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Now then, here we’re going to track the natural history or evolution of western religious thought, chiefly through art, from its apparent origin during the early European Stone Age all the way to the manner in which a certain figure is commonly represented today in Christian iconography.
So why through art? Because the trail of art down through history is comprised of many thousands of hard, observable objects and explicitly revealing paintings, and hence makes for a more reliable, indeed unimpeachable record of exactly how we got from our earliest point in religious reasoning to here—as distinguished from someone’s mere words, no matter how well intended, simply opining on the matter.
And finally, as someone who’s been researching this subject and amassing thick files filled with notes on it since 1972—when after studying western art history for a couple of years, I suddenly noticed something startling about a four hundred year old painting on a Christmas card—I should probably admit that my offer to be your guide in all this is really just my thinly veiled way of offering to present you and everyone else with my final report.
And how would I do that? By actually re-creating the trail—first of all, with captioned photos clearly pointing to each step along the way, duly credited sources should you care to find out more about them, and some modest personal commentary as might seem warranted; and then, given the impossibility of knowing anything for certain about forty-thousand-year-old art objects, other than the indisputable fact of their existence, by simply weaving into the record a light, tongue-in-cheek fable aimed at reproducing the context in which all of this would have logically come about; the overall credibility of which you’re ultimately left—as common respect dictates that it must be, of course—to decide for yourself.