Early Christian Art

Art became exceedingly important to early Christians thanks to the value it had in the Greco-Roman cultures. As converts to Christianity poured in from those cultures, the church adopted pagan ways of art, such as frescos, mosaics, and manuscript illuminations, to create brilliant works of art immortalizing themes from the Old Testament. Christ is often depicted as a leader or a teacher, surrounded by disciples or with a scroll, as a further extension of Greek and Roman culture; philosophy played a large part in early Christianity. Symbols such as the grapevine and good Sheppard were also inherited from those civilizations as well.
The earliest Christian Art heavily reflected the Old Testament and its theme of death and resurrection; however, images of the nativity, crucification, and the resurrection of Christ are absent. The themes of death and resurrection were instead depicted in ways that echoed the Old Testament and alluded to Christ, such as with Jonah and the Whale, and Daniel in the Lion’s Den.   This is in part due to the clandestine life early Christianity was forced to endure
Catacombs were built outside of Rome for the burial of the deceased. Those of a wealthier status would have tombs carved out of sarcophagi, or marble, with Christian imagery on them, or would have frescos painted on the walls.   The fresco of Christ Teaching the Apostles was discovered in the catacomb of Domitilla, in Rome, Italy. The image depicts a beardless Christ in a toga, which was typical of its time and location in the Roman world, Ca. 300 AD.   Apostles and other religious devotees are painted around Christ, as he preaches, which reflects back to early Christianity’s attention to philosophy.   This work of art in particular shows the past’s influence on the present time period in both a subtle and secret way.  
Sources:   Etsu.edu/ Smart History