Early Christian Art


This course critically reviews early Christian and Byzantine art from the 2nd to 6th Century. Its fundamental idea is that early Christian art emerged and evolved as manifestations of the faith’s conversation with its changing cultural contexts. Students will learn to critically engage the role theology, ecclesiology, socio-economics, and politics have in Christian art, with a special emphasis on church/worship architecture as innovative art.


This course explores the following:

  1. the fundamental stages in the development of Early Christian art and architecture
  2. the theological, ecclesiastical, spiritual, and pastoral context of the analyzed material
  3. the relationship between art and theology
  4. the contextual character of early Christian art and architecture.
  5. develop academic skills in careful reading, and critical analysis.


Early Christian Art Course: Presentation from D. H. Pereyra on Vimeo.


Bargebuhr, Frederick Perez, The Paintings of the “New” Catacomb of the Via Latina and the Struggle of Christianity against Paganism. Carl Winter Universitatsverlag: Heidelberg, 1991.

Beckwith, John. Early Christian and Byzantine Art. New York: Penguin Books, 1979.

Bernabò, Massimo. Pseudepigraphical images in early art. North Richland Hills, Tex. : BIBAL Press, 2001.

Bisconti, Fabrizio (ed). Temi di iconografia paleocristiana. Città del Vaticano: Pontificio istituto di archeologia cristiana, 2000.

Brettman, Estelle. Vaults of Memory, Jewish and Christian imagery in the Catacombs of Rome. Rome: International Catacomb Society, 1985.

Bruening Lewis, Elizabeth – Steven H. Helffrich. The Power of Sacred Images: A Guide to the Treasures of Early Christian Art. Christian Classics, 1996.

Lowden, John. Early Christian & Byzantine art. London: Phaidon, 1997.

Caillet, Jean-Pierre. The beginnings of Christian art, 200-395. Paris: Archétype 82, 2007.

Claman, Henry N. Jewish images in the Christian Church: Art as the Mirror of the Jewish-Christian Conflict, 200-1250 C.E. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 2000.

Crippa, Maria Antonietta and Mahmoud Zibawi. L’arte paleocristiana: visione e spazio dalle origini a Bisanzio. Milano: Jaca Book, 1998.

Deckers, Johannes Georg, Hans Reinhard Seeliger, and Gabriele Mietke. Die Katakombe “Santi Marcellino e Pietro” : Repertorium der Malereien = La Catacomba dei Santi Marcellino e Pietro : repertorio delle pitture. Città del Vaticano: Pontificio Instituto di Archeologia Cristiana; Münster: Aschendorffsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1987.

Du Bourguet, Pierre. Art paléochrétien. Paris : Éditions Cercle d’art, 1971.

Duval, Noël. La mosaïque funéraire dans l’art paléochrétien. Ravenna : Longo, 1976.

Elsner, Jaś. Imperial Rome and Christian Triumph: the Art of the Roman Empire AD 100-450. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1998.

Fasola, Umberto M. Catacombs and Basilicas: the Early Christians in Rome. Firenze: Scala Books; [New York] : Distributed by Harper & Row,1981.

Finney, Paul Corby. The invisible God: The Earliest Christians on Art. New York : Oxford University Press, 1994.

Friesen, Ilse. The image of “Christus Pantocrator” in theology and early Christian art. [Toronto], 1984.

Galtier Martí, Fernando. La iconografía arquitectónica en el arte cristiano del primer milenio: perspectiva y convención; sueño y realidad. Zaragoza: Mira Editores, 2001.

Gambassi, Laura. “Nave” in Temi di Icongrafia Paleocristiana. Ed. Fabrizio Bisconti. Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Christiana: Città del Vaticano, Roma, 2000, pp. 228-230.

Gambassi, Laura. “Pescatore” in Temi di Icongrafia Paleocristiana. Ed. Fabrizio Bisconti. Pontificio Istituto di Archelogia Christiana: Città del Vaticano, Roma, 2000, pp. 248-252.

Gambassi, Laura. “Pesce” in Temi di Icongrafia Paleocristiana. Ed. Fabrizio Bisconti.Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Christiana: Città del Vaticano, Roma, 2000, pp. 252-258.

Grabar, André. The Beginnings of Christian Art, 200-395, transl. by Stuart Gilbert and James Emmons. London: Thames & Hudson, 1967.

