From the conversion of the emperor Constantine in the early fourth century, vast sums of money were spent on the building and sumptuous decoration of churches. The resulting works of art contain many of the greatest monuments of late antique and early medieval society. But how did such expenditure fit with Christ's message of poverty and simplicity? In attempting to answer that question, this study employs modern theories on the use of metaphor to show how physical beauty could stand for spiritual excellence. As well as explaining the evolving attitudes to sanctity, decorum and display in Roman and medieval society, detailed analysis is made of case studies of Latin biblical exegesis and gold-ground mosaics so as to counterpoint the contemporary use of gold as a Christian image in art and text.
' ... effectively aligns language and art to address fundamental questions of symbolic communication and interpretation in late Antiquity ... Janes utilizes superbly the language of art and literature to make vivid to the reader the interdependence of the two ... This book fills a need in the field, as it complements the recent work of Peter Brown, Thomas Matthews, Henry Maguire, Averil Cameron and Lix James, among others ... we can now perceive the 'visual theatre' of church interiors in a new way.' Church History ' ... the book is engaging and stimulating, containing much thought-provoking material ... Janes is to be commended for a study which leaves its readers in no doubt of the centrality of luxury materials in conveying the message of the late Antique church.' Antiquity 'God and Gold in Late Antiquity gives a good and often quite beautiful picture of this interaction, [between earth and heaven] and of the means used to achieve it. In his introduction the author says he is an atheist, this is the only superfluous statement in the book.' Der Volksrant ' ... a thought-provoking book ... impressive for its depth of knowledge, its bringing together fields usually studied in isolation, and the scope of its argument'. Early Medieval Europe