The J. Paul Getty Museum

Jesus Among the Doctors

Object Details


Jesus Among the Doctors


Simon Bening (Flemish, about 1483 - 1561)




Bruges, Belgium (Place Created)


about 1525–1530


Tempera colors, gold paint, and gold leaf on parchment

Object Number:

Ms. Ludwig IX 19 (83.ML.115), fol. 53v


Leaf: 16.8 × 11.4 cm (6 5/8 × 4 1/2 in.)

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Object Description

The twelve-year-old Jesus sits on a chair in the center of an octagonal edifice set inside the enormous Temple, visible through the arches. As a group of older men gathers around him listening intently, he holds up his hand with an authority beyond his years. The two full-length sculptures on either side of the central roundel above Jesus represent Moses and David, placing the young Jesus in the context of wise Old Testament leaders. This miniature depicts the story, recounted in the Gospel of Luke, of Jesus in the Temple. When Jesus was twelve, his family set out for Jerusalem, where they journeyed every year at Passover. Soon after their departure from the city, Mary and Joseph realized that their child was not with them and returned to search for the boy. On the third day they discovered him in the Temple conversing among the doctors, who were all impressed with his wisdom. When asked by his mother why he had caused his family worry, Jesus responded, "Did you not know that I must be about my father's business?"