William Holman Hunt (b. London, 2 April 1827; d. 7 September 1910), The Light of the World (1851-1853 – painted during his 24th to 26th years), located in a side Chapel off of the main Chapel at Keble College, Oxford in England.
About the Artist
William Holman Hunt worked as an office clerk in London from age 12 to 16 (1839-1843). During these early teen-age years his consuming passion for drawing caused him to attend Drawing classes at night. His parents opposed his desire to make the practice of Art his career, an opposition his doggedness and devotion to Drawing eventually overcame. After three tries, and at the age of seventeen (1844), he won a place at the Royal Academy Schools. His work caught the interest of the artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882). Through their friendship, and with John Everett Milais (1829-1896), they established a reactionary, or recovery, style of painting that mirrored artistic values cherished by painters in the age before the painter Raphael (1483-1520). They called themselves the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. “His desire to paint in the Holy Land stemmed partly from a strong Christian commitment. This was the result of a conversion that, according to Holman Hunt’s letter of August 1853 to Thomas Combe, he experienced during the painting of the Light of the World (1851–3 CE; Oxford, Keble College), a work destined to become, through replicas and engravings, the most popular Protestant picture of the 19th century.”
20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.* 21 I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne, as I myself first won the victory and sit with my Father on his throne.”k 
First, notice the “liminal” or crossing-place expressions in the painting. The Door before which the Christ stands marks a threshold (i.e., a “liminal” space). The Dawn is the threshold between night and day, between light and darkness. The Crucified One wears two crowns: one of thorns and one of a glorious King – a threshold between two, but interlaced, kinds of Kingship. We should consider this painting as capturing something of Hunt’s experience of conversion to Christ, a conversion that always includes a crossing-over, a “revaluation of all one’s values” in light of this relationship one discovers, and to which relationship a person, step by step, learns how to respond.
Second, notice how the Christ is looking at us, at us who stand before the painting. When we knock at a door, it is typical that a person looks toward the door, even his or her ears reach beyond it, listening for the sound of steps approaching the door from the other side. We never look sideways while knocking as Jesus is doing here. Why is He looking at us? He shifts the threshold of the painting from that of the weed-choked door to the threshold that is the surface of the painting (another kind of Door), that thin space lying between the Christ looking at us and we looking at Him.
Third, notice the Lamp that the Christ carries in His left hand – an external Sign for the Light that the Christ is (see the “halo” around His head – the outward expression of inner Light and evidence of His comprehensive holiness of life). The biblical text – Revelation 3:20 – makes no mention of the time of day. So why did Hunt decide to have the Christ out walking in the night, finding the Door by means of the lamp that He holds, arriving there just as Dawn is breaking over the world?
This line taken from the Gospel (Mark 13:33-37) designated to be read on the First Sunday of Advent – 35 Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. 36 May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’ ” 
 The Oxford English Dictionary at the noun “conversion” – 9. Theological meaning – “The turning of sinners to God; a spiritual change from sinfulness, ungodliness, or worldliness to love of God and pursuit of holiness.” In other words, a conversion is a crossing-over from one’s former life to a new life in God.
 Judith Bronkhurst and Lin Barton. “Hunt, William Holman.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press, http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T039544. This quote and all of these biographical facts I have taken from this important source book.
* Christ invites all to the messianic banquet in heaven; cf. Is 25:6; Lk 14:15; 22:30.
k Lk 22:28–30; Mt 19:28.
 The Oxford English Dictionary defines the noun “liminal” – 2. “Characterized by being on a boundary or threshold, esp. by being transitional or intermediate between two states, situations, etc.”, which meaning the OED notes has been influenced by the meaning of the word as used in cultural anthropology: 3. “Of or relating to a transitional or intermediate state between culturally defined stages of a person’s life, esp. as marked by a ritual or rite of passage; characterized by liminality.”
 The Oxford English Dictionary at “threshold”, an Old English noun (c. 888 CE) writes: “The piece of timber or stone which lies below the bottom of a door, and has to be crossed in entering a house; the sill of a doorway; hence, the entrance to a house or building.” Later and extended meanings pick up the idea of a crossing-place.
 I am playfully quoting a famous line from the atheist Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900 CE) in a way completely opposite to what he meant by it in his work The Antichrist (published in 1895). In that work he articulates his position (and one largely influenced by the ancient Greco-Roman scale of values) that Christianity is a menace to humanity, because it is a “religion of pity”, which gives preference and honor to humans who are weak, ill-made, unimpressive, and unworthy, and which religion then fails to esteem those people who are gifted, impressive, successful, and worthy … and who have a habit of despising those who are not up to their standards. Of course, the problem with this view of Nietzsche is that it turns out that it is exceptionally difficult to respond to God and to that way of being a human being that the incarnate Son lived out for us so that we might with the Spirit’s help imitate Him. It is so challenging that even the most gifted, in Nietzsche’s sense of “gifted”, often utterly fail that challenge.