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Closely integrated with the daily life of the East Romans, it was able to perfect and adapt its central administration, to organize its provinces and dioceses to meet changing needs, and to introduce its religion and way of life to its Slav neighbours. Above all it deepened its spiritual life which was centred in a developing liturgical round, particularly in the eucharist. This service kept its original character and purpose, but during the course of the middle ages it was gradually enriched by additional actions, responses, hymns, and ceremonies.

The Byzantines had a strong feeling for dignified ceremony and symbolism and this left its mark in ecclesiastical as well as imperial developments, bringing out and enhancing the meaning of the liturgy and indeed of the Christian faith. But it did not obscure the purpose of the sacramental life as is evidenced by the writings of the more spiritually minded members of the Church, often monks, but by no means always so. The vigilance with which the Church guarded doctrinal belief was seen not only in its relations with the Latin Church but in its treatment of heresies which cropped up within the Empire, particularly adherence to ancient Greek thought conflicting with Christian teaching as well as various forms of widespread and recurrent end p.

Such challenges were brought to light and met in public trials and by synodal rulings.

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Then there was a whole range of dubious superstitions, belief in portents and wonders, demonology, magical practices, to be found at all levels of society. These were to some extent ingrained in human nature and were frequently pinpointed by official condemnation. But often there was a very thin line between superstition and more harmless folklore much of which has survived into modern times. What mattered was the liturgical life and faithful adherence to the traditions of the Church.

Hussey Christological Problem in the Early Middle 1. The seventh-century watershed in the Byzantine Empire The emergence of the medieval Roman Empire is often placed in the fourth century AD. This is because the foundation of Constantinople as the capital of what was then the eastern — and senior — half of the Roman Empire and the acceptance of the Christian religion by the ruling dynasty shaped the destiny of East Rome throughout the middle ages.

But from the political, and to some extent the ecclesiastical, point of view it was the seventh century which saw the two major changes which subsequently influenced the whole tenor of Byzantine life. The rise of Muhammad and the subsequent victories of the Muslims in the south and east brought a contraction of the physical boundaries of the Christian Empire and a religious challenge which was never fully met. At the same time the South Slavs were advancing into the Balkan provinces with in some ways more propitious results for Byzantium. It is true that this penetration eventually brought the establishment of independent, and on occasion menacing, principalities within the Roman provinces south of the Danube, but at the same time it provided a much-needed infusion of fresh blood and manpower into the Byzantine polity for many Slavs settled within the Empire and became integrated into its multiracial society.

In contrast to the Muslim Arab and Turkic invaders, the Slavs accepted Christianity and learnt much from Hellenic civilization and Graeco-Roman statecraft. That this challenging situation was to some extent brought under control and the Empire thus spared complete disintegration was largely due to the quality of Byzantine rulers during both the seventh and eighth centuries. So in spite of mistakes in their religious policy they managed to halt the Muslim advance into Asia Minor, thus retaining the indispensable Asian core of Empire, and end p.

And, as will subsequently emerge, in their different ways both Slav and Muslim radically altered the ecclesiastical situation in the Christian world. Slav acceptance of Christianity brought an enlargement and enrichment of the Christian family, as well as welcome additional manpower to the East Roman Empire. Muslim domination of some of the oldest Christian regions meant a change of emphasis in the administrative framework of the Church. Alexandria and Antioch, formerly powerful advocates of their differing interpretations of Christian doctrine and leaders in the Christian world, were now in infidel territory, likewise Jerusalem which by reason of its associations had always been — and was to remain — a special centre of Christian devotion.

This threw into high relief the claims of Rome long associated with St Peter and St Paul and of Constantinople, the New Rome, with its growing prestige as the imperial capital. The theological background to seventh-century monotheletism The theological problems of the seventh century did not mark the opening of any new era. Throughout the late Roman and early medieval periods the Church had been concerned with the gradual formulation of basic Christian doctrine.

It was necessary to define its teaching on the Trinity and the Incarnation, on cosmology and soteriology, not only in order to instruct the faithful but to meet the challenge of successive heretical interpretations. The continuity and constructive nature of this work should be stressed and the Byzantines themselves frequently emphasised the extent to which they were carrying on the tradition of 'the Fathers'.

This tradition was built up by men of vision who dominated the early centuries, but it did not end with the fourth-century Cappadocians or the first four general councils from Nicaea I to Chalcedon For instance, Chalcedon left problems only partly solved; certain of Origen's heretical views lingered on in the sixth century and beyond; and there was need to enlarge the Christian theological vocabulary in order to explain more clearly the full implications of the Incarnation, particularly in so far as this was related to man's place in the Divine economy.

Thus the seventh and eighth centuries saw the Church still end p. It saw too the positive contribution of an outstanding Christian thinker, the seventh-century Maximus the Confessor. All too often historians convey a negative impression of the work of the early Byzantine Church, implying that it was dominated by complicated conciliar arguments and fruitless attempts to placate dissident elements, such as the monophysites or the Nestorians, particularly in the sixth and seventh centuries. This is not really true, and the failure of apparent political aims should not obscure doctrinal achievement.

The seventh-century theological controversies can be traced back to the problems arising out of the council of Chalcedon This council had stated that Christ had two natures, the divine and the human, but one person or hypostasis. Its definition that Christ is known 'in two natures' had tended to offend the Alexandrians and in particular the followers of Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria d. Its supporters were regarded as dyophysites in contrast to those who stressed a single nature, the monophysites. As was the practice in the Byzantine Empire, Emperor and churchmen both took part in ecclesiastical affairs.

