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The Invisible God : The Earliest Christians on Art - Paul Corby Finney

The Invisible God

The Earliest Christians on Art

Paperback Published: 18th September 1997
ISBN: 9780195113815
Number Of Pages: 352

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This revisionist study challenges the received opinion that in its earliest manifestations Christianity was a form of religiosity opposed both on principle and in fact to the use of pictures. Paul Corby Finney argues that the well-known absence of Christian pictures before A.D. 200 is due to a complex interplay of social, economic, and political factors, and is not, as is commonly assumed, a result of an anti-image ideology. The book documents the origins of Christian art based on some of the oldest surviving Christian archaeological evidence, and it seeks to show how the Christian products conformed to the already-existing pagan types and models. This study will interest scholars and students in the fields of church history, ancient history, archaeology, art history, classics, and historical theology.

"This is a major book about a major topic....Clearly written, at times elegant and provocative....Finney's book was a pleasure to read and will be promptly recommended to my students."--The Journal of Religion "This book is both learned and ground-breaking....Finney's work is an important contribution to the study of early Christian art history."--Bible Review "This book is the fruit of many years of work by a scholar who is equally at home in the history and literature of the Early Church and in the art and archeology of the surviving monuments. Finney asks basic and searching questions concerning the process whereby Christian art came into being and explores them in depth."--Ernst Kitzinger "Strong erudition and detailed illustration of his thesis bolster Finney's impressive work."--The Bible Today "Finney's work rightly shatters some paradigms and offers significant new insights into the nature and function of early Christian art. Because Finney is so well versed in both early Christian literature and art history he is the right person to do both. This is a ground-breaking work whose thesis should supplant all earlier scholarship on the matter of Christian attitudes toward the visual arts. As a dedicated student of Christian iconography, I feel as if someone has cleared a lot of old dead wood off the land, and made it ready to receive the seeds of new, fresh speculations."--Christian Spirituality Bulletin "Impressive and meticulous....The work is a model of clarity and precision and deserves to be read and argued about by everyone interested in the Late Antique and rhetoric."--Arch. News "The Invisible God is an important book, a fresh and long-needed reexamination of a range of issues in early Christian art and a challenge...to a number of prevailing assumptions in the field. It deserves the attention of classicists, students of art, historians of late antiquity, and patristic scholars. It should be a staple of any college or university library."--New England Classical Newsletter and Journal "A provocative -- dare one say iconoclastic? -- argument....There are many pieces to Finney's argument, making it a book that will both encourage and instruct those who believe there is an inherent compatibility, indeed reciprocal necessity, between Christian faith and the visual arts."--First Things "This is a major book about a major topic....Clearly written, at times elegant and provocative....Finney's book was a pleasure to read and will be promptly recommended to my students."--The Journal of Religion "This is a detailed and welcome study."--American Historical Review "[An] immensely learned book....given his thoroughness and his abundant bibliographies, this is a treasure trove for further explorations....I would also like to pay tribute to the fine prose style of the author. He is a pleasure to "read..."--Commonweal "This book is both learned and ground-breaking....Finney's work is an important contribution to the study of early Christian art history."--Bible Review "Finney's work, in short, enhances both religious and artistic understanding....it can serve not only as a noteworthy contribution to a narrow field of scholarly endeavor, but also as a meditative and contemplative aid to the philosophical, theological, and spiritual values hidden in the simple visual objects that accompanied the immense transition of Christianity from a tiny Palestinian Jewish sect to the eventual dominant religion of the Greco-Roman world."--Cistercian Studies Quarterly "Finney is rigorous in critical historical method and balanced in his judgment of what is knowable and what is not....By his careful historical study, [he] has cleared the ground for a new synthesis on the early history of Christian art."--Restoration Quarterly

Prefacep. vii
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Abbreviationsp. xvii
The History of Interpretationp. 3
Notesp. 11
The Apologists' Attack on Greek Art: History and Literaturep. 15
Notesp. 31
The Content of the Attack on Greek Artp. 39
Notesp. 59
The Emperor's Imagep. 69
Notesp. 88
Christianity Before 200: Invisibility and Adaptationp. 99
Are Bellori 3.29 and Wulff 1224 the Same Lamp?p. 132
Notesp. 135
The Earliest Christian Artp. 146
Painting in the Randanini and Torlonia Catacombsp. 247
Notesp. 263
Invisible Divinity and Visible Religionp. 275
Notesp. 293
Selected Bibliographyp. 299
Illustration Creditsp. 309
Indexp. 313
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195113815
ISBN-10: 0195113810
Series: Earliest Christians on Art
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 18th September 1997
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.52 x 15.65  x 1.96
Weight (kg): 0.6