Pagan Art In Christian Art

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Borrowing ideas from other sources can date back centuries, it can even be seen in art. Early Christianity had no idea on how to portray Jesus so having no clear image of what Jesus actually looked like lead them to rely on pagan art. Borrowing of pagan art can be seen when looking at a portrait of Jesus because their image of is based on the pagan gods Hermes and Apollo. There are two main reasons why Christians use pagan art to create their image of Jesus. The first one being that they wanted to create a picture that represented their faith, but had nothing to go on, which resulted in them using pagan art ideas. The second reason was that Christianity was illegal and anyone using it would be persecuted by the Roman government. So the Christian’s …show more content…
The reason there were less risks when practicing their religion was because the first images Christians developed for Jesus could have been easily mistaken for those of Apollo. One of the images in which pagan art can be seen is in the catacomb painting named The Good Shepherd, Orants, and the story of Jonah. For Christians this painting depicts Jesus as the Good shepherd, but as for the pagans they believed that the Good Shepard was their god Apollo. Some other similarities between Apollo and Jesus is that they are associated with light and are both seen as the Good Shepherd. Apollo was known as the sun god who is in control of rising and setting and the Christians used the image of Apollo to make a connection to Jesus and see it his death and resurrection. They have many symbolic similarities making it fairly easy for Christians to disguise Christian activity when the religion was …show more content…
In the eyes of the pagans the story of Jonah represents a biblical scene where God has caused Jonah to be thrown overboard and swallowed by a sea monster then released three days later. However, the Christians interpretation of the painting is that it is the death and resurrection of Christ. This reveals that Christians really did utilize pagan art to disguise Christian activity and even when Christianity was legalized and announced the state’s religion Christian kept pagan traditons in their art. This can be seen in a mosaic located in the Oratory of Galla Placidia called The Good Shepherd which was created after Christianity was made the state religion but states that the “image still imbued with pagan spirit”. Even though Christians had the option to create a completely new image they decided to make only a few changes to claim “the triumph of a new faith”. This painting is not the only piece of Christian art that used pagan traditions pagan traditions can also be seen in the Sarcophagus of Junius

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