The Shepherd of Sheep, The Shepherd of Souls: Funereal Iconography of the Good Shepherd And Christianization of Hermes Psychopompos
Nations-Quiroz, Julia Christine
This thesis project is concerned with the funereal iconography of the Good Shepherd. In this thesis I reinterpret the meaning and significance of this prolific image used within early Christian communities as related to identity formation. Instead of looking exclusively to early Church fathers and early Christian written sources to glean meaning from this image, I use Greco-Roman comparanda and textual sources to analyze the imbued meaning. Ultimately this thesis concludes that the image of the Good Shepherd employs traditional Greco-Roman iconographic elements in order to convey to viewers specific beliefs, such as the belief in the necessity of a soul-bearer to carry a soul from the mortal life to the immortal, celestial life. This reinterpretation is crucial to fully understanding early Christian identity, as it was fundamentally concerned with life after death.