“Early Christian art” is deceptively transparent. The words and their syntactical combination provide a point of entry into several issues regarding this field of study. Its generally accepted material scope depends upon an expansive conception of “art.” “Early” engages questions of chronology: Why did Christian art begin when it did? When should the historical period be considered to end? How secure is the dating of individual artifacts? “Christian” is the most difficult element, reflecting an institutional agenda that, while no longer necessarily dominant, is still influential. Objects and images are usually classed as Christian on the basis of iconography, not style or provenance, but in some cases the adjective refers instead to patronage and use. In relation to late antiquity, “Christian” may project an overly confident sense of homogeneity and clarity at the boundaries of religious affiliation.