The Dogmatic Sarcophagus

First half of the 4th century
Stone sarcophagus
Museo Pio Cristiano, The Vatican, Rome

This sarcophagus is called "dogmatic" because the images in the upper left-hand corner appear to reinforce dogmas proclaimed in 325 at the Council of Nicea. In the first panel the doctrine of the Trinity is expressed by showing the one God who created Eve as three very similar bearded men. The second panel indicates that Jesus Christ is fully God besides being fully man by showing him as the one expelling Adam and Eve from Eden. In this and all the panels from the Gospels, he is portrayed as a beardless young man in a toga.

The man and woman in the clipeus are the couple for whom the sarcophagus was carved.

Detail photos with discussion:

View this image in full resolution.

Photographed at the museum by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.