UPDATED FEB. 5
More regarding the image on the cover of Pope Francis' new book.
Chagall's own explanation of his concoction of the Hasidic 'Jesus' in his paintings:
"My Christ as I depict him, is always the type of the Jewish martyr, in pogroms and in our other troubles, and not otherwise." (From Rebel to Rabbi: Reclaiming Jesus and the Making of Modern Jewish Culture, Matthew B. Hoffman, p.225)
From Susan Tumarkin Goodman, senior curator at the Schiff-Warburg funded Jewish Museum in New York:
"Employed to address the ongoing destruction of European Jewry, the image of Jesus as a sacrificed Jew became a virtual obsession for Chagall … interpreting Jesus as a significant figure in Jewish history or as a symbol of Jewish martyrdom through the ages …" ("The Chagalls, Joined in a Sketchbook," Susan Tumarkin Goodman, Forward, June 05, 2011)
… “Chagall: Love, War, and Exile,” a startling and provocative show opening September 15 at the Jewish Museum in New York … As the exhibition’s curator, Susan Tumarkin Goodman, notes in the catalogue, the museum is aware that some constituents might find the subject transgressive ...
The counterintuitive twist is that Chagall deployed the crucified Jesus as a tragic, urgent messenger whose purpose was to bear witness to the suffering of the Jews and bring it to the attention of the world …
Chagall, who was raised in a Hasidic home, had his own doubts about using Christian imagery, at various points consulting the Lubavitcher Rebbe and Israeli president Chaim Weizmann on the matter. But in the end, he kept painting Jesus …
Chagall described the act of painting Jesus as “an expression of the human, Jewish sadness and pain which Jesus personifies,” he explained. “…Perhaps I could have painted another Jewish prophet, but after two thousand years mankind has become attached to the figure of Jesus.” ("Resurrecting Chagall’s Jewish Jesus," Robin Cembalest, Art News, Sept 10, 2013)
According to The Jewish Museum’s senior curator emerita, Susan Tumarkin Goodman, “To Chagall, the figure of the crucified Jesus was the most powerful image to convey his anguish at the annihilation of European Jewry. He equated the martyred Jesus with the plight of Jews." ("Chagall’s Jesus: The great Jewish artist’s controversial Crucifixion years," Caroline Lagnado, The Jewish Week, Sept 11, 2013)Also see:
Counterfeit Israel's Counterfeit Jesus
Why Does Pope Francis Promote the Hasidic Painting, "The White Crucifixion"?
Pope Francis' Favorite Painting
Pope Francis' 'Modernist' Hasidism