Christianity and Christian Art
Like other world religions, the philosophy of Christianity has become an important part of the cultures in which it is practiced, to such an extent that the history of Western culture would be unrecognizable without the influences of Christianity. Not surprisingly, Christianity has extended its influence to many works of Western art. Artists use their artworks to express their own faith or to describe Biblical events and views on Christianity. Often, their works are designed to have a special effect on the viewer. Some works of art are devotionals, designed to make the viewer think deeply about faith and beliefs. Other works are intended to teach the viewer. Some works are dramatic and emotional, used to make the viewer feel a sense of love, fear, or respect for Christianity. And some artworks are used in Christian rituals.
Christian theology, or the study of Christian beliefs, can be difficult to understand, but it has its rewards. By first reading about the life of Christ and Christian beliefs, you will learn how these Christian symbols, events, and beliefs shape Christian art.
Origins of Christianity
Christianity developed historically and religiously out of Judaism, one of the earliest monotheistic religions (a religion that believes in one god) in the Middle East. Judaism is documented as early as 1200 B.C. in a series of religious books generally known as the Hebrew Bible (Christians call this text the Old Testament). These books, written by many authors over a period of many centuries, explain the history of the Israelites as God's chosen people. The Bible starts with the book of Genesis, which explains how God created the universe and humankind.