5 We now turn to the material side of the discussion. In the present chapter
the major fact that needs explaining is the absence of Christian art before
the year 200. Previous efforts to explain this fact have varied in details, but
one of the abiding temptations is to view absence of art as a sign of
principled early Christian opposition to pictorial representation. In light of
the discussion set forth in the previous four chapters, this explanation is no
longer convincing; hence, we must seek a new interpretative paradigm
that will make better sense of the material record as we have it.No distinctively Christian art predates the year 200. This is a simple
statement of fact. It can mean one of two things: Christians created no art
before that date, or what they created has perished. The first explanation
is probably the correct one, but unfortunately the case is far from clear-cut.
The relatively late (after 200) appearance of a distinctively Christian form
of art has been interpreted in the light of these three interrelated generalizations:
Christianity Before 200:
Invisibility and Adaptation
|1. ||The earliest Christians (like their Jewish forebears) opposed on
principle all arts of visual representation.|
|2. ||They were spiritual, (lege: antimaterialistic) people, and this explains their opposition to art.|
|3. ||The earliest Christians were otherworldly, their sights set on the
eschaton or the parousia (or both), and for this reason they produced nothing distinctive in the material realm, art included.|
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: The Invisible God:The Earliest Christians on Art.
Contributors: Paul Corby Finney - Author.
Publisher: Oxford University Press.
Place of publication: New York.
Publication year: 1994.
Page number: 99.
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