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Book Cover
Author Finney, Paul Corby.

Title The invisible God : the earliest Christians on art / Paul Corby Finney
Published New York : Oxford University Press, 1994
Online access available from:
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Description 1 online resource (xxviii, 319 pages) : illustrations
Contents The history of interpretation -- The apologists' attack on Greek art: history and literature -- The content of the attack on Greek art -- The emperor's image -- Christianity before 200: invisibility and adaptation -- The earliest Christian art -- Invisible divinity and visible religion
Summary This is a study of early Christian (first three centuries C.E.) attitudes toward art. The traditional view is that the early Christians produced no art because they were opposed in principle to visual images. When Christian art finally does appear, it has been considered a popular development and a decline from earlier, more austere spiritual values. Corby Finney here refutes these traditional understandings, through a close examination of the archaeological and literary evidence in its cultural and social context. He finds that it was primarily the Christian belief in the invisibility of God that inhibited the production of images, rather than opposition to images as such. A contributory factor, he believes was the relative invisibility of the Christians themselves within Roman society. Christina art "came out" chiefly when the Christian acquired a legal status and the capacity to own property and to build (and hence to decorate) places of worship. Before this, says Finney, very little differentiated the Christians from society at large, and certainly not outward signs. When they did use decorated material objects (seals and lamps) they drew on symbols already in use.; Offering an important corrective to prevailing views about early Christianity, this study will be of great importance not only to scholars and students of Christian theology and history, but to art historians as well
Analysis Christianity Visual arts
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references and index
Notes Print version record
Subject Art, Early Christian.
Christian art and symbolism -- To 500.
Christianity and culture -- History -- Early church, ca. 30-600.
Fathers of the church.
God -- Knowableness -- History of doctrines -- Early church, ca. 30-600
Form Electronic book
LC no. 93010129
ISBN 0585181462 (electronic bk.)
1423758544 (electronic bk.)
9780585181462 (electronic bk.)
9781423758549 (electronic bk.)
(alk. paper)