An Adaptable Development of Ecclesiastical Art

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An Adaptable Development of Ecclesiastical Art

Although Christian art is now seen as a major part of the Christian religion, during the first three centuries of the church there was no Christian art and the church generally resisted it. Clement of Alexandria criticized religious art by calling it pagan. In his view, it encouraged people to worship that which had been created rather than the Creator (3, 79). But by mid-3rd century pictorial art began to be used and accepted in the Christian church but not without fervent opposition in some congregations. Warnings against this development were voiced by such leading theologians as Eusebius, who being the most diligent glorifier of Constantine, characterized the use of images of the Apostles Paul and Peter as well as of Christ himself as a pagan custom (1,1).

One reason that some Christians balked at the idea of icons was because of the emperor's cult. It was through anti-Christian legislation that Christians were compelled to venerate the imperial images by offering sacrifices to them. The refusal to make the sacrifice was the chief cause of martyrdom at the time. Thus, after the church was recognized as the Roman imperial church, its reaction was expressed in the riotous destruction of the pagan divine images.

Although it is some Protestants belief that the development of ecclesiastical art was a part of the entire process of the church's inner decay and corruption, the church developed a form of art particular to its needs. But Christian art developed at a slower rate. This was due partially to its origins in Judaism. In addition to a faith in God the Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth, and faith in the uniqueness and holiness of God, Christianity also ...

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...t in the west adjusts itself at any given time to the total disposition of the church and also to the specific needs. Art in the west has also been shaped by the imaginative fantasy of the individual artist, therefore, the church of the west is much more individualized thereby allowing for an adaptable development of ecclesiastical art.


Works Cited

1. Christianity: Art and Iconography. Britannica Online. 2 December, 1996.

2. Medieval Sourcebook: John of Damascus: In defense of Icons, c. 730. Internet. 27 November, 1996.

3. Newton, Eric, and William Neil. 2000 Years of Christian Art. Harper and Row:

New York, 1966.

4. The New Scofield Study Bible. New International Version. Oxford University Press:

New York, 1967.

5. Van Der Meer, F. Early Christian Art. The University of Chicago Press:

Chicago, 1959.
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