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June 23rd, 2010
10:09 AM ET

Doubting the apostle images

Writes one reader about yesterday's announcement that archeologists have found the oldest known image of the apostles Andrew and John in Rome:

absolute and utter nonsense. the article is irresponsible in not making clear to the reader that these images were created hundreds of years after the fact by enemies of Christ (Romans) who subsequently saw it as political beneficial to gain political control of the otherwise uncontrollable christian cult for the purpose of expanding the roman empire.

 The Roman Catholic Church was established starting with the conference in Nice (322 AD). The images are those of Romans/Italians and bear no relationship whatsoever with the actual people. It is utterly incorrect and misleading to refer to these as "images of apostles" or even worst stating that they are the "oldest known". We must categorically reject the continued propagation of such shameless falsehoods almost 2000 yrs later in this 21st century. These are no more the apostles than Michaelangelos' images of his uncle in churches across our nation are true images of Jesus. The life of jesus and the apostles and emulating it is what we should obsess over – not ancient Roman propaganda.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Art • Christianity

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. dalis

    @ Matthew Ott Where do you get this stuff – a Jack Chick tract!?

    June 24, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
  2. Laurie

    Sounds like anti-Catholic hatred coloring the factual evidence. Perhaps you ought to look at your own heart regarding following of Jesus with humility and cast out the bias and hatred in your heart and then you might see.

    June 24, 2010 at 2:21 pm |
  3. BillinNYC

    Putting aside the new age Da Vinco Code anti-Catholic chatter from the left and its evangelical counter-point on the right that is to be expected with a discovery of this kind, what I find interesting about the discovery is the remarkable consistency in the depiction of each Apostle in art prior to the year 800 in both the Latin and Greek Orthodox traditions. Peter’s curly head and beard, Paul’s male pattern baldness and pointy beard, John’s obvious youth and Semitic features are all standard fare. Hair colors, beard styles, facial features of these figures are amazingly consistent across the Christian world in the later Roman period. Whether or not this reflects an artistic tradition based on work by artists who had met the men and painted them or not is the real interesting question raised by these 4th century images. Anyone who has looked at Roman tomb art, either in Italy or in the Egypt of the period, will be aware that these kinds of portraits of ordinary people and famous people were done with a view towards realism, even if “air brushed” a bit for the person paying for the portrait. I would think a strong historical argument could be made that these images do represent an oral/artistic tradition arising in the first century.

    June 24, 2010 at 11:21 am |
    • sjenner

      I actually had the same thought. I was really surprised by how fixed the iconography was. We are, obviously, 400 odd years out from the big events, 350 odd from the time the last apostles died. But still, the images appear to point back to a much older iconographic tradition. Who knows. Perhaps these images do give us at least some idea on how these people actually looked.

      June 24, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
  4. Matthew Ott

    I assume nothing. I study scripture (which is a scientifically validated history book) and a plethora of other historical research material to further validate and substantiate my FAITH. You are confusing a Truth seeker with a zombie of churchianity. All science comes from Yahweh, therefore science is not the answer...Yahweh is.

    June 23, 2010 at 11:57 pm |
    • Ken

      scripture "... is a scientifically validated history book"
      At best certain pieces of information can be validated scientifically, but surely not the whole book (scripture). Even scholarly history books are not entirely "scientifically validated". You are in effect assuming that everything in the book (or scripture) is true.

      June 24, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
  5. John

    Matthew Ott,
    Exactly, all Abrahamics religion based on some basic assumption. Christian based on the believe and assume that Chris has crucified and resurrection, while Islam believes and assume that Mohammed is a God messenger, and there is only one God. If the assumptions has been violated then there will be no religion of Christian, and Islam. It is such a simple explanation about religion!
    In the 21st century, I believe nobody needs to assume anything beyond his capabilities. Science is the answers.

    June 23, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
  6. Matthew Ott

    Hey John, without citing the Koran, prove Mohammed was who he claimed he was! Without consulting the Dhali Lama, prove to me that Buddha is who he's claimed to be! Ironically, I CAN prove Yahshua is who he says he is and I can prove that the other two are FRAUDS.

    June 23, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
  7. Pilgrim

    OMG!! Do you mean to say the MSM censors and misleads??

    June 23, 2010 at 11:07 pm |
  8. Matthew Ott

    Isn't censorship grand?

