Paul Zanker, The Mask of Socrates, trans. Alan Shapiro (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1995), pp. 289–292.


Justin Martyr, First Apology 21.


Theodoric also built a baptistery some distance from Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, with a mosaic program modeled on the earlier “Orthodox” baptistery (the Neonian Baptistery). All that is left of the decoration of the “Arian” baptistery, however, is a medallion showing the baptism of Jesus and the ring of processing apostles just below. The Jesus image here is significantly different in appearance from the Jesus in the Orthodox baptistery. As in the miracle mosaics from Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, the Jesus of the Arian baptistery has no beard, while the earlier Jesus of the Orthodox baptistery (presuming the restorers kept the original facial type) was a bearded, older-looking figure. See Robin M. Jensen, “What Are Pagan River Gods Doing in Scenes of Jesus’ Baptism?” BR 09:01.


See Neil MacGregor with Erika Langmuir, Seeing Salvation: Images of Christ in Art (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 2000), pp. 80–81, esp. 81: “The miracles and teaching [scenes in Sant’Apollinare Nuovo] reveal his divine nature, but it is as a man that Christ is betrayed, judged and led to his death.”


In truth, historians can say very little about the nature of Arian Gothic Christology or elaborate its differences from that of the Orthodox “conquerors” of Ravenna. We have no reason to think that the Arian Goths were also prone to Nestorianism, for instance.


Origen, Against Celsus 6.75–77 (trans. adapted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 4, p. 607).


Origen, Against Celsus 6.75–77. See also John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Psalms 44.3.


Thomas F. Mathews, The Clash of Gods: A Reinterpretation of Early Christian Art (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 1993).


Augustine, On the Trinity 8.7 (E. Hill, trans., The Trinity, in The Works of St. Augustine, part 1, vol. 5 [Brooklyn, NY: New City Press, 1991], pp. 246–247.)


Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 10.5 (Andrew A. Stephenson, trans., The Works of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, vol. 1 [Washington, DC: Catholic Univ. of America Press, 1969], p. 198). See also (for comparison), Origen, Against Celsus 2.64 or the Acts of John 87–89 for other examples of Jesus’ variant and changing appearance.


Certain younger pagan gods like Hercules and Dionysus were also depicted as both youthful and mature, bearded and unbearded, perhaps to suggest their own adaptability and multivalence, or even their ambiguous sexuality. Thus we may have here another kind of parallel between Christian iconography and that of the Greco-Roman religions.


Such an explanation might also account for the differences seen in the presentation of Jesus at his baptism in the Orthodox and Arian baptisteries. The designers of the Arian mosaics may deliberately have changed Jesus from an older figure to a younger (unbearded) one since he had not at that point “entered into his glory.”