The greater part of the sixth century was dominated by Justinian Perhaps more than any other Byzantine Emperor he interpreted his imperial mandate as including theological as well as the administrative problems of the Church. He obviously desired to find some solution to current doctrinal controversy which would be acceptable to Rome and the West and would quiet the dissenting voices of monophysites and Nestorians. But it should be noted that the imperial provinces in which monophysite views predominated, Egypt and Syria for instance, were not at first hostile towards the central government and separatist in outlook.

This only developed when they had abandoned hope after Jacob Baradaeus had provided a rival episcopate of gaining a monophysite Emperor, that is, until after Theodora's death. It was for reasons of prestige that Alexandria certainly resented the rise to power of Constantinople and the increasingly decisive part which the imperial capital took in ecclesiastical as well as secular affairs. But the political element should not obscure the primary importance of the theological problem. The Alexandrians took their stand on Cyril of Alexandria's end p.

Thus it was possible for Cyrillian Chalcedonians to accept the theopaschite formula which arose as a subject of controversy when the Patriarch of Antioch, Peter the Fuller d. Extreme dyophysites maintained that the human Christ and not the Logos suffered on the cross, a view which would deny the unity of the two natures forming one person.

At Constantinople the Trisagion was commonly understood as referring to the Trinity, in which case the addition was not orthodox. But the use of the phrase 'crucified for us' as applied to God the Son was vital. The Word, the Son of God, and not just the human Christ, had to suffer in the flesh if man was to fulfil his destiny in the divine economy through his deification. As Gregory of Nazianzus put it 'In order that we may live again, we need a God who was incarnate and suffered death. This question of the nature of the hypostatic union with the soteriological implications was faced in the sixth century.

Justinian supported by his Patriarch and by the Fifth general council Constantinople II, drew out the intentions of Chalcedon in making it clear that the human Christ and the eternal Logos had a single hypostatic identity. Thus theopaschism was acceptable in the sense that one of the Trinity, the Son of God, was crucified and buried. At the same time certain teachings of the Nestorians were condemned in Justinian's censure of the Three Chapters that is excerpts from Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret, and Ibas of Edessa favouring a strongly two-nature Christology , which was confirmed by the council of with the reluctant assent of the Pope Vigilius.

Though the Edict of Union the Henoticon , an attempt to compromise with the monophysites sponsored by the Emperors Zeno and Anastasius SI 8 had been repudiated under Justinian's uncle, Justin I , the recognition in end p. The standing council in Constantinople synodos endemousa had already condemned certain heretical views on the creation and on the nature of man deriving from Origen d. This censure of Origenism was confirmed by the council of Monenergism and monotheletism against a background of imperial crisis Though of first importance for Orthodox theology the strenuous efforts of Justinian and the Fifth general council did not win over the monophysites.

In the following century once again their differences with the Chalcedonians came to a head over the distinction or otherwise of the divine and human nature in Christ. Following Chalcedon it had been officially emphasized in that there was a single person in two natures. The problem now centred in a question which had not yet been specifically dealt with by a general council, that is, whether there were one or two operations or activities and one or two wills in the incarnate Christ.

This question was vital to the controversy because to have agreed on one energeia or one will would have answered one of the principal monophysite objections to the Chalcedonian definition, and therefore should have gained monophysite support. But it should be recognized that in exploring this problem monothelites and monenergists remained Chalcedonians and not compromising monophysites as was the case under Cyrus in Egypt for a short time.

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This question of the human and divine natures of Christ would in any case have needed formal examination and pronouncement, but it unfortunately arose in the seventh century against a particularly disturbed background. The Empire was then facing a serious and prolonged crisis. The Italian lands were being eaten away by the Lombard invaders, though Ravenna and the South were still held and there was strong Greek influence within Rome itself.

The end p. The northern frontier seemed to be collapsing before the sustained Avar and Slav penetration. And at one point the Persians even encamped on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus, though their plan to capture Constantinople with Avar aid in failed. It did however seem that the very existence of the Empire was being threatened.

It was therefore all the more necessary to promote the traditional imperial policy of unity within the polity. Unfortunately there were now two main bodies of Christian dissidents — the monophysites whose strength lay in Egypt and Syria, and the Nestorians who had established their non-Chalcedonian Church on Persian territory. For their part, the Persians fully realized the advantages of favouring these separatists, whether within their Empire or in their newly-conquered regions, and the Chalcedonians suffered accordingly.

In the Byzantine Empire there was a close alliance between the Emperor Heraclius and Sergius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, and they both realized that their position would be strengthened if they could win over at least the monophysites. Heraclius, a man of considerable military and administrative capability, succeeded in driving back the Persians and may have been responsible though this is disputed for inaugurating some kind of reorganization of the Asia Minor provinces into regions themes in which military needs were given precedence.

The move to support him in the religious sphere seems to have come from the Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople who, like the Emperor Heraclius, was greatly concerned to pacify the monophysites, particularly the Copts of Egypt and the Jacobites of Syria and the Armenian provinces. The Jacobites were so called from the monophysite bishop Jacob Baradaeus who had ensured the succession of the monophysite episcopate in Syria by his underground consecrations during Justinian's reign.

