Sacred stimulus: Jerusalem in the visual christianization of Rome

Galit Noga-Banai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This book is about the effect Jerusalem had on the formulation of Christian art in Rome during the fourth and fifth centuries. It deals with the visual Christianization of Rome from an almost neglected perspective: not in comparison to pagan art in Rome, not as reflecting the struggle with the emergence of New Rome in the East (Constantinople)-topics that have both been studied extensively-but rather as visual expressions of the idea of Jerusalem and its holy sites. Contesting the ownership of the historical events and their mythical venues, Rome, as suggested in Sacred Stimulus, constructed its own set of holy sites and foundational myths and, already in the second half of the fourth century, expropriated, for its own use, some of Jerusalem’s sacred sites and legends. The selective analysis suggested here is based mostly on visual sources. The book addresses a series of artistic products of various media, shapes, compositions, and combinations, which together make sense-or better, make a point. The accumulative evidence points to a clear Roman attitude toward Jerusalem in the second half of the fourth century, and to a change of attitude during the fifth century. Sacred Stimulus uncovers and defines this shift and suggests an explanation for it. It does not deal with new or unpublished artistic evidence. Rather, it analyzes well-known and central works of art, including mosaic decoration, sarcophagi, wall paintings, portable art, and architecture, and exposes the role played by Jerusalem in the genesis of Christian art in Rome.

Original languageAmerican English
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages202
ISBN (Electronic)9780190874650
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press 2018. All rights reserved.


  • Apparition of the cross
  • Arch of titus
  • Basilica apostolorum
  • Bethesda sarcophagi
  • Casket from samagher
  • Catacomb of villa torlonia
  • Christogram
  • Concordia apostolorum
  • Crossing of the red sea sarcophagi
  • Cyril of jerusalem
  • Dominus legem dat
  • Passion sarcophagi
  • Pope damasus
  • S. Maria Maggiore
  • S. Paolo fuori le mura
  • S. Stefano Rotondo
  • S. costanza
  • S. croce in jerusalemme
  • S. pudenziana
  • Sancta sanctorum
  • St. Peter and St. Paul
  • Traditio legis


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