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» Iconofile Forum   » Art and Theology   » The Lord, with Wings?! (Page 2)

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Author Topic: The Lord, with Wings?!
Tom
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Yeah, I gotta admit, even though I live in Creighton-land, that website and Nichols is dicey at best. The Christ, covered with Kaposi's Sarcoma is enought to give nightmares.

I did not bring this image up as I had already discussed it with Jill. I had been asked to commission this work but stalled as I thought it was a bit out there and could not figure out if it was "real" even though I have found ancient prototypes. Regardless, I think this is why we remain ever vigilant to judge images, despite their age on appropriatness and theological soundness. What you do after that should be based on your judgement of the research.

You know, even heretics of old could paint......

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Tom

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daniel
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I am not getting into this, only want to point out to Theron that the image he posted is by one of the two most aberrational so-called iconographers around, the Jesuit priest William Hart McNichols. (The other is his teacher, Franciscan brother Robert Lentz).
If you navigate his site you will find "icons" of Philip Berrigan, William Stringfellow, Hindus, and one called "The Passion of Matthew Shepherd". That he used the image of Christ as Holy Silence sets off the alarms; granted he also does traditional images, but his very style seems disturbed, lacking peace and silence.

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daniel

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John_Curran
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Theron speaks of Sophia, Wisdom, the Personification of an Aspect of God, as represented in the Holy Silence; in Eastern Orthodoxy, Sophia is more closely linked with the Logos. Not a Person of the Godhead, but personification of an aspect of God, as mentioned in Proverbs.
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Jill
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Theron, you might have missed this in one of my earlier posts:

quote:
It is true that over many centuries, iconographers have, in error, painted uncanonical images such as Christ Wisdom of God and Angel of Blessed Silence , both of which show Christ as an androgynous or feminine winged youth. Such images are not only denounced through Canon 82, but through several other synodal councils held from the 17th to the 20th centuries in various parts of the Orthodox world. Yet, through honest ignorance or perhaps wilfulness, such images continue to be painted even today. Dare I say that such images are a kind of Judaism, and a denial of the fullness of the incarnation of Christ.


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Theron
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There is one 18th century Russian icon, Hagia Hesychia, "Holy Silence" that portrays Christ with wings. The original icon is based on a picture in an illuminated scripture.

A modern version of this icon is here:

http://www.standreirublevicons.com/gallery.php?action=viewPicture&id=64&gall_id=15

This icon is controversial because some interpret it as an attempt to portray Holy Silence as a fourth figure of the Godhead.

The other time Christ is portrayed with wings is in Rublev's Trinity. Rublev got away with it because he never did come right out and say that he was representing the Godhead in his interpretation of Abraham's hospitality.

I don't think the scripture describes the three strangers as having wings either.

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John_Curran
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Thank you for your replies, Jill.
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Jill
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Consider also the following, from the Synodikon of the Sunday of Orthodoxy:

Those who know that the rod and the tablets, the ark and the lamp, and the table, and the altar depicted in advance and prefigured the All-holy Virgin, Mary, the Mother of God; and also that these things prefigured her, and she did not become them, for the Maiden was and remained after giving birth to God a virgin, and therefore the maiden is to be depicted in images rather than foreshadowed in types: May their memory be eternal!

If it is so clearly proclaimed as improper for the Mother of God to be depicted in the prefigurative forms of the OT, then why would it somehow be proper to portray Christ in His pre-incarnate state? God did not unite Himself to the angelic nature, but to the human. He did not become an angel, He became a man in nature, and in truth. Iconography expresses and proclaims that truth.

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Jill
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No, John, Christ should be painted in His revealed humanity, not in any pre-incarnational, symbolic, or metaphysical manner. Icons themselves, being made of matter, of material substance, are testament to the truth of the Incarnation, and therefore any figurative portrayals of Christ fall short of the mark in declaring and expressing the full humanity, as well as the full divinity of Christ. To deny the full incarnation and full humanity of Christ is heresy, pure and simple. This was the crux of the importance of the victory of the iconodules over the iconoclasts. Like so many heresies, the iconoclastic conflict was Christological. If Christianity cannot get Christ "right", then it ceases to be true Christianity.

More from the patristic and liturgical deposit of the Orthodox Church:

From St John of Damascus:

Of old, God the incorporeal and uncircumscribed was not depicted at all. But now that God has appeared in the flesh and lived among men, I make an image of the God who can be seen. I do not worship matter but I worship the Creator of matter, who for my sake became material and deigned to dwell in matter, who through matter effected my salvation. I will not cease from venerating the matter through which my salvation has been effected.

