Visual Art Portraits and Idolatry

2. The term "catacomb" comes from an ancient reference to the topography of the land near the site of a shrine for lJeter and Paul near the Basilica of San Sebastiano, not far from the area of the Callistus cemetery, containing abandoned possolana or tufo quarries that may have made It easier to construct the subterranean (hafts and tunnels of the catacombs (adtatotum-hni is derived front the f.ieek kata twnrtirsand roughly means "near the hollows1').

Although Christinas were amoqg ihe first groups to construct catacomb«» the practice of tomb decoration was not invented by Christians or practiced uniquely by thenu Wall paintings also adorned the burial chambers and catacombs of non-Christian Romans, both pagans and Jewst and are known far back into antiquity. Bib]iography on catacombs and non-Christian Roman tomb dccoralion (including Jewish tomb catacombs) is now vast. Introductory works inctiidc Craydon K, Snyder, AniP Pace-m; Aichaeotogicai Evidence of Church Life before Covstim-tine, rev, ed. (Macon, Ga.: Mercer Univ. Press, 2003j; Vincenzo Nicolai, Fabri/io Bisconti. and Dnnilo Mazzolen i, The Christian Catacombs of Rome f fisiary Decoration, InicripiioTtst 2nd ed., trans. Crist in a Carol Stella and [.on Ann Tooichette (Regemburg; Schawl I and Steiner, 2002); Paul Corby Finney, The invisible God: The Earliest Christians on An (New York: Oxford Umv. Press, ]994Jh 146-27Fabrizo Mancinelli, Tbe Catacombs of Rome nnd the Origms of Christianity (Florence: Scalah L9SI); lames Stevenson, The Catacombs Rediscovered: Monuments of Early Christianity (London: Thames and I Ludson, ]97S)i L.udwig Hertling and Engelbert IvTschliaum, The Roman Catacombs ¡mil Thei> Martyrs (Milwaukee: Bruce,

4, The assumption ihat Chrislians Were reticent about nrl bccaUse ofjewish proscription* comes up widely in L he older litcra Lure, and Mary Charles Murray summarizes many of these arguments in her seminal article, "Art and the liarly Church," ITS 2fl (L977): 303-6. With i-eg^nd to the matter of social class, gender, education, or authority see, for example, Snyder, Ante Paci-in, IS4—fiS, where he distinguishes between rural "cemetery" Christians and the urban elite, but 1 note that in his revised editio:ih Siiyder takes a more cautious approach to these distinctions and notes the problem of evidence and chronology. Also see Margaret Miles, image as Insight (Boston: Beaco]i: 19S5), 33, where the author argues that "religious imagery delights in themes specific to the stages of women's life experience" and that I he "universality of physical existence articulated by images,. is different from unhTrsallty of the subjective consciousness, articulated by Language," Here, language users include iheologians who are antago-n bt i.c i (j v isua I i mages and d emo nst rait a" fu ndamenla I disd a i n for i ho vast majority of hu ma n beings, ivvrafn imd men, whose perspective wjih based £>n the exigencies of physical existence, in other words for tUe educationally underprivileged who hid not been trained to identify themselves with intellectual activity.13

5. rl1iis argument was cogently made by Mary Charles Murray "Art mid the karly Church " hut also in more recent tests ¡Deluding Finney, The Invisible God, 106-8.

6. For a list of these works, see Charles Murray, "Art and the Early Church," 303 n, 2, Sec also Finney, The Invisible Corf, 99-104. A fairly recent example can be found in an introduction by Margaret Fraier in Kun Weitznuna ed,j The Age of Spirituality: Catalogue of the Exhibition m the Metropolitan Museum of Art, November J A 1977-Februoty 12* 197S (New York Metropolian Museum of Art, 1979), MS; "In the first centuries following Christ's death. Christians, In accordance with tlielr Jewish heritage, did not use religious images is a means of proselytlz ing their young religion."

