The Routledge Handbook of Early Christian Art  book cover
1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Early Christian Art

ISBN 9781138857223
Published June 7, 2018 by Routledge
398 Pages

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Book Description

The Routledge Handbook of Early Christian Art surveys a broad spectrum of Christian art produced from the late second to the sixth centuries. The first part of the book opens with a general survey of the subject and then presents fifteen essays that discuss specific media of visual art—catacomb paintings, sculpture, mosaics, gold glass, gems, reliquaries, ceramics, icons, ivories, textiles, silver, and illuminated manuscripts. Each is written by a noted expert in the field. The second part of the book takes up themes relevant to the study of early Christian art. These seven chapters consider the ritual practices in decorated spaces, the emergence of images of Christ’s Passion and miracles, the functions of Christian secular portraits, the exemplary mosaics of Ravenna, the early modern history of Christian art and archaeology studies, and further reflection on this field called “early Christian art.” Each of the volume’s chapters includes photographs of many of the objects discussed, plus bibliographic notes and recommendations for further reading.

The result is an invaluable introduction to and appraisal of the art that developed out of the spread of Christianity through the late antique world. Undergraduate and graduate students of late classical, early Christian, and Byzantine culture, religion, or art will find it an accessible and insightful orientation to the field. Additionally, professional academics, archivists, and curators working in these areas will also find it valuable as a resource for their own research, as well as a textbook or reference work for their students.

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of contributors


  1. Introduction: The Emergence and Character of Early Christian Art
  2. Robin M. Jensen

    Part I: Media

  3. Catacomb Painting and the Rise of Christian Iconography in Funerary Art
  4. Norbert Zimmermann

  5. Christian Sarcophagi from Rome
  6. Jutta Dresken-Weiland

  7. Early Christian Sarcophagi outside of Rome
  8. Guntram Koch

  9. Freestanding Sculpture
  10. Heidi J. Hornik

  11. Christian Wall Mosaics and the Creation of Sacred Space
  12. Sean V. Leatherbury

  13. Christian Floor Mosaics: Modes of Study and Potential Meanings
  14. Rina Talgam

  15. Gold Glass in Late Antiquity
  16. Susan Walker

  17. Engraved Gems and Amulets
  18. Jeffrey Spier

  19. Reliquaries and the Cult of Relics in Late Antiquity
  20. Erik Thunø

  21. Ceramics in the Early Christian World
  22. John J. Herrmann, Jr. and Annewies van den Hoek

  23. Panel Paintings and Early Christian Icons
  24. Katherine Marsengill

  25. Christian Ivories: Containment, Manipulation, and the Creation of Meaning
  26. Niamh Bhalla

  27. Textiles: The Emergence of a Christian Identity in Cloth
  28. Jennifer L. Ball

  29. Early Christian Silver: Sacred and Domestic
  30. Ruth Leader-Newby

  31. Early Christian Illuminated Manuscripts
  32. Dorothy Verkerk

    Part II: Themes

  33. Early Christian Art and Ritual
  34. Michael Peppard

  35. Picturing the Passion
  36. Felicity Harley-McGowan

  37. Miracles and Art
  38. Lee M. Jefferson

  39. "Secular" Portraits, Identity, and the Christianization of the Roman Household
  40. Mark D. Ellison

  41. The Mosaics of Ravenna
  42. Deborah Mauskopf Deliyannis

  43. Early Christian Art and Archaeology in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Rome
  44. Janet Huskinson

  45. "Early" "Christian" "Art"

Robert Couzin


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Robin M. Jensen is the Patrick O’Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, USA, and a member of the faculty of Medieval Institute and the Department of Art, Art History, and Design. Her published work explores the intersection of early Christian iconography, ecclesial architecture, ritual practices, and theological discourse.

Mark D. Ellison is an associate professor in the Department of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University, USA. He received a Ph.D. and M.A. from Vanderbilt University, USA, in Early Christianity and Early Christian Art, and an M.A. from the University of South Florida, USA, in Religious Studies (Biblical Archaeology).


“Combining coverage of the major media of early Christian art and a selection of key themes and issues, this volume of contributions by a galaxy of experts is a treasure-trove for the study of its specific subject and also for wider historical work on early Christianity. Those new to the visual culture of early Christianity will find this a competent guide, and students and scholars of early Christian art also will find here a resource to consult on many matters.” —Larry Hurtado, University of Edinburgh, UK


"This volume certainly plugs a gap in the market. But it also does much more besides: it will be the first point of call not only for advanced undergraduate and graduate students, but also for specialists seeking up-to-date surveys and bibliographic overviews." - Michael Squire, Kings College London