Sarcophagus of the story of Jonah
This Sarcophagus depicts the story of Jonah and the whale. This story is originally from the Jewish Torah, but it is also in the Christian Bible. The tomb is a Christian object and on closer inspection we can see a lamb floating in the sky. This could be a representation of Jesus. It dates from the III century.
Jonah was a prophet of Yahweh in the Old Testament and the Jewish Tanakh. Jonah was a good man who had been chosen by God to preach to the city of Nineveh. Nineveh was a city where there was very bad people and that is why God wanted Jonah to go there for the inhabitants of that city to change their way of being. But Jonah decided to flee on a boat to another place in the opposite direction because he was afraid to go there. When God saw this, he wanted to teach him a lesson. Then he did that the ship where he was going, pass by a big storm. He saw that it was his fault and asked the sailors to throw him to the sea. The sailors did not want to throw him and did not believe what he said. Then he had to jump into the sea. When he jumped into the water, the storm stopped. But Jonah was swallowed by a whale. Jonah, very frightened, began to pray to God for forgiveness for his disobedience. After 3 days of being in the whale, Jonah was finally thrown by the fish on an island. He was more than grateful and promised God that he would go to Nineveh to preach his word and never disobey again.
In the West in the temple the sculpture is reduced to the size of the capitals and iconostases (iconostasis in spanish). The sculpture in the round is very scarce, being in the sarcophagus the best examples of early Christian sculpture.
About the Paleochristian art, is the art that develops during the first six centuries after the rise of Christianity. The Peace of the Church, also known as the Edict of Milan, was given in 313, when the freedom of religion in the Roman Empire was established, ending the persecutions.
In conclusion, in the Christian sculptures are represented biblical passages displayed for people to recognize them and learn them.
This artwork is in the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua, in Rome, Italy.