    June 23, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
    • Pilgrim

      Oh Wow! Who would ever have imagined such a heinous thing???

      June 23, 2010 at 11:08 pm |
  9. Matthew Ott

    First of all, there is no "church" in the Bible. It is "ekklisia" meaning the body of "The Anointed", the Children of the House of Israel. Also "assembly" is used. Second, Peter was NEVER given the position of pope, or Pontifex Maximus to be specific. That was the title used by the high priest of Babylonian mysticism that was passed on to the Roman Emporers, first taken up by Caesar Augustus. Then as the Roman Empire crumbled, the fledgling paganized church seized the title for themselves.

    June 23, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
  10. Matthew Ott

    Where are you guys getting your "facts" on the catholic church? Obviously from a catholic study guide. If you guys knew anything of the history of early Christianity, you would know there was no such thing as a "church". The "ekklisia", being the whole body of the children of the House of Israel, were to "assemble" in the homes of the brethren. The word "church" or it's modern concept meaning does not exist in the original manuscripts or teachings. Also, Peter was never appointed POPE, more specifically PONTIFEX MAXIMUS. That title was originally reserved for the high priest of Babylonian mysticism, which was passed on to the Roman Emporers, first taken up by Caesar Augustus, and later usurped by the fledgling paganized version of true Christianity, the catholic church, as the Roman Empire crumbled.

    June 23, 2010 at 10:51 pm |
  11. John

    Without citing the Bible, Is there any others references about Chris as a God ? Is there any fact that Chris was really born to this world ?

    June 23, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
    • Aaron

      Chris who?

      August 16, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
  12. Matthew Ott

    Why was this particular post reprinted in this fashion? Is that the best this media has to offer as their rebuttal to the obvious Truth as to WHO THE ISRAELITES OF THE BIBLE ARE. Is their beautiful white skin too much for you? I don't know of any letters written by ANY of Yahshua's disciples to the Nubians, Zulus, Mongols, OR EDOMITES. To those of you offended by this Truth, then you were not meant to partake in the Covenants of Yahweh.

    June 23, 2010 at 9:57 pm |
  13. gerald

    It is intellectual and historical stupidity to say that the Catholic Church started with the councel of Nicea. One can find everything that is Catholic in the writings of the likes of Irenaus, Justin Martyr, Clement of Rome (who was mentioned in scripture), Eusebeus, Polycarp, Ignatius of Antioch, etc. etc. The Popes are traced all the way back to Peter in secular encyclopedias and this is supported by historical writings before nicea.

    June 23, 2010 at 9:43 pm |
  14. Reality

    Once again from the previous thread on this same topic (apparently the moderators repeat topics to get in their topic quota for the week?):

    So what?? Are said images proof that these two humans lived? We already knew they lived from the exhaustive studies of the texts from the first to third centuries CE. See Professor JD Crossan's book, The Birth of Christianity for minute details.

    June 23, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  15. dalis

    I corrected all the blatant inaccuracies in this post last night. Why is this post, of all the posts under the original story, being reprinted? He doesn't even know Nice from Nicaea!

    June 23, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  16. Reality

    And the strangeness continues. Is there somekind of rule that disallows any copying from the topic commentary? How odd if there is.

    June 23, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  17. Reality

    What gives with this blog? Simple, on topic comments, continue to be rejected. Where are the blog rules published? Anything of historic substance is also continually rejected. Strange, strange, strange!!!!

    June 23, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  18. VSSaucouer

    There's historical proof that the term Catholic to describe the Church founded by Christ was used as early as 108 AD by Ignatius of Antioc.

    June 23, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
  19. ODIrony

    The "reader" misses the mark on several points. Firstly, the Church existed long before the fourth century; historical evidence is clear despite his/her foolish prejudice against the Roman Church. Secondly, if one is intent on making ridiculous statements about when the Church started, one should at least get the date of the Council of Nicaea correct (a.d. 325). Such truly ignorant comments like those of the "reader" give Protestant Christianity a bad name.

    June 23, 2010 at 3:08 pm |
  20. John D

    I think the reader's comment sort of misses the point.

    I'd agree, though, that in light of the confusion and angst it stirred up, it may have been better were the article in question headlined "Earliest Known Image Purporting to Depict Apostles Andrew and John Discovered."
    ...True, the actual headline, if you read the article, was just shorthand for that. But apparently some people don't deal well with abbreviation.

    June 23, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
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