The Key to the Brescia Casket: Typology and the Early Christian Imagination [Paperback]

Catherine Brown Tkacz (Author)

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ISBN: 9780268012311 | Published by: University of Notre Dame Press | Series: Collection Des Etudes Augustiniennes | Volume: 14 | Year of Publication: 2002 | Language: English 280p, Illustrations, black and white

The Key to the Brescia Casket


This rigorously interdisciplinary study solves the centuries-long puzzle of the iconographic program of the Brescia Casket and demonstrates the importance of typology in Early Christian art. The elusive rationale for the Brescia Casket, an ivory reliquary carved in northern Italy circa 390, has long tantalized scholars. The key to its wealth of meaning is exegetical typology, the interpretation of Old Testament people and events as prefiguring the Messiah. Typology underlies the whole sophisticated program of the ivory box, which features innovations such as the distinctive Good Shepherd of John 10 on the front of the box, the wrapping of the program around the corners, and even possible visual puns based on St. Augustine’s discussions of typology. Notably, Susanna, the heroine of Daniel 13, is depicted on the Brescia Casket as a type of Christ, a role discussed in numerous texts by mainstream authors such as Augustine, Ambrose and Jerome. Tkacz grounds the typological program of the Brescia Casket in fourth-century thought and suggests the real possibility that typology is important for the understanding of Early Christian art in general. An innovative and illustrated appendix presents the history of interpretation of each of the fifty-nine on the casket.

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