The Nestorian Church in Persia did not pose so obvious a threat to Byzantine imperial recovery and in any case was now somewhat removed from its jurisdiction. During the early years of his patriarchate Sergius sounded various ecclesiastics for their views on a single activity EVEpyeia in Christ. Much of the evidence comes from references in Maximus end p. Sergius saw good hope of reconciling the monophysite critics of Chalcedon's 'in two natures' by the formula 'one activity and one will'.

From he began to circulate a forged memorandum to Pope Vigilius ascribed to the Patriarch Menas of Constantinople in which this formula occurred and he asked for a verdict on its reconciling potentialities. Approaches in the eastern provinces, Syria, Armenia, and Mesopotamia were made, partly through the mediation of the Emperor Heraclius who was engaged in re-establishing Byzantine authority in the lands recently occupied by the Persians. He hoped that the doctrine of a single activity would win over the strongly entrenched monophysites who had been so markedly favoured by the Persians and were largely in control of the Churches in these regions.

Thus, with the assistance of Sergius, in Heraclius discussed the question of the single activity with Cyrus of Phasis, and Sergius subsequently wrote to him defending a single activity in Christ. The Emperor also attempted to promote monenergism in Armenia where Ezra had become Catholicos. Greek, Syrian, and Armenian sources vary in their accounts of relations between Byzantium and the Armenian Church but it is likely that Armenian opposition to Chalcedon arose not so much from doctrinal dissent from a council where they had not been present as from hostility towards the subordination of Armenia to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Constantinople.

In Syria and Palestine Heraclius did rather better in end p. More tangible results were achieved in Egypt. Here there had been conflict between the Chalcedonian and monophysite parties. Cyrus published his pact of union consisting of nine chapters or statements on the Christology which it was hoped would be acceptable to both Chalcedonians and monophysites under pain of anathema.

The seventh attempt deals with the single activity of Christ by anathematizing those not confessing that 'this one and the same Christ and Son worked both the divine and human by one theandric activity as St Dionysius says'. The Pseudo-Dionysius speaks however of a 'new' and not 'one', theandric activity PG 3, col.

There seems to be a certain deliberate ambiguity in this formula and indeed, in trying to conciliate the monophysites without antagonizing the Chalcedonians, Cyrus spoke of having used 'a flexibility oeconomia pleasing to God' in the 10 wording without in any way sacrificing orthodoxy. The first significant opposition to the doctrine of monenergism came from Sophronius. He had been born in Damascus and was a Palestinian monk who had travelled widely. He knew the famous exponent of orthodoxy, Maximus the Confessor, who had acquired his title 'Confessor' as a result of his sufferings in the defence of Chalcedonian purity against monothelete compromises and had been head of the imperial chancery before becoming a monk and dedicating himself to the Chalcedonian cause.

Sophronius was in Alexandria at the time of Cyrus' declaration and begged him to desist. A year later in , old as he was, he became Patriarch of Jerusalem the Arab invasion of that year having removed Palestine from Byzantine control. In the customary systatic, or synodal, letter to the other patriarchs and the Pope announcing his enthronement Sophronius made clear his position by stressing the two natures of Christ, divine and human, and the two activities in a single person, asserting that a single activity would imply a single nature and would therefore be contrary to dyophysite belief.

He also pointed out Cyrus' substitution of 'one' for 'new' in his use of end p. Before his election as patriarch Sophronius had also visited Constantinople to remonstrate with the Patriarch Sergius, who tried to temporize by issuing an instruction the Psephos, June stating that the terms 'one activity' and 'two activities' were not to be used.

The doctrinal position was elaborated by Sergius in a letter to Pope Honorius. The Latin original of Honorius' reply is not extant, but the Greek translation was used at the Sixth general council where Honorius was specifically condemned with the then Pope's concurrence. Wolfson, favourable and Murphy-Sherwood, critical. Against the threat of further invasion and the knowledge that the enforced doctrinal unity in the eastern provinces was only too precarious, Heraclius, at the instigation of Sergius, took the controversy to its logical conclusion as he saw it by asserting that Christ had a single will, as was implied in monenergism.

An Ecthesis or exposition of faith, based on Sergius's Psephos was drawn up with the help of Pyrrhus subsequently his successor and was set up in the narthex of Hagia Sophia autumn This restated Chalcedonian teaching on the Trinity and Incarnation, forbade discussion concerning either one or two activities in the incarnate Saviour, and asserted that Christ had a single will but without confusion of his two natures, each keeping its own attributes in a single person, the Incarnate Logos.

Murphy-Sherwood, ff. See Hefele, III 1 , ff. Sergius died on 8 December and Pyrrhus became Patriarch of Constantinople. At this stage Pyrrhus supported the monotheletes end p. The next five years saw a confused political and ecclesiastical situation. The old Emperor Heraclius died in , having failed to drive back either the Arabs who were pouring into Syria, Palestine, and Egypt, or the Slavs crossing the Danube into the Balkans.

He also left a succession complicated by rival family claims.

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Opposition to the official ecclesiastical policy was growing in both orthodox and monophysite circles. Anti-Chalcedonian Armenia and monophysite Egypt were almost ready to come to terms with their new Muslim masters. Orthodox opposition, centred in the person of Maximus the Confessor, was steadily growing in North Africa. He tried to clear Honorius of any acquiescence in this and he anathematized monotheletism. Patriarch Pyrrhus who had been associated with the Ecthesis fled to Africa.

