Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS)


Liberal Studies

First Advisor

Thomas Davis

Second Advisor

Penny Jolly


This paper examines the role of the lamb and the Good Shepherd as Christian symbols of atonement in art and music. Christians adopted the lamb as a religious symbol from ancient cultures and from Jewish sacrificial traditions. It reflects their understanding of how redemption is achieved. The author demonstrates that the lamb, as well as the Good Shepherd, became emblems commonly used by visual artists and composers to represent theories of atonement which were generally accepted during their own times, as well as those which had enjoyed popularity in the past. Significant works explored here which employ the lamb and Good Shepherd as iconic figures include early Christian funerary art, the Agnus Dei of the mass, the Easter Sequence, Hubert and Jan Van Eyck's Ghent altarpiece, Matthias Grunewald's Isenheim altarpiece, George Friderich Handel's oratorio, Messiah, and many Christian hymns. Some of these artistic works are shown to represent more than one idea about atonement.

Included in

Christianity Commons