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Art and The Bible
by Wayne Blank
Honesty and Accuracy
There is nothing wrong with an artist's interpretation, but there is a lot wrong with something that is grossly inaccurate and deceiving. One of the most common examples of this is the "halo."
The heads of Saints didn't really glow as is so often portrayed in religious art. The use of the halo, or nimbus, originated with the pagan Greeks (see Ancient Empires - Greece) and Romans (see Ancient Empires - Rome) to represent their sun god, Helios. Later artists adopted it for use in Christian images.
The halo is actually just the sun behind the person's head. It's easy to recognize once one realizes what it is, although it's also often stylized to make it less obvious. Originally a very devious way of mixing idolatrous sun worship with Christianity by converts who were not all that converted, the pagan halo became an unfortunate tradition in Christian art.
Images and Idolatry
We do not know what Jesus Christ looked like, and that is no accident. While of course there were no cameras at that time, we do know what many people of 2,000 years ago looked like from drawings, statues or coins (e.g. see Emperor Nero) that were made of them. And yet none of the many Christians who actually saw Jesus Christ ever produced such an image of Him that we can see today. Why? Because it would be idolized, something that God commands that we are never to do (see The Ten Commandments - Your Keys To Life). We are to worship, bow down to, and pray to God, not to some lifeless picture or statue that is not God or His Son.
No mere picture or statue could ever represent Almighty God. In the case of Jesus Christ, while we don't know what He did look like, based on the Scriptures we can be quite certain that He looked nothing at all like the manner in which He is nearly always portrayed in Christian art (see What Did Jesus Look Like?).
The Way to glorious eternal life is Truth. Everything else is a dead end.