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The Beauty of the CrossThe Passion of Christ in Theology and the Arts from the Catacombs to the Eve of the Renaissance$
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Richard Viladesau

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195188110

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2006

DOI: 10.1093/019518811X.001.0001

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The Cross in the New Testament and the Patristic Paradigm

The Cross in the New Testament and the Patristic Paradigm

(p.19) 2 The Cross in the New Testament and the Patristic Paradigm
The Beauty of the Cross

Richard Viladesau (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The pagan drawing known as the graffito of Alexamenos illustrates the scandal of the worship of a “crucified God” in the Roman Hellenistic world. From Roman documents, an approximate idea of what the historical crucifixion of Jesus was like can be reconstructed. However, this historical event was soon translated into the spheres of religious myth and theology. The New Testament itself provides an early aesthetic mediation of the meaning of the cross. The Fathers of the Church, in particular Athanasius and Augustine, expand on New Testament concepts and images to understand the cross as the symbol of Christ’s divine victory, and produce a variety of conceptual explanations of its function in human salvation. Representations of the cross in this period, like the hymns of Venantius Fortunatus and the Byzantine liturgy, present it as the sign and instrument of Christ’s victory over sin and death.

Keywords:   Athanasius, Augustine, Byzantine liturgy, crucifixion, death of Christ, graffito of Alexamenos, New Testament, patristic theology, victory

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