms creates a triangular space. His disposition is gentle, he seems to embrace the entire room with his arms, and his face has a soft appearance.


Artwork in the public domain