London, June 21 : A new book says that the frescoes created by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel contained a secret code made up of mystical Jewish symbols, and insults aimed at the pope.
The book titled 'The Sistine Secrets: Unlocking the Codes in Michelangelo's Defiant Masterpiece' suggests that the renaissance artist worked on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for four years in the early 16th century, and that they are actually a "bridge" between the Roman Catholic Church and the Jewish faith.
Authored by Assistant Professor Rabbi Benjamin Blech of Yeshiva University in New York and a tour guide at the Vatican named Roy Doliner, the book is already on the New York Times bestseller list.
The writers say that they found shapes corresponding to Hebrew letters when they scanned through the arrangement of figures on the vast 14,000 square foot ceiling.
As an example, they say, the figures of David and Goliath form the shape of the letter gimel, which symbolises g'vurah (strength) in the mystical Kabbalah tradition.
Just on the opposite wall, the figures showing Judith and her handmaiden carrying the head of the Assyrian general Holofernes are in the shape of the Hebrew letter chet, representing chesed or the characteristics of "loving kindness".
"There are so many layers of meaning on meaning, and most of it is from the Jewish tradition," the Telegraph quoted Doliner as saying on an American television programme.
According to Rabbi Blech, all the figures in the nine scenes on the ceiling are Jews.
"He emphasises only Old Testament figures in the entire ceiling, and what he was trying to say was: Why have we ignored our true roots?" he said.
Contrary to the usual thought, the authors of the book also wrote that the tree of life in the fresco was not an apple tree, but instead a fig tree according to ancient Jewish tradition.
They pointed out that the entire Sistine Chapel is built to the same proportions as the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
The authors believe that the Sistine Chapel might be a "lost mystical message of universal love" that was intended to be decoded.
They also believe that Michelangelo might have gained the knowledge of Judaism while at the court of Lorenzo de Medici in Florence.
Besides all that, the book also says that the paintings carry several attacks on Pope Julius II, who commissioned the work.
Michelangelo painted the prophet Zechariah in the pope's likeness, believably after being disgusted with papal corruption, suggests the book.
One angel behind the picture is "making an extremely obscene hand gesture at the back of his head," the book adds.