Imaging divinity: the ‘invisible’ Godhead in early Christian art c.300-c.730

Michael, Georgia (2017). Imaging divinity: the ‘invisible’ Godhead in early Christian art c.300-c.730. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Representations of the Holy Trinity have increasingly come under scrutiny, exposing two competing paradigms at opposite ends of the theological spectrum: the legitimacy and the illegitimacy of imaging the Triune God with focus on the invisible Father who was imaged as an individual from Late Antiquity and beyond. An overview of these two conflicting views has unveiled a number of inconsistencies in how the Early Christian iconography of God the Father and the Trinity has been interpreted. This thesis provides a unique re-evaluation of the surviving Trinitarian visual material between c.300 to c.730.
Primarily, this study collates pictorial evidence preserved in the mediums of sarcophagi, catacomb frescoes, mosaics, illuminated manuscripts and an icon that depicts Divinity. It proceeds to critique modern misconceptions of the identity, form, meaning, function and reception of the depictions. The thesis traces the visual shift amid overt and covert images of Divinity by decoding important artworks such as the Ashburnham Pentateuch and the Codex Amiatinus; Christians visualised explicitly the ' invisibility' of God but created an unprecedented invention, the depiction of the Father through Christ's image. The innovative depiction heralded future visual formulas of Divinity echoing the complexities of Trinitarian material culture of the Mediterranean world.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council, Other
Other Funders: A. G. Leventis Foundation, The University of Birmingham
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BT Doctrinal Theology
D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > ND Painting


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