Paul became Patriarch , though Pyrrhus had not been canonically deposed, as Pope Theodore John IV's successor was to point out in his answer to Paul's synodal letter to him announcing his consecration. Pyrrhus subsequently had a curious career which illustrates the uncertainty many felt concerning the controversy over monenergism and monotheletism. Pyrrhus pleaded for the use of either phrase — two wills, and one will, on the ground that since complete harmony existed between the two wills it was possible to speak of 'one common will consisting of two individual wills'.

Maximus refuted this on the ground that there can be a composite person or hypostasis but not a composite single nature. Pyrrhus professed himself convinced. He then went to Rome where he was received by Pope Theodore and now recognized as the legitimate Patriarch of Constantinople, though subsequently he recanted, fled to Ravenna, and was then end p.

Theodore had also written a letter of protest to Patriarch Paul which is no longer extant, but is known from Paul's reply, in which he defended 'a single will of our Lord, in order not to ascribe to the one Person a 17 conflict or a difference of wills, so as not to be forced to admit two willers' 17 Mansi, X. GR 2 and Van Dieten, 88 ff. Though in the form of an imperial edict, Paul was most probably behind this. It stated briefly the two sides of the controversy and then commanded the cessation of further discussion and the removal of the Ecthesis from Hagia Sophia.

The faithful should henceforth follow 'the Holy Scriptures and the traditions of the five oecumenical councils and the utterances and confessions of the Fathers'. Penalties for infringement were appended. The defect in the eyes of the orthodox was the failure to come down in their favour by specifically denouncing the monotheletes. On the contrary, the Type laid down that none of those who had previously taught one will and one activity, or two wills and two activities, should If the Type was meant to appease papal opposition it failed.

Pope Theodore had died on 14 May and on 5 July Martin I, who had been apocrisiarius in Constantinople, was consecrated without waiting for imperial approval which could have been given through the exarch of Ravenna. He immediately called a synod which met in the Lateran on 5 October It was attended by some hundred bishops mainly from the West, Italy, Africa, though others such as Stephen of Dor in Palestine also took part, and there were as well refugee monks and clerics from the East in Rome including Theodore of Tarsus.

Maximus the Confessor was there, urging return to orthodoxy. The Type had been issued in the form of an imperial edict and the sanctions mentioned in its closing paragraph would have been implemented by imperial authority. But its critics put the onus for it squarely on Patriarch Paul of Constantinople and were careful not to criticize the Emperor. Perhaps they hoped to win him over, for it was clearly in imperial interests that harmony should be restored, since ecclesiastical discord could only weaken resistance to both internal revolts and increasing end p. The monotheletes tried to discredit the orthodoxy of Martin I and of the West by drawing attention to another issue, the addition of the filioque to the creed, the earliest instance of this accusation 19 being brought against the West.

The Lateran synod in Rome was not an oecumenical council but one of the normal bi-annual provincial synods as visualized by Nicaea I canon 5. As was customary when doctrinal problems were discussed, both the statements being questioned and the supporting evidence from the Bible and the fathers were read out by a notary, in this case the chief notary Theophylact. Both sides would usually prepare this material in the form of a florilegium or anthology of appropriate passages.

Interventions were made by the various members of the synod, on this occasion chiefly by Pope Martin and Bishops Maximus of Aquileia and Deusdedit of Cagliari in Sardinia. As always, great stress was laid on fidelity to patristic tradition. The strong Greek element among the clergy of Rome may have had something to do with the fact that there was a Greek as well as a Latin version of the acta, 20 PG 90, col. The Greek was said to have been at the request of the Greek monks as it was intended that the proceedings should be digested by Greek-speaking regions.

It would seem that Greek modes of thought naturally prevailed and Maximus the Confessor may have had a major hand in this. The greater part of the time was taken by the notarial reading of the evidence produced by both sides. The synod ended by affirming Chalcedon, with an addition on the two natures and an elaboration in twenty canons dealing more explicitly with the controversial Christology, condemning by name Theodore of Pharan, Cyrus of Alexandria, Sergius of Constantinople, and his successors Pyrrhus and Paul, as well as the 'impiissimam Ecthesim' and 'scelerosum Typum', but carefully avoiding criticism of the Emperor.

Pope Martin evidently thought it proper that in matters of heresy he should take the lead. He sent an encyclical with the acta of the council to rulers and bishops of both East and West, including the patriarchates of Jerusalem and Antioch, despite the fact that they end p. Paul, Archbishop of Thessalonica whose vicarate of lllyricum came under papal jurisdiction was deposed and excommunicated until he should accept the acta.

A special letter was also sent to the Emperor Constans from the Pope and synod with the Greek acta, asking for his support in rooting out heresy. Constans reacted with hostility to Martin's conciliar activities. He also took exception to Martin's failure to get imperial approval of his election from the exarch of Ravenna. Olympius, the exarch originally sent to Rome in to call the Pope to account, himself rebelled and subsequently died in It was not until June that another exarch was able to act on his instructions and arrest Martin who was taken prisoner to Constantinople where he was tried, partly for an irregular election, but mainly for treason on the ground that he had supported the rebel Olympius, charges which he refuted, showing throughout both dignity and humility under cruel treatment.

