The "parting of the ways" did not occur in one isolated, climactic event; it was a slow and gradual process. When exactly the split between Judaism and Christianity was completed is a topic scholars still disagree on today. To locate the date that it happened, most rely on the scriptures and Christian historical accounts; because very little Jewish writing from the second and third centuries survives, Jewish opinion on the subject is left out entirely. Through an examination of the earliest examples of 'Jewish' and 'Christian' art, on the walls of the Christian catacombs and the buildings found at Dura-Europos, I will clarify the reasons as to when and why the split occurred. In particular, I will focus on how one motif, Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac, is interpreted by both Christian and Jewish artists and used within their most private spaces of worship to express their religious identities. In this paper I will argue that the threat of paganism, intensified by the expanding Roman Empire, brought about the need for Jewish art, and that the need to unite in a "war of images" against polytheism ultimately kept the "ways" together for longer than most historians postulate.
Arts and Humanities
Zavislak, '09, Kristin, "The War of Images: An Artistic Approach to the Parting of the Ways" (2009). Honors Projects. 2.