Hellemo, Geir. Adventus Domini: Eschatological thought in 4th-century apses and Catecheses. Leiden ; New York : E.J. Brill, 1989.

Hutter, Irmgard. Early Christian and Byzantine Art. London: Herbert Press, 1971.

Jensen, Robin Margaret. Face to Face: Portraits of the Divine in Early Christianity. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005.

Jensen, Robin Margaret. Understanding Early Christian Art. London: Routledge, 2000.

Koch, Guntram. Early Christian Art and Architecture: an Introduction. London: SCM Press, 1996.

Krautheimer, Richard. Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture. New Haven : Yale University Press, 1986.

Ladner, Gerhart B. God, Cosmos, and Humankind: The World of Early Christian Symbolism. Translated by Thomas Dunlap. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Lassus, Jean. The Early Christian and Byzantine World. London: Paul Hamlyn, 1967.

Lowrie, Walter. Art in the Early Church. NY: Pantheon Books, 1947.

Mathews, Thomas F. The Clash of Gods: A Reinterpretation of Early Christian Art. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999.

Mazzei, Barbara. “Noè” in Temi di Icongrafia Paleocristiana. Ed. Fabrizio Bisconti. Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Christiana: Città del Vaticano, Roma, 2000, pp. 231-232.

Mazzoleni, Danilo. “Giona” in Temi di Icongrafia Paleocristiana. Ed. Fabrizio Bisconti. Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Christiana: Città del Vaticano, Rome, 2000, pp. 191-193.

Morelli, Gianni. Cercare la bellezza tra Oriente e Occidente: la sinagoga di Dura Europos, il Vangelo purpureo di Rossano, i mosaici di Ravenna. Ravenna : D. Montanari, 2008.

Nasrallah, Laura Salah. Christian Responses to Roman Art and Architecture: The Second-Century Church Amid the Spaces of Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Neyret, Clémence. Art paléochrétien, art byzantin. [Paris]: Desclée De Brouwer, 1973.

Noga-Banai, Galit. The Trophies of the Martyrs: An Art Historical Study of Early Christian Silver Reliquaries. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Milburn, Robert. Early Christian Art and Architecture. Wildwood, 1998.

Morey, Charles R. Early Christian Art. An Outline of the Evolution of Style and Iconography in Sculpture and Painting from Antiquity to the Eighth Century. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1953.

Pani Ermini, Letizia (ed). Christiana loca: lo spazio cristiano nella Roma del primo millennio. Roma : F.lli Palombi, 2000.

Pavia, Carlo. Guida delle catacombe romane: dai “tituli” all’ipogeo di via Dino Compagni. Roma: Gangemi, 2000.

Peña, Ignacio. The Christian art of Byzantine Syria. [England]: Garnet Publishing, 1997.

Perraymond, Myla. Paradigmi di esegesi figurale nell’arte paleocristiana. Roma : Aracne, 2007.

Plazaola, Juan. Historia y sentido del arte cristiano. Madrid : Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, 1996.

Prigent, Pierre. L’art des premiers chrétiens: l’héritage culturel et la foi nouvelle. Paris : Desclée de Brouwer, 1995.

Schapiro, Meyer. Late antique, early Christian and mediaeval art. New York: G. Braziller, 1979.

Shepherd, Massey H., Jr., “Christology: A Central Problem of Early Christian Theology and Art”, in Age of Spirituality, A Symposium, ed. Kurt Weitzmann, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1980.

Smith, Kathryn A., “Inventing Marital Chastity: The Iconography of Susanna and the Elders in Early Christian Art”, Oxford Art Journal, Vo. 16, No. 1 (1993), p. 3-21.

Spier, Jeffrey, Prof. Herbert L Kessler, Steven Fine, and Mary Charles-Murray. Picturing the Bible: The Earliest Christian Art. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.

Temple, Richard, Julius Assfalg et al. Early Christian & Byzantine art: textiles, metalwork, frescoes … and other items from the fourth to the fourteenth centuries. London: Temple Gallery: Element Books, 1990.

Thérel, Marie-Louise. Les symboles de l’Ecclesia dans la création iconographique de l’art chrétien du IIIe au VIe siècle. Roma, Edizioni di storia e letteratura, 1973.

Tristan, Frédérick. Les premières images chrétiennes : du symbole à l’icône, IIe-VIe siècle. [Paris]: Fayard, 1996.

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