The Apostle Paul in Fourth‐Century Roman Art

Stephen Andrew Cooper

in Marius Victorinus' Commentary on Galatians

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780198270270
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603396 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies

The Apostle Paul in Fourth‐Century Roman Art

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This chapter traces the development of the first hundred years of Pauline iconography in all media (sarcophagi, catacomb frescos, church mosaics, small objets d ’art). Particular attention is paid to the variety of ternary scenes featuring the apostles Peter and Paul flanking Christ. The various depictions of Christ (denominated Christus magister and traditio legis) in the scenes with his chief apostles are correlated to the verbal portraits of Paul, and his relation to Christ evident in the early commentaries on the Pauline epistles. Victorinus presents Paul as a direct recipient of Christ’s revelation, and thus as a prime authority in matter of both doctrine and morals; such an understanding of Paul is also suggested by the depictions of Christ with Paul which become common after the mid-point of the fourth century. The development of both Pauline iconography and commentary on the epistles in Rome are shown to be part of the popular piety arising around the various Roman sites claiming the relics of the chief apostles.

Keywords: Pauline iconography; early Christian art; Via Latina catacomb; Christus magister; traditio legis; portraits; Christ; cult of the apostles; Roman art

Chapter.  23967 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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