The present state of Christianity is completely different to its past. During the early years of Christianity, Christians were persecuted for their faith. Due to heavy persecution, early Christians had to use some kind of secret communication. This had given way to the birth of Early Christian art. Due to the proximity in the timeline, Early Christian art had shown much influence from Byzantine art. However, Early Christian art had to undergo change during the Late Antiquity in the Roman Empire.
Much of the early Christian Art in the Late Antiquity was influenced by the prevalence of wars and political instability (Spier 2007). Since there was no more need for secrecy, Early Christian art had become more focused on politics rather than the religion. During the early years of Christianity, storytelling was regarded as the most effective way of mass communication. Written language was still unavailable for the consumption of all, thus people had used Oral narratives to communicate and preserve cultural ideas.
One of the propagated stories was that of Christianity. On the other hand, symbols were used to avoid persecution from those against Christianity. Through storytelling and symbols, early Christian artists were able to continue their faith and avoid persecution at the same time. Perhaps two of the most common symbols in Early Christian art are the dove, lamb, and the fish. The dove was used as a symbol for purity and peace, something of high value to Christians. On the other hand, the fish was used as a symbol for Christ.
The fish had become an ingenious symbol for Christ as it symbolizes the last supper and the water used for Christian baptism. And lastly, the lamb had become another symbol for Christ, particularly when he had bled during the crucifixion. In addition to that, the lamb could also serve as a symbolism for Christians wherein Christ is the good shepherd. Reference Spier, Jeffrey. (2007). Picturing the Bible: the earliest Christian art. Connecticut: Yale University Press