A Journey into Christian Art

A Journey into Christian Art

A Journey into Christian Art

A Journey into Christian Art

Synopsis

This lavishly illustrated book guides the reader on a vast visual pilgrimage along the paths of Christian art-through the ages and into the heart of Christianity itself.

Excerpt

'God created man in his own image,' we are told in the first chapter of: Genesis. and from the dawn of time, people have worshipped deities that were carved or painted in their own likeness. Only the Jews – then Muslims and, later, strict Protestants – did not, for their religious laws forbade graven images. Imagery was restricted to words, and as a result the Old Testament is rich in poetic literature.

But then God became man in the form of Jesus Christ. He was born in Palestine, of the Jewish people, but into the Graeco-Roman world. His cradle was the Pax Romana accomplished by Emperor Augustus. Jesus also brought peace, but it was not a peace of this world. and he brought the uncompromising love of the creator which the world finds so difficult to recognize and receive. He was sentenced to death by the Roman procurator on trumped-up charges and suffered the hideous humiliation and agony of dying on a cross — for love. It was not the end but the completion of the beginning. Jesus resurrection and ascent into heaven heralded a new era of salvation through faith in him.

After the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, set alight the followers of Christ, the gospel, or good news about salvation through Christ, was spread abroad. St Paul brought the Christian faith to the non-Jewish world on several journeys along the Roman roads. Like other New Testament writers he uses metaphors to illuminate his message. Hence, in his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul describes our bodies as 'a temple of the Holy Spirit within you' (I Corinthians 6:19). in the letter to the Hebrews, the author writes, 'let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us' (Hebrews 12:1). Idol worship and sport absorbed the people then as now.

It was, therefore, quite natural for the early Christians to use the art forms of the classical world in the service of the gospel: to express their passionate inner convictions, as . . .

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