Triumph of the Icons
...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 1:21 PM [+]
As my Orthodox readers well know, today is the Sunday of Orthodoxy. It is one of my favorite "HUZZAH for Orthodoxy" sort of days. Those non-Orthodox with a handful of religious knowledge usually are able to associate the Orthodox Church with the Icons she adores and so this sunday when we commemorate the 7th Ecumencial Council it is somewhat of a celebration of our own identity. But that's certainly not the end of the story (i.e. that Icons are merely calling card for the Orthodox)...there is more to icons than meets the eyes.
The fact that the feast of the Annunciation is coming up this week is a commentary in and of itself. God made visible.
But what I want to note today is a little bit of what - on the surface - may appear to be a tidbit of trivial history, but in actuality there are some fairly deep theological undertones. Ever notice that you NEVER seen an Orthodox Icon of Christ where he appears to be a lamb? Well, The 7th Ecumenical Council positively references Canon 82 of the Quinisext Council of 692, which itself had been rejected by Pope Sergius at the time - despite being universally received by the Patriarchs in the East. Canon 82 says the following:
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, today we prefer grace and truth themselves, as a fulfillment 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 ancient form of the 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.
And though the West clearly accepted the 7th Ecumenical Council, they apparently paid little heed to the reference to this canon of the Quinisext Council which they rejected, for still to this day one can find numerous images of Christ as a lamb in western churches, but not so in the Orthodox Church.
And now you know the rest of the story.
A foundational basis for our "Theology of Icons" is wrapped up in the Incarnation.
God preserve the Holy Orthodox Church and her Icons.
So who'll be first to try and show me an "Orthodox" icon in which Christ is depicted as a lamb?
Lump it amongst those depicting the "Father"