The Clash of Gods

The Clash of Gods : A Reinterpretation of Early Christian Art - Revised and Expanded Edition

3.86 (69 ratings by Goodreads)
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Between the third and sixth centuries, the ancient gods, goddesses, and heroes who had populated the imagination of humankind for a millennium were replaced by a new imagery of Christ and his saints. Thomas Mathews explores the many different, often surprising, artistic images and religious interpretations of Christ during this period. He challenges the accepted theory of the "Emperor Mystique," which, interpreting Christ as king, derives the vocabulary of Christian art from the propagandistic imagery of the Roman emperor. This revised edition contains a new preface by the author and a new chapter on the origin and development of icons in private domestic cult.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 191 x 254 x 15.24mm | 652g
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • Revised
  • Revised edition
  • 129 halftones 16 color plates
  • 0691009392
  • 9780691009391
  • 480,718

Back cover copy

"This book presents an up-to-date and original survey of Early Christian art and its origins, and attacks the current idea of continuity between the Roman emperor cult and the art of the early church. Conservative readers may well be shocked by this lucid but utterly unconventional presentation of an often treated subject. I find Thomas Mathews's work convincing and impressive."--Hugo Buchthal

"Not only does Mathews present bold arguments that I find persuasive, but his book is exciting to read. He removes the images of Christ from the iconography of the emperor and puts them into the far more plausible context of late antique teachers and wonder-workers."--G. W. Bowersock
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Table of contents

AcknowledgmentsCh. 1The Mistake of the Emperor Mystique3Ch. 2The Chariot and the Donkey23Ch. 3The Magician54Ch. 4Larger-than-Life92Ch. 5Christ Chameleon115Ch. 6Convergence142Ch. 7The Intimate Icon177List of Abbreviations181Notes183List of Figures205Index213
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Review quote

"This is a sumptuously illustrated book, in which the pictures are well married to the text. It makes an illuminating way into patristic theology and the religions of the first six centuries."--Leslie Holden, Theology "Mathews's argument is convincing. In his determination to challenge and overturn a long-held theory, he does not allow his chameleon Christ, who is both man and woman, magician and god, any role as Christ the king. The pendulum may swing back, but not on the same course again. This book has cleared the way for new understandings of the iconography of Christ. It should stimulate a reconsideration of stereotyped readings of other images and in other periods."--Ann Moffatt, Parergon
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About Thomas F. Mathews

Thomas F. Mathews is John Langeloth Loeb Professor of the History of Art at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. Among his most recent books is Byzantium from Antiquity to the Renaissance (1998).
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Rating details

69 ratings
3.86 out of 5 stars
5 26% (18)
4 42% (29)
3 26% (18)
2 4% (3)
1 1% (1)
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