No discussion of what was ostensibly the real reason for his arrest, that is the religious controversy and the unilateral actions of the Lateran council of , was permitted during his interrogation. He was exiled to Cherson in March and died on 16 September The monk Maximus the Confessor, a powerful force behind the orthodox position, was also arrested, probably in though the exact date is uncertain.

He was brought to Constantinople and imprisoned and tried on both political and religious grounds. At his first trial, probably in May , he was accused of treasonable activities in North Africa at the time of the exarch Gregory's revolt and the Arab invasion, and of holding heretical Origenist tenets.

But the real charge against him was his support of the Lateran council of and his refusal to recognize the Type. The Emperor shrewdly recognized the powerful influence of Maximus and attempted for several years to win him over by persuasive means. After his first trial he was exiled to Bizya in Thrace and there are extant accounts of his discussions with Theodosius, archbishop of Caesarea in Bithynia.

Maximus maintained the validity of synodal rulings whether or not a end p. Finally, persuasion and clemency having failed, Maximus was retried in Constantinople in the spring of and condemned to mutilation and banishment to the fortress of Schemarium in Caucasian Lazica, where he died on 13 August Constans II had good reason to fear Maximus who was a far more able protagonist than anyone in the monothelete camps, and was indeed the outstanding theologian of the seventh century.

The condemnation and death of Pope Martin and Maximus the Confessor somewhat paradoxically saw the orthodox triumph. Martin's successors, Popes Eugenius and Vitalian , were on better terms with the Emperor Constans, who was by now so heavily pressed by the Arabs and Slavs that he even thought of transferring his seat of Empire to Italy.

In he himself came first to Rome, and then to Sicily, where he made Syracuse his centre. When he visited Rome he was apparently on amicable terms with Vitalian. The religious controversy seemed to have been dropped, and indeed Constans must have realized the need for internal unity in view of the dangerous situation of the Empire. After Constans M's assassination in , his son and successor Constantine IV began by devoting himself to countering the Arab and Avar attacks which culminated in a bid to take the City itself, effectively defeated in This was certainly one of the decisive events in the long drawn-out struggle between Christendom and Islam.

It was followed by a move towards peace in the Church when in Constantine approached the Pope, asking him to send twelve bishops and representatives of the Greek monasteries in the West to Constantinople to discuss the doctrinal misunderstandings which had arisen.

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The Pope, then Agatho , consulted his bishops throughout the West, even as far distant as the aged Theodore of Tarsus, 'archbishop of the great island of Britain and philosopher', and then sent the Emperor Constantine a letter and a profession of faith condemning monotheletism. The delegates arrived in Constantinople on 10 September and the Emperor gave orders to his Patriarch George to convoke his bishops, and likewise to the titular Macarius of Antioch, and the ecclesiastics of Alexandria and the patriarchal vicar of Jerusalem. The proposed discussion thus turned into a general council, the Sixth, or Constantinople III , called by the Emperor, and end p.

The council held eighteen sessions, from 7 November to 16 September In the first session the papal legates, addressing the Emperor, asked who had introduced 'the new doctrine of one activity and one energy in the incarnate Lord Jesus Christ', and the Emperor invited the Patriarchs George of Constantinople and Macarius of Antioch and others to reply to the papal legates. Throughout it was really Macarius who was the defender of monotheletism and monenergism, attempting to base his defence on the tradition of the fathers and the five general councils, as well as the pronouncements of the Patriarchs of Constantinople Sergius, Pyrrhus, Paul, Peter, and also Pope Honorius of Rome and Patriarch Cyrus of Alexandria.

Macarius, when in the second session he was confronted with Pope Leo's 'Agit enim utraque forma', maintained that Leo had not actually spoken of two activities and that he himself did not specify any number but simply followed Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite in speaking of 'theandric activity', moreover he refused to attempt to give any definition of 'theandric 26 activity.

But later at the eighth session he admitted that he spoke only of 'one will and a theandric activity', not two natural activities and two natural wills. The council in its various sessions considered the patristic and conciliar evidence collected by both sides and the dyothelite doctrine was accepted. Macarius was condemned in the ninth session and deposed 'from all priestly dignity and 28 function', as was his follower Stephen.

In succeeding sessions there was considerable discussion particularly concerning patriarchal and papal offenders. Attempts to soften any condemnation, or at least publicity, failed. After lengthy discussions and prolonged raking through the patriarchal archives for all available material, those, living or dead, who had supported the heretical doctrine on the single activity and the single will were anathematized and a statement was issued, thus summarizing Christological belief: Completely preserving that which is without confusion or division we briefly state the whole; believing that after his incarnation our Lord Jesus end p.

In this, throughout the whole course of his incarnate life, he made manifest his sufferings and miracles, not simply in appearance but in reality. The difference of the natures is recognised in one and the same hypostasis because each nature wills and works what is proper to it in communion with the other. Thus we proclaim two natural wills and two natural 29 activities working together for the salvation of the human race.

The minutes of the sessions of the Sixth general council were prepared by hand of Agatho, the archivist or chartophylax of the Great Church and six copies were made for the Emperor, the Pope, and the four patriarchs. They were read, approved, and signed by the Emperor and those present, and were received and accepted by Pope Conon in Rome who before he became Pope had taken part in the council as a papal legate. Thus the re-establishment of orthodoxy and the rejection of monenergism and monotheletism had brought Constantinople and Rome together again.

