|Byzantine mosaic of Christ Separating Sheep from Goats S. Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy|
I think I will cover a few early Christian responses to the parables before moving on to other things. I'll start with some Byzantine mosaics and then move on to people like Augustine, Ephrem the Syrian, Origen, and Romanos the Melodist. I'm surprised that I haven't covered the first three yet. I might also deal briefly with the Gospel of Philip and the parable of the Good Samaritan in a future post or two.
A very small bit of context about mosaics and what they are:
Mosaics consist of a number of tesserae—small pieces of stone or glass—placed together to render a work of art. Pliny the Elder gives the Greeks credit for inventing the mosaic form of art (Natural History 36.31), but the earliest extant mosaics, from around 700 BCE, are found in Gordian in Phrygia (in modern-day Turkey). Almost no mosaics with Christian motifs are extant from the period before the Emperor Constantine’s Edict of Milan (313 CE), which granted religious toleration throughout the Roman Empire. The surviving Christian mosaics before 313 tend to be found in tombs (Poesche 2010: 9-12).
The other mosaic in this section depicts depicts the Pharisee and the Publican parable. I'll write a note about that image next, assuming I have time during the first week of classes.
P.S. Some time soon I will also add the photos I took of parable sculptures at St. James Church in London this summer.