The day I was there, the church was extremely dark on the inside, and I once again regretted not bringing my good camera to England. I used my iPhone to take photos of what I needed.
|Interior of the St. James the Less (note the columns where the sculptures are)|
And one with a flash:
On the left side of the sculpture (left to right), we can see the barren fig tree, the gardener, and the man (with his left arm raised) who says "Cut it down" (those words are carved below the image).
The right side of the carving depicts the actions after the parable where the gardener continues to take care of the plant. He is holding a shovel in his left hand (the blade is shown on the ground between the gardener's legs). He is either watering the plant (less likely) or pouring manure/fertilizer on it (more likely) with a vessel in his right hand.
Many depictions of the parables, since they can function as "sermons," depict different "stages" of the narration. Other sculptures in St. James the Less Church do this as well, as we will see with the sculpture of the parable of the Sower, for example.
The earliest interpretations of this parable argue that the barren fig tree symbolizes Israel (see, for example, the Apocalypse of Peter 2), although Augustine and others interpreted it as symbolizing the whole human race. The gardener is often identified with Jesus, although this sculpture seems to identify the man who says "cut it down" with Jesus by placing a halo over his head (cf. Joachim Jeremias who notes that the gardener could signify Jesus but to the disciples the man calling for it to be cut down might indeed be Jesus; The Parables of Jesus  170-71).
The next post will discuss my photos of the parable of the Sower sculpture.