Stage 4 of 6
Jesus, a Graeco-Roman God
After Emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity in 325 AD, more detailed artistic representations of Jesus began to be appear in churches. Jesus was modelled on Rome's vision of a 'great God'
Though there continued to be resistance, the use of icons and images won out and became entrenched in the Christianity that originated from Rome and Byzantium. Early artwork retained an artistic links with historical pagan images and traditions.
The Greco-Roman customs of worshipping deities through statues and images had became central to Christianity. The earlier Jewish-Christian values of refraining from depicting God, and observing the Jewish 2nd Commandment had failed.
Emperor Constantine converts to Christianity
After Constantine converted, the religion of Christianity changed forever. Most historians acknowledge the influence of various pagan gods and dieties on the early images of Jesus.
After the conversion of Constantine all the barriers [to the use of images] were broken down Paul Johnson. Historian. A History of Christianity, pp. 102-103
The representation of Christ as the Almighty Lord on his judgement throne owed something to pictures of Zeus Henry Chadwick, The Penguin History of the Early Church, 1967, p. 283
Jesus' representation as a version of Apollo or Helios in the Vatican necropolis demonstrates the way the Roman gods were directly challenged; Jesus usurps their place, often with iconographic attributes that make him quite similar in appearance to various pagan deities Robin Jensen, Understanding Early Christian Art, 2000, p. 120
When Christ is given a youthful, beardless face and loose, long locks it assimilates him into the company of Apollo and Dionysus. Insofar as he copied the look of Apollo or Dionysus, he assumed something of their feminine aspect as well Thomas Mathews, The Clash of Gods, 1993, pp. 126-128
The clean-shaven visage more resembles the representations of Apollo or the youthful Dionysus, Mithras, and such semi-divines or human heroes as Orpheus, Meleager, and even Hercules. A youthful appearance recalls the divine attributes most associated with personal savior gods Robin Jensen, Understanding Early Christian Art, 2000, p. 119