Byzantine Religious Art and the Christian Church: An Historical Exploration

Emeka C. Ekeke


The establishment of the Byzantine Empire by Constantine the Great in AD 330 ushered a new dimension in the religious horizon of the early church. It created a new system of worship and the use of religious art in Christian religious activities. This religious art flourished in the empire until it degenerated into idolatry which led to serious controversy in the Eastern Church. This paper therefore examined the role Byzantine religious art played in the early church. It also considered the historical development of Byzantine art with particular reference to icons and mosaics and their characteristics and finally x-rayed the influence of icons and mosaics on the early church liturgy and theology.

Keywords: Byzantine religious art; mosaics; icons; iconoclasm; early church; iconodules.

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