The attempt to meet the monophysites had failed, and, like the Nestorians, they were not reconciled to the main body of Christendom and continued to build up their separate Churches mainly in what were by now Muslim-dominated territories. The Quinisextum council 30 GR I 2.

Salaville, REB, 2 , on the date and V. Relations between Rome and Constantinople were soon disturbed again due to differences raised by the Quinisextum council, known as the council in Trullo because it was held in the domed hall of the imperial palace in Constantinople. This council was called as was customary by the Emperor then Justinian II but without consultation with Rome. It opened some time after 1 September Neither the Fifth nor the Sixth general councils had passed disciplinary canons since they had concentrated on dogma, and after a span of more than two hundred years there were outstanding problems concerning discipline and morals, apart from end p.

In this, as in other respects, Justinian II may too have wished to emulate his more famous namesake in his care for the good ordering of the polity. At the council the opening address by the Emperor stated that the decay of general moral standards demanded urgent attention and stressed the need to eliminate Jewish and pagan elements. The canons are significant on various counts. A number deal with the old perennial problems of the early middle ages, such as clergy discipline and the difficulties caused by barbarian incursions. Clerics forced to leave their churches or unable to reach them because of invaders were to return as soon as political conditions allowed can.

The tendency to linger in the capital shown by all ranks was in fact by no means only due to enemy occupation, and was indeed found throughout the Byzantine period since a country appointment was often regarded as virtual exile. Bishops who could not even get to their sees because they were in enemy hands were urged to exercise the authority of their office from other bases can. As reflected in earlier councils, monastic life posed continual problems. Pseudo- hermits in black clothes and with long hair who lived a worldly city life were either to enter a cenobitic house or to be expelled to the desert can.

Genuine hermits were first to spend three years probation in a monastery, submitting to the abbot's discipline, followed by a further year outside the monastery before final enclosure can. Women were not to wear a display of fine clothes and jewels when approaching the altar to be clothed can. Once they had committed themselves to the monastic life they were not to leave their house without the superior's consent and then only if accompanied by an elder nun can.

Certain popular pastimes were forbidden to lay and cleric alike under pain of excommunication or deposition respectively: gambling can. The consultation of soothsayers, use of incantations and amulets, so common in the late Roman Empire, were all prohibited can. Certain pagan festivities and survivals were to be rooted out from the life of the end p. Such folk customs were however too deeply ingrained to be rooted out by conciliar decree and there is evidence that some of these long survived.

Whenever possible folklore was incorporated into the life of the Church but it did not always lend itself to this, hence the prohibitions laid down in such canons as these. Various rulings also reflect on general everyday conduct, such as the canon against stabling animals in churches except in cases of dire need can. Wise care in regulating the normal daily life of lay and cleric was unlikely to offend the devout laity and clergy. There were however two groups of rulings to which exception was taken by Churches outside the patriarchate of Constantinople.

The Armenians were called to order for using only wine at communion and not wine and water can. The Armenian Church, always touchy in its relations with Constantinople, did not accept those canons in a co-operative spirit. Still more serious was the opposition from Rome which, like Armenia, was reproved for usages differing from those of Constantinople. The Quinisextum had followed up its opening affirmation of the first six general councils can.

Further, an important end p. Another canon to which Rome took exception was a statement on the position of Constantinople in the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Rome had not yet accepted Chalcedon canon 28, and primacy, and to a lesser extent, clerical marriage and fasting in Lent, were points of difference which continued to arise from time to time in polemic and which soured relations between Constantinople and Rome, particularly the question of primacy. Justinian II obviously desired and expected the Pope to confirm the acta of the Trullan council which was regarded as a continuation of the Sixth general council, and therefore fully oecumenical, a view which continues to be held by the Orthodox Churches.

Of the fathers at the council of whom signed acta , 10 came from eastern lllyricum, still under papal jurisdiction 1 from Hellas, 4 from Crete, 4 from Macedonia, and 1 from Epirus. The council was also attended by the resident papal apocrisiarius, Basil bishop of Gortyna in Crete, who signed the minutes. According to the Liber Pontificalis, the Pope 35 subsequently disavowed the signatures of the Roman legates. The papal signature was however necessary in order to confer oecumenicity.

A special place of honour in the copy of the acta was left for this purpose, as also for the signatures of the absent prelates of Ravenna, Thessalonica, and Corinth. Pope Sergius I refused on the ground that he could not accept all the disciplinary rulings. The Byzantine protospathar Zacharias, sent soon after the.. Justinian II was at that time unable to pursue the matter, as he had to meet disaffection at home which shortly afterwards drove him from the throne in When he returned from exile in he took up the question of Roman recognition of the council in Trullo with the Pope, then John VII , and was milder in his demands.

He sent two metropolitans to Rome suggesting that the Pope should call a council of bishops to look at the canons and draw up 37 a list of those which were not acceptable to Rome. Apparently the Pope made no changes in the document and returned it to the Emperor, the Liber Pontificalis implying that he signed it. Murphy — Sherwood, , who consider that he did not sign in spite of the evidence of the Liber Pontificalis.

After a journey by way of South Italy and Chios he was royally received in Constantinople, and then went to Nicomedia to meet the Emperor, returning in October with an imperial renewal of the privileges of 40 the Roman Church. The Liber Pontificalis, the only extant source, is brief on this episode, but appears to indicate that the Pope and the Emperor resolved their differences over the disputed canons.