7. Ernst Kit/lnger, Hyzuntine Art in ¡¡¡e Making (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 19S0), ] Henry Chadwick, The Early Church (Harmondsworth; Penguin, 1 j» 277. Sec Thomas

F. Mathews, The Clash of Gods: A Reinterpretatitm of'Eaily Christian Art, rev. cd, [Princeton; Princeton Univ, Press, 1^99), I ii)^41, where lie suggests that sonic Chrislian art may have come from < Gnostic communities or rcllectcd a "woman's vision of Christ"' in order to explain the apparent androgyny of the iconography.

10. Irenaeui, flaer. 1,25.6 (trans* ANF li351> See Paul Corby Finney "Alcune note 4 proposito dclle imagini Carpocrazione di Gesd^iiAC 57 (19BI): 35-41.

12. Clement, J^rof, 4 (trans. LCI., 140—13). Here Clement refers to the prohibition of idols as found in Deul 4; 19; "and beware lest you lift up your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and Worship their and serve ihem, things that I he Lord your Cod has allotted Loall the peoples under the earth." See also dement, Strom- 6.16.

13. dement, Ptied. 3,11. See Paul Corby Finney, "Image on ringer kings and harly Christian Art," lK)i' 41 (I9ft7;: 1*1-86.

J 5. Ibid., 6.16.12. This passage is discussed by Mary Charles Murray, "Art in the Early Church," 320-21,

16. Plinyh Nat,

l&r Hiid-- Sec also C- Celi. where Ofigeu :lIthose who "hasten tu (cmples and worship images or animals as divinities" as "insane" and those ivho fashion such images as being persons of worthless and wicked character

20. Sec, for instance, Tcrtu 11 ian, Idot. 15; and Speci. 11,

22. For a good discussion of this subject , sec Robert M. Grant, God? and the One God (PhiJadelphia: Westtninster, 1, chaps. 3 and 4h f45-cn I. A rich prti eritation <>f ilLe viitiaI culture of th^ time is found i]i Jai Eisner, Imperial Rome and Christian Triumph: '¡'he An of the Reman Empire AD )00^i50 [Oxford; Oxford Univ. Press, 1LJ98).

23. Minucins Felix, Oit. 8,4; 'lertullian, idol 1 L7. Sec G. Clarke's helpful footnote in his translation and edition, The Octavius of Marcus Minuetus Felixt ACW 39 (New York: Newman, 1974), 211 n. 110. Compare the rabbis' similar instruction to Jews described below, ji. 39.

25. Cyprian,Ltipi, 26; Ep,3]-7,1, ;ind Ep- 5S.9J, (Clarke (trans- and annolator, The Letters of

Cyprian, vol, 2, ACW 44 [ Mew York: Newman, 19&4], 1^9 n. 31) also calls the reader s attention to the Council of Klvira, canon 59h which prohibits Christians from attending pagan sacrifices,

27. In addition to the examples cited above (Qeroent, Prat. 4; Origen, Gsflfc 4.31; "I en j I -lian idol. 4.2)h sec a]so'lertullianhM43rr. 2,22; 122jand Spect. 20,3. Also see Flniiey, The Invisible. God, 101-3.

28. See Robert M. Grant, ,LThe Decalogue in Early Christianity," HTR 40 (15>47): 1-17, and summary discussion in Mary Charles Murray "Art in the Lurly Church" 307—6j on the linc of the Decalogue in e;Lrly Chrisiian teaching and theology.

29, On the Deuteronomic reform and aniconbm see Joseph Gutmann,"Deuteronomy: Religious Reformation Or Iconoclastic Rcvolut ion?" in The Image and the Word, ed, J. Gutmann (Missoula, Mont,: Scholars* 1977)b 5—25,

