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Baptismal Iconography In Catacomb

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Chapter Summary

Early Christian sarcophagi were produced in Italy, Gaul, North Africa, and Spain out of materials extracted from quarries around the Roman Empire. This chapter examines most of the extant baptismal images on Christian sarcophagi and compares them to their counterparts in the Christian catacombs. The discussion in the chapter briefly considers specific iconographic problems of the baptism scene (the appearance of a river deity, the lack of the dove, the presence of a sundial, and the presence of a witness) as well as general comments on the pictorial program as a whole. Following these individual descriptions is an examination of some broader issues or questions that emerge from this data, including whether certain other images are typological references to baptism; whether the iconography is particularly suited to a funerary context or reflects Christian beliefs about the afterlife; and whether any of the programs have an overarching sacramental significance.

Keywords:baptismal images; catacombs; early Christian; iconography; sarcophagus



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