The council in Trullo was a telling comment on seventh-century Christendom. The canons on the disrupted diocesan life, the monastic disorder, the pagan survivals, speak for themselves. The Emperor, in accordance with established tradition, regarded himself as responsible for the right ordering of Christian life and he naturally assumed that this task should be carried out in conciliar collaboration with the episcopate.

He clearly wished to ensure uniformity in ecclesiastical usage, hence the comment in canon 56 on Armenian Lenten fasting. But though Constantinople, the imperial capital and bulwark of Christendom, had strengthened its end p. The position of Rome was noticeably stronger vis-a-vis Constantinople than it had been in the days of Justinian I, as is shown by its rejection of the imperial emissary Zacharias and its successful refusal to accept rulings at variance with its own usage. Medieval Christendom with its two great Christian centres of Constantinople and Rome was in process of emerging.

Hussey 1. The long drawn-out dispute in the Eastern Church over the use of icons had deep roots. The early Church avoided figural representation of Christ for various reasons. The second commandment Exodus forbade graven images and there was the strong desire to avoid any kind of idolatry such as was associated with the pagan world.

Then both Old and New Testaments stressed that true worship was not concerned with material sacrifices but should be in spirit and in truth. And so in the catacombs Christ was portrayed by means of symbols. But by the fourth century it was clear that special material objects, such as the Cross and other holy relics, were being widely venerated. Gregory of Nyssa for instance extols the joy of those who touch the very relics of a martyr whom they address with a prayer of intercession just as though he were alive before them.

At the same time the pagan cult of the imperial portrait was accepted and integrated into the normal practice of the Christian Empire. It was understandable that this was carried into the practice of the religious world. By the early fifth century the worship of religious images was being practised in the Church, as St Augustine noticed. It was opposed by Epiphanius of Salamis d.

The authenticity of certain passages in his writings has been questioned by some scholars because of his refutation of a Christological argument which was thought to point to a later date. But there is in fact nothing unusual in such a point of view at this date cf. Eusebius of Caesarea when end p. The late sixth and seventh centuries saw a marked intensification in the use of images. Such practices were not unchallenged, which perhaps accounts for the fact that those giving evidence about their use, pilgrims from the Holy Land for instance, seem to be somewhat on the defensive.

Images now performed miracles, were worshipped and honoured, prayed to, set up as objects of devotion in private houses and workshops, as well as being used on public and official occasions. When in a debate was held in Bithynian Bizna in an attempt to convert Maximus the Confessor to the officially supported monotheletism, the two protagonists were reported at its close to have kissed not 3 only the Gospels and the Cross but also the icons of Christ and the Theotokos.

The image was regarded as being so closely connected with its prototype as to possess supernatural some would say magic efficacy. Hence the role of the icon in times of crisis, as at the Persian siege of Edessa in , though it has been pointed out that in the original account the use of the icon was not so much 4 that of a palladium as a secretly worked miracle. See Kitzinger, op. But in the minds of the Byzantines there was no doubt about the palladian qualities of the icon of St Demetrius of Thessalonica, or of the Mother of God in the various sieges of Constantinople.

Thessalonica was never taken by the Slavs. The City beat off its attackers for nearly five hundred years. The explanation of the growing cult of the icon in the late sixth and seventh centuries and the beginning of its firm rooting in the life of the Orthodox Church has been found in the need for additional security.

It was a time when external forces seemed to be disrupting the life of the Empire, though in the end this time of crisis proved to be one of transformation rather than complete disruption. Justinian I's reconquest in North Africa and in Spain was lost to the Muslims, as were certain of the East Mediterranean provinces; part but by no means all of Italy went to the Lombards; end p. People living in the seventh century could not foresee Byzantium's remarkable recovery, ironically much of it to come under the able leadership of heretical iconoclast emperors.

For them, the enemy was overrunning their countryside and pressing at the gates of their two finest cities, Constantinople and Thessalonica, and it was a life or death struggle in which the supernatural qualities of the holy icon could offer protection. Thus the change in attitude to figural representation is understandable. To the unlettered peasant or soldier the icon simply seemed to afford protection in times of trouble, but the more articulate could go further and explain why it had such charismatic qualities.

At a practical level it had also long been recognized that the picture was a means of educating the illiterate. The sixth-century Hypatius of Ephesus, though not himself taking pleasure in icons, pointed out this use: 'We allow simpler and immature folk to have these as being fitted to their natural development, that they may learn through the eye by means adapted to their comprehension.

I, ch. A fragment of Hypatius, Diverse Questions, bk. Part of the same fragment is cited by Theodore Studites, Ep. II, no. But the icon was more than this because it could bring the beholder into contact with God. As the Pseudo-Dionysius visualized, it could lead the Christian through the various hierarchical stages to the Deity. Bishop Hypatius of Ephesus had also stressed this, 'some will thus be led to spiritual beauty'. Then, in reverse, there was the relation of the icon, not to the beholder, but to its prototype. Since man was created in the image of God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, he had in him something of God, and this was reflected in his portrait, particularly that of the saint.

And how much more of Christ, who, since he became man, could be portrayed. By the late seventh century Christian apologetic on this theme had reached the point of regarding it as a tenet of Orthodox teaching. At the Quinisextum council in Constantinople in canon 82 stated: end p. Though we venerate the old prefiguration and shadows as symbols and announcements of truth given to the Church we prefer the grace and the truth which we have received in fulfilment of the Law.

