Today marks the beginning of our exciting summer study, 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know with author Terry Glaspey. Each day, Monday thru Saturday we will post successively through each great work.
The first masterpiece examined is actually a vast collection of the earliest Christian art. The paintings are remarkable for many reasons, but the foremost is the great devotion exhibited by the artists during a time when being a Christian was potentially a capital offense.
As Terry Glaspey explains:
One of the common images in early Christian art, an image that can frequently be seen in the catacombs as well as in mosaics and in the earliest statuary, is the depiction of Christ as the Good Shepherd. His features bear a strong resemblance to traditional depictions of Apollo in classical art—handsome, strong, and dignified—and he is tending to his flock with gentle care, usually with a lamb draped over his shoulders. It is an image that reminds the viewer of Jesus’s love for his people and the protection he offers in a world filled with predators—precisely the message most needed by early Christians suffering from marginalization and persecution. In the days of Christian faith’s infancy it could be dangerous to be a believer. And because the image of a shepherd with a flock wasn’t a blatantly religious image, it was art that could communicate from one Christian to another without drawing unwanted attention from hostile authorities. It was a sort of coded message of reverence for the Savior based upon Jesus’s words from John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd.”
Does any art reflect that kind of devotion today?
John 1: 1-5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
D I G D E E P E R
Art of the Roman Catacombs
Johnson, Robin Margaret. Understanding Early Christian Art. New York: Routledge, 2000.
Lowden, John. Early Christian and Byzantine Art. London: Phaidon, 1997.
Lowrie, Walter. Art in the Early Church. New York: W. W. Norton, 1947.
Eusebius. The History of the Church
Frontispiece and 24 pages of colour plates. As the only surviving record of the Church during its pivotal first three centuries, this is the founding text of Christian history. Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, introduces this Folio edition. http://www.foliosociety.com/book/CHU/history-of-the-church
I’m really looking forward to discussing my book, “75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know,” with the members of Literary Life Book Club. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and perspectives on some of the art, music, and literature you’ll discover in the book. I’m interested in how it speaks to you in your life and the ways it inspires, challenges, or maybe even annoys you! I’ll try to share some “deleted scenes” stuff I had to leave out and will tell a few stories about what I experienced while doing the writing and research. Hope that many of you can join us as we look at he stories behind some truly wonderful art.
Let’s explore together!
Join the discussion with Terry on Facebook HERE
Terry Glaspey is a writer, an editor, a creative mentor, and someone who finds various forms of art—painting, films, novels, poetry, and music—to be some of the places where he most deeply connects with God.
He has a master’s degree in history from the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!), as well as undergraduate degrees emphasizing counseling and pastoral studies.
He has written over a dozen books, including 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: Fascinating Stories Behind Great Art, Music, Literature, and Film, Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis, The Prayers of Jane Austen, 25 Keys to Life-Changing Prayer, Bible Basics for Everyone, and others.
Terry enjoys writing and speaking about a variety of topics including creativity and spirituality, the artistic heritage of the Christian faith, the writing of C.S. Lewis, and creative approaches to apologetics.
He serves on the board of directors of the Society to Explore and Record Church History and is listed in Who’s Who in America Terry has been the recipient of a number of awards, including a distinguished alumni award and the Advanced Speakers and Writers Editor of the Year award.
Terry has two daughters and lives in Eugene, Oregon.
Dig Deeper at TerryGlaspey.com
Some of the greatest painters, musicians, architects, writers, filmmakers, and poets have taken their inspiration from their faith and impacted millions of people with their stunning creations. Now readers can discover the stories behind seventy-five of these masterpieces and the artists who created them. From the art of the Roman catacombs to Rembrandt to Makoto Fujimura; from Gregorian Chant to Bach to U2; from John Bunyan and John Donne to Flannery O’Connor and Frederick Buechner; this book unveils the rich and varied artistic heritage left by believers who were masters at their craft.
Terry Glaspey, 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music, and Film (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2015).
Order it HERE today.