The Routledge Handbook of Early Christian Art surveys a broad spectrum of Christian art produced from the late second to the sixth centuries. The first part of the book opens with a general survey of the subject and then presents fifteen essays that discuss specific media of visual art—catacomb paintings, sculpture, mosaics, gold glass, gems, reliquaries, ceramics, icons, ivories, textiles, silver, and illuminated manuscripts. Each is written by a noted expert in the field. The second part of the book takes up themes relevant to the study of early Christian art. These seven chapters consider the ritual practices in decorated spaces, the emergence of images of Christ’s Passion and miracles, the functions of Christian secular portraits, the exemplary mosaics of Ravenna, the early modern history of Christian art and archaeology studies, and further reflection on this field called “early Christian art.” Each of the volume’s chapters includes photographs of many of the objects discussed, plus bibliographic notes and recommendations for further reading.

The result is an invaluable introduction to and appraisal of the art that developed out of the spread of Christianity through the late antique world. Undergraduate and graduate students of late classical, early Christian, and Byzantine culture, religion, or art will find it an accessible and insightful orientation to the field. Additionally, professional academics, archivists, and curators working in these areas will also find it valuable as a resource for their own research, as well as a textbook or reference work for their students.

chapter 1|17 pages


Early Christian art
ByRobin M. Jensen

part I|253 pages


chapter 2|18 pages

Catacomb Painting and the Rise of Christian Iconography in Funerary Art

ByNorbert Zimmermann

chapter 3|17 pages

Christian Sarcophagi from Rome

ByJutta Dresken-Weiland

chapter 4|17 pages

Early Christian Sarcophagi Outside of Rome

ByGuntram Koch

chapter 5|13 pages

Freestanding Sculpture

ByHeidi J. Hornik

chapter 6|18 pages

Christian Wall Mosaics and the Creation of Sacred Space

BySean V. Leatherbury

chapter 7|20 pages

Christian Floor Mosaics

Modes of study and potential meanings
ByRina Talgam

chapter 8|17 pages

Gold-Glass in Late Antiquity

BySusan Walker

chapter 9|9 pages

Engraved Gems and Amulets

ByJeffrey Spier

chapter 10|19 pages

Reliquaries and the Cult of Relics in Late Antiquity

ByErik Thunø

chapter 11|22 pages

Ceramics in the Early Christian World

ByJohn J. Herrmann, Annewies van den Hoek

chapter 12|16 pages

Panel Paintings and Early Christian Icons

ByKatherine Marsengill

chapter 13|14 pages

Christian Ivories

Containment, manipulation, and the creation of meaning
ByNiamh Bhalla

chapter 14|19 pages


The emergence of a Christian identity in cloth
ByJennifer L. Ball

chapter 15|14 pages

Early Christian Silver

Sacred and domestic
ByRuth Leader-Newby

chapter 16|18 pages

Early Christian Illuminated Manuscripts

ByDorothy Verkerk

part II|120 pages


chapter 17|15 pages

Early Christian Art and Ritual

ByMichael Peppard

chapter 18|18 pages

Picturing the Passion

ByFelicity Harley-McGowan

chapter 19|18 pages

Miracles and Art

ByLee M. Jefferson

chapter 21|17 pages

The Mosaics of Ravenna

ByDeborah Mauskopf Deliyannis

chapter 23|13 pages

“Early” “Christian” “Art”

ByRobert Couzin