Thursday, March 5, 2009

How Christians Poached "Pagan" Images

Overview article at BAR Online: Borrowing from the Neighbors: Pagan Imagery in Christian Art by Sarah K. Yeomans: The use by the Christians of pagan sacred imagery is not necessarily confined solely to the Greco-Roman world. The cultural and religious syncretism that took place in Greek and Roman society with other, even older civilizations meant that many early Christians had a wealth of artistic examples that may have originated outside of their immediate cultural landscape. One example is an Egyptian artistic motif: Scholars have long hypothesized that the image of Mary nursing or holding the Christ child close to her breast is an iconographic image borrowed from the ancient Egyptian motif of the goddess Isis nursing the infant Horus.


Matt Stone said...

Curious, but are you implying that borrowing is bad? It strikes me that NeoPagans borrow from all sorts of sources.

Jan said...

Hi Mark,

No! I just wanted to point out that the "mother of god" symbolism is extremely ancient and no religion has a patent on it. I've written about the Virgin Mary and Isis before.

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