In his book Ante pacem: archaeological evidence of church life before Constantine (via: amazon.co.uk) the author, Graydon F. Snyder, presents what others (here and elsewhere) have termed an exhaustive collection of the archaeological footprint of Christianity prior to the 4th century.
As many of you are aware, I have attempted to refute this evidence over the last few years in norder to explore the hypothesis that the Roman Emperor Constantine in fact was responsible for the sponsorship of the fabrication of the New Testament and the "Church History" which wa assembled by Eusebius of Caesarea between the years of 312 and 324 CE.
Having obtained a copy of this work a few weeks ago, I have gone through this book in a meticulous manner to examine and review the detailed elements of the evidence assembled by Graydon Snyder with the view in mind to either find that I have been mistaken in exploring this hypothesis or to vindicate (at least to myself) the integrity of this hypothesis.
The result of my critical review of the evidence presented by Graydon Snyder is that, as far as I am able to determine, it is quite reasonable to dismiss each and every citation therein presented, on a common sense basis. I have presented my findings, and the reasons by which I am unable to accept the view of Snyder and the mainstream "Early Christian History" tradition, that this evidence actually supports the tradition. The review I have conducted is quite exhaustive and runs to many pages and is thus not conducive to posing en masse in this forum.
However I have collated all the references and citations presented by Snyder's monumental work in a web article entitled A Critical Review of Ante pacem: Archaeological evidence of church life before Constantine which I invite any interested parties to peruse at their leisure. I further invite anyone who may be interested in this issue to re-present any arguments that I have brought to bear in the assessment of this evidence, which I consider insufficient for the purpose of proving the historical existence of the Pre-Nicaean Christian church, alluded to in the writings of Eusebius and his subsequent continuators in the 4th and 5th century State Catholic Christian church.
I will conclude this notice with one and one only example, and that is the claim by Graydon Snyder that in the archaeology of this "Early Epoch" there indeed are relics which depict the figure of Jesus. This example and image is as follows:
Plate 13 -- "The sarcophagus located in Sta. Maria Antiqua, Rome
It is summarily described by the author as being "Likely the oldest example of Early Christian plastic art", and a full description is given is as follows:
"The Teaching of the Law stands in the center, with a Good Shepherd immediately to the right and an Orante immediately to the left. Continuing left is a Jonah cycle, first Jonah resting, then Jonah cast out of the ketos, and finally Jonah in the boat. To the extreme left side stands a river god. To the right of the Good Shepherd there is a baptism of Jesus with a dove descending. Jesus is young, nude, and quite small next to the older, bearded John the Baptist. A pastoral scene concludes the right end"
"In fresco and plastic art Jesus is depicted as a youth, often nearly nude, who performed remarkable acts -- events described artistically in a New Testament context. This had appeared by 200 CE ........(Thanks Clive!)
"It is remarkable that the Constantinian era kept that picture of Jesus"
"It was only after Constantine, about the time of Damasius, that the picture of Jesus was changed to from the youthful wonder-worker to the royal or majestic Lord. At that time, Jesus shifted more to a bearded, elderly, dominant figure"
Thanks for this post Dan DuPree,
I must have missed it earlier.