If we made an image of the invisible God, we would certainly be in error ... but we do not do anything of the kind; we do not err, in fact, if we make the image of God incarnate who appeared on earth in the flesh, who in His ineffable goodness, lived with men and assumed the nature, the volume, the form, and the colour of the flesh...


The Kontakion for the feast of the Sunday of Orthodoxy, held on the first Sunday of Great Lent, which commemorates the restoration of iconography as a proper and necessary part of Orthodox faith and devotion, and the final defeat of iconoclasm:

The indefinable Word of the Father made Himself definable, having taken flesh from you, O Mother of God, and having refashioned the soiled image of man to its former state, has suffused it with divine beauty. Confessing salvation, we proclaim it in deed and word.

We must be very careful to base any iconographic representation not on what "feels right", but on what the Church teaches and proclaims. An iconographer is not a free agent giving full rein to his artistic creativity and talent, but an instrument of the Church, and therefore bound to express the teachings of the Church clearly and accurately through his work.

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John_Curran
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Should Christ then, be painted now only in His Transfigured Body? I imagine someone with more theology than me could make a convincing argument.

If Icons are theology in line and color, and the images are Scriptural, even if Old Testament, how can they be wrong?

In other words, if we are to throw out the pre-Incarnation images, should we even be reading the Psalms, the theology in words?

I know where you are coming from, Jill, but I cannot agree.

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Jill
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Hello John

Christ should not be depicted in icons other than in His revealed, incarnate form, i.e. as a divine Child, as a twelve-year-old (in icons of the feast of Mid-Pentecost), and as an adult. The Lord is indeed very frequently described in often evocative and florid poetic terms and imagery in the Old Testament. The hymn "God is With Us" (Slavonic: S'nami Bog, Greek: Meth'ymon o Theos, sung during Great Compline is full of such imagery derived from OT scripture, from Psalms as well as prophecies.

However, two things must be remembered here: Firstly, Compline, like Vespers and Matins, is a prefiguration and anticipation of the Divine Liturgy, which reveals Christ in His fullness, notably in the Eucharist. Secondly, such OT imagery is but types and shadows, mere prefigurations of the incarnate, revealed Lord.

Canon 82 of the Quinisext Ecumenical Council is quite clear on the matter of symbolic or metaphysical portrayals of Christ:

In certain reproductions of venerable images, the Forerunner is pictured pointing to the lamb with his finger. This representation was adopted as a symbol of grace. It was a hidden figure of that true Lamb who is Christ our God, shown to us according to the Law. Having thus welcomed these ancient figures and shadows as symbols of the truth transmitted to the Church, we prefer today grace and truth themselves, as a fulfilment of the Law. Therefore, in order to expose to the sight of all, at least with the help of painting, that which is perfect, we decree that henceforth Christ our God be represented in His human form, and not in the form of the ancient lamb. We understand this to be the elevation of the humility of God the Word, and we are led to remembering His life in the flesh, His passion, His saving death and, thus, deliverance which took place for the world.

In other words, now that Christ has revealed Himself to us as God and Man, what need have we of pre-incarnational, symbolic or metaphysical representations? Why have the "type and shadow", when we now have "the real thing"?

St John of Damascus also has much to say about this. Here is but one quote:

Since the invisible One became visible by taking on flesh, you can fashion the image of Him whom you saw. Since He who has neither body nor form nor quantity nor quality, who goes beyond all grandeur by the excellence of His nature, He, being of divine nature, took on the condition of a slave and reduced Himself to quantity and quality by clothing Himself in human features. Therefore, paint on wood and present for contemplation Him who desired to become visible.

It is true that over many centuries, iconographers have, in error, painted uncanonical images such as Christ Wisdom of God and Angel of Blessed Silence, both of which show Christ as an androgynous or feminine winged youth. Such images are not only denounced through Canon 82, but through several other synodal councils held from the 17th to the 20th centuries in various parts of the Orthodox world. Yet, through honest ignorance or perhaps wilfulness, such images continue to be painted even today. Dare I say that such images are a kind of Judaism, and a denial of the fullness of the incarnation of Christ.

You may also wish to revisit the comments I made on the Winged Baptist thread.

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John_Curran
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I ws directed to Psalm 91 verse 4, which made me think about the appropriateness of using wings in icons of the Lord. A possible theological argument in favor thereof?
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