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The Art of the Roman Catacombs: Themes of Deliverance in the Age of Persecution

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The Art of the Roman Catacombs: Themes of Deliverance in the Age of Persecution.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Gregory S. Athnos(Author)

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Every story in catacomb art is a tale of deliverance, a tale of the powerlessness of death and the certainty of the resurrection. God delivers us from the consequences of death situations and gives us life instead. In our view of the history of Christian art it appears the crucifixion of Jesus holds the highest place. When we look back thirteen hundred years it indeed does. We haven't looked back far enough. We need to go back to the beginning, those first three centuries after Jesus walked among us, and search the dark corridors of those subterranean burial chambers of the persecuted Christians. There we find a much different theology at work: a theology with resurrection hope and power at the center. What I saw in the catacombs jarred me into a new reality: no crosses--no death themes. Deliverance and resurrection reign supreme. Reclaiming the power and centrality of Jesus' resurrection became the single, fervent challenge of my study and, even more, the challenge of my life. The entire collection of Christian art in the catacombs created during the first three centuries, and there are thousands of works, mirrors the truth of deliverance and resurrection promise declared gloriously by the authors of the New Testament Epistles. If catacomb art were all we had of Christian theology and practice from the period of Roman persecution--no Scriptures--we would have no choice but to conclude that the first message of the Christian faith was the Easter gospel. "The Art of the Roman Catacombs: Themes of Deliverance in the Age of Persecution" is the culmination of thirty-seven years of research in the catacombs of Rome by author Gregory S. Athnos. His book, which includes more than fifty art plates, is an attempt to see this treasure of art as more than art; it is a veritable theology of the early pre-legalized Church.

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Book details

  • PDF | 162 pages
  • Gregory S. Athnos(Author)
  • Outskirts Press (September 13, 2011)
  • English
  • 3
  • Christian Books & Bibles

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Review Text

  • By JWesley on March 13, 2012

    The Art of the Roman Catacombs is a beautiful book. The art from the catacombs of Rome presented in the book is clear and detailed allowing the reader to examine the interpretations provided by Athnos. I found the historical summary in the first chapter of the book helpful. It is not extensive, but helps the reader remember the challenges facing Christians in Rome during the first three centuries and place that in context with the art.Athnos honors those who lost their lives as martyrs and were buried in the catacomb by trying to understand the theology reflected in their art depicted in frescoes, etchings and carvings. His writing is clear and easily understood. He is not dognmatic about his interpretations but seems to invite the reader into the discussion about the statements being made through the images. There is a bit of mystery in the book. Athnos writes, "Most amazing is the complet absence of any death themes or crosses until the legalization of Christianity in 313A.D." My interest in the catacombs was sparked by this awareness after a visit to St Priscilla's Catacomb. The message Athnos finds in the catacombs is one of hope and deliverance. His interpretations of images from Hebrew and Greek stories and myths bear witness to the faith and courage of those who laid their dead beneath Rome with confidence in God's power to renew and restore. His suggestions about a Resurrection Eucharist or Lord's Supper hold a great deal of interest. Imagine fish on the table with bread and wine. Athnos does not claim to be a theologian, but his work invites the reader to consider how early Christians viewed God. A church seeking to understand Christianity in its infancy may look at early scriptures and at the writings of the church that appear in the first three centuries. But if art reflects culture it would seem important to also look at the art that grew out of the early church in Rome. This book is an invitation to see how that church was hopeful, courageous and obedient.

  • By teri on December 31, 2011

    Professor Athnos' book brings great joy and excitement in presenting Roman Catacomb Art and what the early Christians believed. I have attended Professor Athnos' seminars on this topic. They are the BEST!!! How exciting it is to now have my very own copy of "The Art of the Roman Catacombs." Thank you for publishing this great information to be available to all! This is a great reference as well as a great reminder of how the early Christians persevered through their sufferings and martyrdoms because of Christ. This book is a "must have" for anyone who enjoys art!

  • By Eleni on October 8, 2016

    Some good information

  • By M. Reichard on April 23, 2012

    This book lays out the history, philosophy, and images of belief (not just adornment art) of Christians who lived in Roman times. As a person who likes quick reads packed with knowledge, this one delivers. I was struck by the sincerity and fervent belief of early Christians. Professor Athnos makes following along easy with subheadings that keep you on track as you read. He draws conclusions that you can apply to your life right now. I found this book lifted my spirits in a way that makes the darkness around me less onerous because I now understand something I previously did not. There is no other Roman Catacomb expert who can take you on the personal tour that Professor Athnos does!


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