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Title: The image of Christ in Late Antiquity : a case study in religious interaction
Author: Levine, Adam
ISNI:       0000 0004 2735 0238
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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This dissertation focuses on images of Christ that date from the first half of Late Antiquity, defined as the three centuries between AD 200 and 500. The cultural dynamics of this period left a distinct impression on Christian art, and this dissertation traces that impact. Unlike other studies that attempt to resolve ambiguity within the corpus of Christ images, the argument here maintains that ambiguity was a key component in the creation and subsequent interpretation of the Late Antique Christian iconography. The dissertation proceeds in three parts, each comprising two chapters. In the first section, the history and historiography of the image of Christ is explored, and a methodology capable of accommodating the diverse meanings assigned to the Christ’s discrepant and ambiguous iconographies is developed. In order to better understand the socio-religious environment in which the first images of Christ were produced and interpreted, the second section of the dissertation moves away from material culture and towards method and theory. The notion that interpretation is a group level phenomenon is critiqued, and a model explaining how individuals in Late Antiquity could have made sense of ambiguous images of Christ is advanced. The final section turns back to the material culture and applies the framework developed in the second section to two artworks: (1) the sarcophagus of Junius Bassus and (2) the floor mosaic from the Hinton St. Mary Roman Villa now in the British Museum. By complementing the standard analyses of Christian art with interpretations grounded in the diverse interactions viewers had with artworks, new perspectives will emerge that provide a fuller picture of Late Antique Christianity and the iconography of its godhead alike.
Supervisor: Elsner, Jas ; Rosser, Gervase Sponsor: Rhodes Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Art ; Visual art and representation ; Roman archeology ; History of the ancient world ; Late antiquity and the Middle Ages ; Christianity and Christian spirituality ; Religions of antiquity ; Image of Christ ; Christianity ; Late Antiquity