30, On Jewish ankonism and Decalogue proscription, sec T- N, D, Met tinker, Nq C^^Pi Image? Israelite Afliconism in Its Ancient jVt'cir Efliffrn Context (Stockholm: Almquist and Wik-sell, 1995), especially b\$ last chapter,"Prom West Semitic Aniconism to Israelite lconocLasm,:i where be concludes that Israelite aniconism emerges from a long cultural hUtory of Wejt Semitic aniconism and is not unique to Israel itself, nor is it based on particularly Jewish theologies I reflect ion or teac h ing, L 91-97. See the older work o f' Joseph Gut ma n n, ILDeu teronomy: Religions Reformation"; and idem, 'The Second Commandment and the [mage in Judaism," in Nq Gmven Image*; Studies n Art and the Hebrew Bib ft, Lid, J. Gutmann (New York; Ktav, l:>71), 3-1.4* where he says that Deuteronomy more than any othtr book in the Bible, stresses the exclusive worjhlp of an invisible deity, and he cites scholarship ihat claims that Israelite aniconism cannot be dated before the eight li century b.c,f. Also, C. H. T I Letcher-Louis, "The Worship of Divine Humanity as God's Image,19 in The Jewish ¿¿noli of Christological Monotheism, ed. C. Newman et aL ( Leiden: Brill, 1999), 120-2 3. Regarding the matter of the invisibility of God, sec discussion below, chaps. 3 and 4.

31, See losephus, Anf. S,]95 (on Solomon); and C. Ap. 2,71-78 (on the Roman imperial cult). Compare Tacitus, Hist. 5,5, which says that Jews set up no statues in their cities—either of their kings or to tlic Roman emperor,

32+The conflict between Jew; and Romans is discussed in chap- 2, with fuller textual citations I Ant 17.3—4; lfl.3. J;andiiL/. 2.9.2).

33.1'liibj Deaxl 14.65-itt, irans. C- IX Yonge, Tiie Works of Philot New Updated Edition (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 199?}, 324,

35, Philo, Gijirart 13,53-59, trans, Yongc, The Works ofPhih 156.

36, 'Tlic assumption lhat Judaism was an entirely n. iconic religion was shattered with i he discovery of ihc Dura liuropos Synagogue and then further undermined by the finding of decoralive pavement mosaics in the remains of ancient synagogues in Israel, figurative paintings in the Jewish catacombs of Rome and the like." Among the earliest to discuss these matters were Erwin R. Goodenough, Jewish Symbols in the Greco-Raman Period, 13 vols, (New York: Pantheon, 1953-fifl); and J. Gutmann, ed.> No Graven Imugei. About general assumptions that Judaism was a consistendy aniconic religion see the summary chapter in Margaret Olin, The Nation without Art: Examining Modern Discourses on Jewish An (Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2001), 5-31, See Steven Fine's very helpful work on Jewish art and aniconism in Late Antiquity» including"Iconodasm and the Arl of Late Antique Palestinian -Synagogues,3" in Fnym Dura to Sepphvris: Studies in Jewish j4rr find Society in Lute Antiquity, ed. Lte I Li vine and ZthCV IrtfeiSS, Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series 40 [Portsmouth: ILL: Journal of Roman Archaeology, 200 i I, IS 3-94.

37, R. Aklba allowed Jewish artisans to continue in their craft, even making idols for the Geutile trade, so long as they did not practice idolatry themselves: Jerusalem Talmud, 'Abodah Z&rah 4:4, See Rachel Hachlili, "Synagogues in the Land of Israel*" in Sflcred Realm: The Emergence of the Synagogue in die Ancient World* ed. S, Fine {New York; Oxford Univ, Press; Yeshiva University Museum, 1996), 111-29, for a helpful discussion of Jewish art and attitudes toward visual art in Late Antiquity.

3$. Jerusalem Talmud, *Abodah Zarah 3:3N 42d- See the much later redaction of the Viar-yum Pseudo-Jonathan, which is an Aramaic paraphrase of Lev 26: I. This restates the prohibition of Idols but allows pavements with images and likeness so long as they are not objects of worship.

39. Compare Jerusalem Talmud, 'Abodah Zarah 3.U 42b-c: Rabbi Yohanan explains that one should avoid looking at (he idols except when they fall to i he ground, citing Ps 37:34* while Rabbi Judah says that one should not look ¡«1 them at a 1140. See discussion in Grant, Gods and the One Gvdt chap. f>, pp. 75-&S; alst> Finney, The Invisible God, 26-31.

41. This last identification can be found in David tiirtlldge and Keith l:\lliott, Art mid the Chriiiinn Apocrypha (London: Routledge, 2001), 36.

