TRANSFORMATIONS OF THE VISUAL
For a long time now, scholars of early Christian art contended themselves to notice that from the first two centuries except literature no art survived, no paintings, no murals, no sculptures, only a few disputed graffiti. In contrast, with the turn of the second to the third century, we find literary indications of Christians producing art, we know of Christian painters like Hermogenes and find impressive and accomplished art works of symbolical and representative artistic expressions, imbued with Biblical imageries.
How can we explain the apparent lack of early Christian art within a world full of images, visual arts, mythologies, dance and music, and how can we account for the change that took place? Initiated by a British Academy funded research project (2010-2012), together with my co-investigator Professor Allen Brent and many participants in London, Rome, Pecs and other places, we are trying to answer these questions, drawing on the parallel project on Marcion, but also approaching these transformational processes within a Greco-Roman and Hellenistic environment from socio-philosophico- and anthropological approaches, making use of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s theory of family resemblance.
As research outcome, a joint monograph by Allen Brent and myself, Transformations: The Social and Historical Demi-Monde of Early Christian Art is about to be published in the series Studia Patristica Suppements (Leuven: Peeters, 2013) together with several volumes of conference papers, given in Rome, Oxford and Pecs by colleagues of the research project to appear in Studia Patristica.