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|Title:||The "Heretical" Origins of Early Christian Art|
|Authors:||Rigby, Jane Miriam|
|Abstract:||<p>This thesis deals with a paradox: the early Christian Fathers, who were active before the Edict of Milan of 313 CE, were firmly against art, while at the same time, Christians were busy producing a mass of monumental artistic works such as those which are found in the Roman catacombs. An examination of the Fathers stance in relation to the existence of the artistic monuments led to an investigation of secondary literature on the subject. This revealed that both historians of religion and art unquestioningly accepted the Fathers as orthodox. That is, the Fathers represented the majority of Christians and were the official voice of the Christian church, the centre of which was seen to be at Rome.</p> <p>But the great mass of art was produced in Rome and, with the exception of Justin Martyr, none of the Fathers were active in the city. Is it possible then, to equate the Fathers with Rome and with orthodoxy? Who were the Roman Christians who produced the art? They obviously did not adhere to the Fathers' aniconic opinions. Because these art-producing Christians did not follow the Fathers' dicta, would this automatically make them heretics as the Fathers intimate?</p> <p>This problem must be approached from another perspective. The ultimate authority of the Fathers and their iconophobic position in their own time must be re-examined. It will be seen that they may not have been as influential during their own lifetimes as their writings have been for posterity. By freeing the Fathers from their straight-jacket of dictatorial orthodoxy, they can be perceived as a protesting provincial faction who tried to warn Roman art-producing Christians of the dangers of visual images. At the same time, those Roman Christians who produced the art were not heretics, but were the nucleus of those groups in Rome who, within a century, were to consolidate their control over the various Christian factions in the eternal city. It was this group of Christians who were to be come the winning orthodoxy recognized by the Edict of Milan.</p>|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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