42. See, tor example, Lactantius's description of the church at Nicomedia, destroyed on orders of Diocletian and Galerius, and described as a "lofty edifice," Aiorr. 12.

43. Sec Kurt Weitzmann and Herbert L. Kessler, The Frescoes of the Dura Synagogue and Christian Art {Washington> D,C-; Dumbarton Oaks* 1990)» for a thorough presentation of Weitzrnanns bifluefitial arg^imenl,

44. (.jouncil of Elvira, canon 36. Latin text and translation in Karl loseph Hetele,Hiif0ir)r iyf the Christian Councils, trans, W. Clark (London; T, & T. Clark, ] ), ] 5 I; see also Jose Vives, CtfrjíiVryí Visigóticos e HiípüTuy-Romanóíi España cristiania. Textos I (Barcelona; ConscioSupc-riod de Investigaciones Cicntífícar:, 1963), 8. Translation variants are discusscd by Edwyn Sevan, Holy hundes (London: George Allejt & Unwin, 1940), 114-15; and Muy Quarks Murray, "Art and the Harfy Church,™ 317 n. 2.

46. Gregory the Great to Serenus Ep. 5.105 (trans.NPNF 13,23). (See also Hp. L L. 13 NPNF 13.53-54,") [For other testimonies to the use of images in churches, see Gregory of Nyssa, Horn. 1^.2 {Laudatio S. Theodori), where he describes the painting of martyrs' hnages: "for painting, even if it is silen t, is capabl c of speaki ng from th e wall and I icing of the greatest ben efif (trans, in Cyril Mango, Art of the Byzantine Empire* 312-1453, Sou rces ami Documents [Toronto: Univ. of Tbronto Press, 36—37), and discussion in chap. 647. Gregory Lo Serenus hp. 11.13 (trans, NPNP 13.53, translation adapted slightly). See Celia Chazelle, "Pictures, Books, and the Illiterate: Pope Gregory I's letters to Serenus of Marseilles,71 Word and Image 6 (1990): 13S-53.

48. See Herbert Kessler, ""Pictures as Scripture in Fifth-Century Ctrnrehes^in Sfudi'fí m Pictorial Narrative (1 .ondon; Pindar, L994), 357-7^,

49. The oldest existing icons arc found at Saint Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai; see Kurt Wcitzmann, The Monaster)' of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai, The icons, vol. I [ Princeton; Princeton Univ. Press, L976), 5-6; and David Talbot Rice and Tamara Talbot Rice, I&ym and T/teir Dating (T.ondom Thames and Hudson, 1976), The icon of Christ Pantocratot certainly is one of ihe oldest and dates to tlic mid-sixth century.

50. See discussion of these funerary sjnages in chap. 2,

51. Trans, taken from Daniel Sahas, Icon and Logos: Sources in Eighth-Century lamoclasm ('I cranio: Umv, of Toronto Press, 19S6).. 134, based on an edition of the Acts of the Council of 787, originsIIv published by G. P, Mansi in 1067 {Sacrorum Cc?pjí:j'¿EC?rríJ-rp río™ et ampUssinvt Cttlieciio, vol, 13),

M. From Mango, The Art oj the Byzantine Empire, J 7, which provides a, longer version of the lene i-, taken from |. B, Pitras collection of fragment^ Spin legi um Salesmetue, I [Paris, ] S52). See PG 20:1543-49, which reproduces the work of P. Boivin (ea, 1700). For a brief, helpful discussion of the textual tradition, see Stephen Gero, "The True Image of Christ: Eusebius' Letter lo Constantia Reconsidered," JTS 32 (L9SI): 460-61 n. 2.

53. Mango, The Art of the Byzantine Empire, 18.

54. Eusebius, Hist 7,18 (trans, NPNF 1.304); also Vir, Cowf, 3,43, where Eusebius describes colossal statues o fl Daniel and the Good Shepherd that Constantine sei up to adorn fountains in Constantinople, According u> NPNF (1, p. 304, coL 2 frul), both Sozomoii, HE 5.21 :Liid Philotforgiu« HE 7also refer to this statue* which (according to J. K, L- Gieseler's, Ecles. Hist,) might have been originally erected to honor an emperor and then re identified by Christians because of the possible Greek inscription including either the word soteri or theo.

