The Routledge Handbook of Early Christian Art

Robin M. Jensen & Mark D. Ellison, London: Routledge, 2018


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.

(Text from the publisher)

Table of contents

List of figures

List of contributors


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

Part I: Media

  1. Catacomb Painting and the Rise of Christian Iconography in Funerary Art – Norbert Zimmermann
  2. Christian Sarcophagi from Rome – Jutta Dresken-Weiland
  3. Early Christian Sarcophagi outside of Rome – Guntram Koch
  4. Freestanding Sculpture – Heidi J. Hornik
  5. Christian Wall Mosaics and the Creation of Sacred Space – Sean V. Leatherbury
  6. Christian Floor Mosaics: Modes of Study and Potential Meanings – Rina Talgam
  7. Gold Glass in Late Antiquity – Susan Walker
  8. Engraved Gems and Amulets – Jeffrey Spier
  9. Reliquaries and the Cult of Relics in Late Antiquity – Erik Thunø
  10. Ceramics in the Early Christian World – John J. Herrmann, Jr. and Annewies van den Hoek
  11. Panel Paintings and Early Christian Icons – Katherine Marsengill
  12. Christian Ivories: Containment, Manipulation, and the Creation of Meaning – Niamh Bhalla
  13. Textiles: The Emergence of a Christian Identity in Cloth – Jennifer L. Ball
  14. Early Christian Silver: Sacred and Domestic – Ruth Leader-Newby
  15. Early Christian Illuminated Manuscripts – Dorothy Verkerk

Part II: Themes

  1. Early Christian Art and Ritual – Michael Peppard
  2. Picturing the Passion – Felicity Harley-McGowan
  3. Miracles and Art – Lee M. Jefferson
  4. « Secular » Portraits, Identity, and the Christianization of the Roman Household – Mark D. Ellison
  5. The Mosaics of Ravenna – Deborah Mauskopf Deliyannis
  6. Early Christian Art and Archaeology in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Rome – Janet Huskinson
  7. « Early » « Christian » « Art » – Robert Couzin



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