The Many Faces of Christ: Portraying the Holy in the East and West, 300 to 1300

December 1, 2020
The Many Faces of Christ: Portraying the Holy in the East and West, 300 to 1300

Thanks to current portrayals of Jesus of Nazareth, we are apt tothink of him as having long hair and a short beard. But, the holyscriptures do not describe Christ's physiognomy, and hisrepresentations are inconsistent in early Christian and medievalarts.How did this long-haired archetype come to be accepted in thelate ninth century as the standard iconography of the Son of God?To answer this question, The Many Faces of Christ examinesthe complex historical and cultural dynamics underlying the makingand final establishment of Christ's image between late antiquityand the early Renaissance.Taking into account a broad spectrum of iconographic and textualsources, Michele Bacci describes the process of creating Christ'simage against the backdrop of ancient and biblical conceptions ofbeauty and physicality as indicators of moral, ascetic, ormessianic qualities. He investigates the increasingly dominant roleplayed by visual experience in Christian religious practice, whichpromoted belief in the existence of ancient documents depictingChrist's appearance, and he shows how this resulted in the shapingof portrait-like images that were said to be true to life.With glances at analogous progressions in the Jewish, Muslim,Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, and Taoist traditions, this beautifullyillustrated book will be of interest to specialists of LateAntique, Byzantine, and medieval studies, as well as anyoneinterested in the shifting, controversial conceptions of thehistorical figure of Jesus Christ.