56. Mary Charles Murray's arguments arc most persuasive but rarely have been considered since her 1977 "Art and lbc Early Church," 36, and the 198 L response of Gero, "The True Image." Scholars have mainly repeated the text of Eusebius without noting the questions raised about [tsi authenticity nr that it is found only in the: Acts of the Seventh Ecuménica] Council and theßorilegium of Nicephorus of Consta]itiople, who copied out a portion into a work IsnmvTi as "Centra Exwebium et Epiphanidem"5ee sources for teti of Nicepboms as listed and briefly discussed in Gero, ""true Image,1" n. 2.

57. Epiphonius, lest.-, text and trans, in Mango, The Art of the Byzantine Empire, 41, from Georgine Ostrogorsky, ed.h Studien zur Geschichte des byzantinische ttilderstreites (Breslau: Marcus. L92ÍJ), Ci'7. See discussion regarding the authenticity oí ihis and the "Iher fragmenls of Epiphanius in chap, 6, n- 48,


59. (>ee general discussion in chap, 2.

60. Gnostics are still associated with early Christian ¡ mage-making by historians. See Mathews, Clash of Godi, 138-39, or the older and problematic work of Walter l.owrie, Art in the Early Church [New York: Norton, 1947), 12-13,

61. Acts of John 27.

62. Acts of John 28-29, slightly adapted from Tdgar 11 en necke, Neu/ Testament Apocrypha, ed, Wilhelm Schneemelcher» Irans, Robert McL. Wilson (Philadelphia; Westminster, 1959)t

2:220-2 L, The association of a painter's colors with certain virtues appeals also in later Christian literature for example, in Gregory of Nyssa, Anitrm & res... and John i 'hrysoslom, Horn. i CCIfr I 3.3,

Lampridius, Hift,Ajtg. Sir. Alex. 29,264. See discussion in chap. 3.

66. Porphyry, Vit. Plot., found in Stephen Macfceiioa, trans., Pbiittwt The ijiitijic/^ revised by B. S. Page (.New York: fribcr and Faber, 1956), I.

67. Fig, D, in Bentley Lay ton. The Gnostic Scriptures ( Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday. 19S7), 237.

6£. See the exemplions for artiste conferred by legal décrets of Constantino Codex Th&x 13.4.1 and 13.4,2,

70. Liber Potif. 34.9 and 13 (Sylvester), ed. Louis Uuchesne, Le I.iber Pbnlifiealii I (Paris: Boocard, I955L 172, 174, See English trans, by Louise Ropes E.ooniis» Liber Poniificaiii (New York: Octagon, 1965), 47 30..

72. See much more derailed discussion "f these developments in chap, 6,

73. A full discussion of the portrait of Christ follows in chap.

74.1 >iscusscd by George M, À, Ha nfmann.The Con tinuity of Class ical Art : Cultn re. Myth, and Faith," in Ageof Spirituality; A Symposium» ed. Kuri Weitzmann (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 19&Q), 85-Sfi,

73. For seated Christ statuette, see Mathews, Clash of Goth, Johannes K. Kollwitz, "Piobleme der theodosianischen EGunst Roms," RivAC 39 (1963): 222 ^ and Beat lîrenk, "Zwei beliefs des spite r. 4. Jarhunderts" Acta 4 :'1969): 34-55. Low ne claims that this was likely a Gnostic production, implying that its feminine attributes would help identify lC as such J n An irt fAe Early Oiltrrh, 12-13.

76. Sec the discussion of bearded and beardless Christ in chapi 4

77, Augustine, Senn. 195,17, irans. Edmund Hill, The. Hforfa of St, Augustine, pi, I, vol, 3, Sermons (Newly Discovered Sermons), ed. J. Râtelle (Brooklyn: New Cityv 1997)t 193- 94; see chap. 4, pp. 109-10, for more discussion.

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