Early Christian Art - Jennifer Hevelone-Harper
Truth in Stone and Marble
The early church developed a visual language to express their faith in art
by Jennifer Hevelone-Harper
While in our own time the visual arts are largely thought of as a sphere separate from Christian faith, this is an anomaly historically. For most of the last two millennia, Christian art was the norm. Painters and sculptors, like musicians, saw their work as bringing glory to God. Churches, private chapels, and tombs were adorned with explicitly Christian images that communicated the faith of artists, patrons, and their communities. We see bits of this art preserved in museums and European cathedrals, but we rarely see the art functioning in its original liturgical context, contributing to a worshipful environment. To better appreciate what is missing from our worship spaces today, it helps to explore Christians' first attempts to express their faith through images.