Jewish and Christian SyncretismArt of Late Antiquity with Classical Influences
DISCLAIMERThis presentation is an overview of the material in your text. It is notcomprehensive, nor is it meant to be. This presentation allows you to introduceyourself to concepts and images in the respective chapter. Best practice saysto view this presentation with your book open, as many of the images in thispresentation are small or incomplete.
Guiding Question• How does syncretism work to ease the conflict between two culture—specifically, paganism and Christianity?• As Christianity becomes more and more endorsed by the government, how does Christian imagery change in doctrinal shifts? GREEK Athenian Calf-bearer, AthensGreece and CHRISTIAN Christ as GoodShepherd in Roman Catacombs, Rome, Italy
Guiding HistoricalEvents• In 313 CE, the Edict of Milan is issued by Constantine granting religious freedom to pagans, Jews, and Christians• Constantine moves his Capitol from Rome to Constantinople (modern Istanbul, Turkey)• In 380, Christianity is proclaimed the official religion of the Roman Empire, and in 391, pagan worship is bannedGREEK Seated Philosopher Anaximander and CHRISTIAN Christ as Seated Philosopher
Constantine moves his capitol from Rome to Constantinople, modern Istanbul, Turkey. Out of this new capitol will grow the Byzantine world covered in the next presentation. Christianity is a religion of the East, with the earliest artistic developments coming out of Syria and rising in Rome. Remember, when we talk about early Christians, we mean those Christians of the 3rd and 4th centuries CE, NOT those who knew Christ. Constantine moves his capitol from Rome to Constantinople, modern Istanbul, Turkey. Out of this new capitol will grow the Byzantine world covered in the next presentation.Where in the world are we?
Monotheistic Changes• While Roman religious practice is civic and obligatory, Monotheistic faiths, Judaism and Christianity, practice their faith in intimate communities.• Monotheistic doctrines and narratives are understood only by the initiated (associations are meaningful only to those in-the-know).• In the example to the right, we see the story of a young King David being anointed by Samuel. The figures are flat, lacking expression, and their Samuel Anointing David, House-Synagogue, Dura-Europos, Syria draperies are told through lines rather than modeling. The STORY is more important to the community than the STYLE it is represented with.
Christian Changes• Early Christians believe that there is only one God--the Creator-- and Christ is the Messiah. Belief in the Messiah earns one the right to an eternal life in Heaven. Debates about the nature of Christ, whether he is man, God, or a combination of both, are part of Early Christian periods.• Early Christian worship centers around the sacrament of the Eucharist (bread and wine) and transubstantiation (the miraculous changing of substances into the physical and actual body and blood of Christ).• Christian sacred writings include the New Testament (four gospels, letters to converts, and a book of Revelation), the Old Testament (the Hebraic Torah, which Constantine demands be included), and many other gospels and texts that will later be considered heretical (such as the Gnostic Gospels).• Christian doctrines are determined in a series of Councils, beginning with the Council of Nicaea, convened by Constantine in 325. These doctrines will change greatly over the next thousand years, leaving the Christianity of today looking quite different than it did in its inception.
Religious Syncretism The fusion of diverse religious beliefs and practices. -- Britannica Online Encyclopedia • As pagans convert to Christianity, they carry with them a cultural memory of the pagan world • To ease the process of conversion, familiar pagan images are given new, Christian meanings which make the new doctrines easier to adopt • Manifests itself in iconography that can be read from both a pagan and Christian perspectiveGREEK Venus Pudica; ROMAN Equestrian Statue ofMarcus Aurelius, Rome, Italy; CHRISTIAN Adam andEve and Christ entering Jerusalem on an ass, detail from Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus, Rome, Italy
Examples of Syncretic Work The plan of Santa Costanza in Rome, Italy (above) is reminiscent of the Greek and Roman tholos. The mosaics there (below) combine images of Christ and Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, and Christ as Sol Invictus, the Roman god of the Sun. Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus, Rome, ItalySelf Study:What do you recognize that is pagan (architectural andsculptural forms, drapery styles, physical expressionsand stances)? Iconography can be read from both apagan and Christian perspective; pagan forms aregiven a new, Christian meaning.
Christian Architecture Santa Sabina, Rome, ItalySelf Study:In your text, look at the plan of Saint Peters (image tothe right), established on what Constantine believed tobe the burial spot of Peter, disciple to Christ and thefirst Pope of the Church. How is it similar in layout tothe Roman courthouse? How is it similar to Romanresidences? Why might those similarities serve thepurpose of a new Christianity?
Christian Architecture, Cont. Christians worship differently than Roman pagans, so early Christians have different architectural needs. Churches need to hold thousands of congregants. Christians worship communally and, early on, without a hierarchy, so there is only one entrance. Christians want to distinguish themselves from their pagan Santa Sabina, Rome, counterparts, so churches are austere on the exterior and Italy ornamented for the initiated onSelf Study: the interior. This does not mean that Christian churchIn your text, look at the interiors of Early Christian builders wont appropriatechurches. How are mosaics used differently spolia, i.e. the columns at Santa Sabina are from paganthan in Roman residences? temples.
Christian Mosaics As Christianity is more and more legitimized by the State, images of Christ change. Here, he is no longer the intimate, protecting Christ but the enthroned Christ of cosmological and political power. Christ as Good Shepard, Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna, Italy Christian mosaics are no longer decorative floor items (as for the Romans), but rather instructional and devotional narratives teaching Christian doctrines and stories. Mosaics Christ in Majesty, Saint Apollinaire Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy Christ in Majesty, Saint Apollinaire Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy are especially useful as they can seem to glow in theSelf Study: candlelight of the Church,Look at the various images of Christ in your text. How have images of adding to an alreadyChrist changed in several hundred years of Early Christianity? What new kinesthetic worship.colors, symbols, attributes is he given as Christianity has become the Statereligion? Why do you think that is?
In subsequent presentations, you willexplore:• Byzantine Art Overview• Frontline’s From Jesus to Christ online gallery• The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey and San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy