Early Christian art

Authored by: Robin M. Jensen

The Routledge Handbook of Early Christian Art

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138857223
eBook ISBN: 9781315718835
Adobe ISBN:


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Little identifiable material evidence for Christianity can be dated prior to the beginning of the third century. Although scholars have offered varied explanations for this arguably slow emergence of distinctively Christian artifacts, many now stress the continuity rather than differences of Christian visual art and that of its surrounding communities. This chapter considers these problems, while also arguing for an evolving catalog of iconographic subjects and themes, beginning with fairly stock motifs to which more recognizably Christian depictions of biblical stories were added through the mid-third and early fourth centuries. The adoption of imperial motifs and the growing popularity of dogmatically inspired and non-narrative portraits of Christ, the saints, and apostles characterize a further development in the late fourth and early fifth centuries.

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