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The Invisible God

Paul Corby Finney (Oxford University Press: Sep 18, 1997), 352 pages.

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.

Table of Contents

    • Abbreviations
    • 1. The History of Interpretation     3
    • 2. The Apologists’ Attack on Greek Art: History and Literature     15
    • 3. The Content of the Attack on Greek Art    39
    • 4. The Emperor’s Image     69
    • 5. Christianity Before 200: Invisibility and Adaptation     99
    • 6. The Earliest Christian Art     146
    • 7. Invisible Divinity and Visible Religion     275
    • Selected Bibliography     299
    • Illustration Credits     309
    • Index     313