Images of Christ
May 19, 2008 by 44 Comments
One person said that images of the resurrected Lord were more predominant in the early church than crucifixes. If they mean an image like the one above, this is incorrect.
Neither the crucifix, nor images of the resurrected Lord like the one pictured here were known in the early church. This article is very informative, and reminds us that the earliest Christian images were the ICTHUS fish and the ChiRho symbol, while the earliest images of Jesus portrayed him as the Good Shepherd, or the Lamb of God. This eventually was overtaken by images of Christ Pantocrator. The glorified, King of Glory is certainly older than representations of the crucified Lord.
Remember, for the first few hundred years, the image of a crucified Lord would have been abhorrent. This was still the common method of brutal capital punishment. Using it as a symbol of worship (even though the early Christians honored the cross) would have been unthinkable.
This article tells us that the first crucifix as an image for worship dates from the fifth century. It gives a very good summary outline of the historical development of the crucifix as a Christian religious image, and how its development reflects theological understandings.
The image of the resurrected Lord on the cross shown above however, is a very modern innovation, and the empty cross on its own as a Christian symbol was unheard of before the Protestant Reformation.