And so in order that that which is perfect may be made clear to the eyes of all, even in paintings, we decree that in future instead of the ancient Lamb, 'he who taketh away the sin of the world', Christ our God, shall be portrayed on icons in human form. And by means of this we shall understand the depth of the humiliation of the Word of God and think on his life in the flesh and his passion and death for our salvation whence came the redemption of the world. Opposition to figural portrayal came long before the bitter controversy of the eighth century.

Within the Church many had doubts which grew with the spread of superstitious practices associated with icons. From the fourth century onwards various objections were voiced. The Spanish synod of Elvira in the early fourth century had urged caution in the use of icons lest they should be painted on the walls of churches. Doubts had been expressed, for instance by Eusebius of Caesarea and Epiphanius of Cyprus, and by a sect within the Armenian Church the first group-protest the members of which eventually seceded to the heretical Paulicians , but contrary to the condemnation of the sixth-century Severus at the fifth session of Nicaea II there is evidence that the monophysites did use icons.

I am grateful to Henry Chadwick for drawing my attention to this evidence. See also H. Brock 'Iconoclasm and the Monophysites', in Iconoclasm, The opponents of icons in the pre-iconoclastic period usually derived support from the Mosaic prohibition against graven images Exodus and stressed the Christian emphasis on worship in spirit and in truth. Obviously use of material media could, and did, lead to idolatry, and the tenacious survival of pagan and non-Jewish practice is vividly illustrated by the golden bull set up and worshipped by a group of peasant monks in Egypt as late as end p.

But the Christological argument for and against icons was not really developed until the eighth century and then not in the opening stages of the conflict. The opening conflict under Leo III The reasons for the flare-up of the controversy in the eighth century are still disputed and to such an extent that assessments vary from considering it as the most significant event in Byzantine history to regarding it as of almost only peripheral importance.

In examining the causes and course of the struggle interpretations to some extent seem to reflect the individual interests of scholars, the more secularminded historian regarding the movement as part of wider imperial policies while to the Orthodox the fight for icons was so closely related to the basic Christological position as to involve the presentation of an integral part of their belief.

Lossky even went as far as to say that icons were the expression of Orthodoxy as such. Moreover it is difficult to get a fair picture of the iconoclasts partly because their writings were destroyed except in so far as extracts were preserved because refuted in Orthodox councils, and partly because they understandably had a bad press in Orthodox chronicles and histories, though surviving oriental sources have done something to correct the Greek bias.

In attempting to discover why the movement against icons took official form under the eighth-century North Syrian mistakenly called Isaurian Emperors, Leo III and his son Constantine V, scholars have noticed a similar tendency among Muslims whose power was increasing so rapidly at this time. The two religions, Islam and Christianity, were now face to face. To some extent they shared common ground and had common roots and their relations were marked by more than perpetual antagonism, as the fruitful cross-fertilization in the long history of Byzantino-Arab relations was to reveal.

It is therefore necessary to consider contacts, and debts if any, between Byzantium and Islam in initiating the policy of banning the use of icons. Thus he began life in a Jacobite milieu, though he must later have professed himself a supporter of Chalcedon since he held official positions in Byzantium.

Gero, Leo III, 25 ff. Germaniceia was the scene of Byzantino-Arab warfare and it is probable that in his early years Leo may have been open to Muslim influence and he probably spoke Arabic. It has often been claimed that there is a more direct link than this rather general early influence and that when Leo III made his first open move against icons in he was motivated by the example of the Muslim ruler Yazid But in fact very little is known about the Muslim edict against images.

Theophanes makes brief mention of an edict promulgated in the year in which Yazid died that is, between the beginning of the year, 1 September and his death on 27 January , and he then adds 'Most people had not heard of his devilish edict'. He relates that King Abgar of Edessa died c. In this version there is no image. A later account found in the Syriac Doctrine of Addai ca. It went missing in when Crusaders sacked Constantinople, but by then numerous copies had firmly established its iconic type.

The 4th-century Christian Aelius Lampridius produced the earliest known written records of Christian images treated like icons in a pagan or Gnostic context in his Life of Alexander Severus xxix that formed part of the Augustan History. According to Lampridius, the emperor Alexander Severus r. Saint Irenaeus , c. They crown these images, and set them up along with the images of the philosophers of the world that is to say, with the images of Pythagoras, and Plato, and Aristotle, and the rest.

They have also other modes of honouring these images, after the same manner of the Gentiles [pagans]". On the other hand, Irenaeus does not speak critically of icons or portraits in a general sense—only of certain gnostic sectarians' use of icons. Another criticism of image veneration appears in the non-canonical 2nd-century Acts of John generally considered a gnostic work , in which the Apostle John discovers that one of his followers has had a portrait made of him, and is venerating it: And he called him and said: Lycomedes, what do you mean by this matter of the portrait?

Can it be one of thy gods that is painted here? For I see that you are still living in heathen fashion. Later in the passage John says, "But this that you have now done is childish and imperfect: you have drawn a dead likeness of the dead. At least some of the hierarchy of the Christian churches still strictly opposed icons in the early 4th century. At the Spanish non-ecumenical Synod of Elvira c. John Francis Wilson [6] suggests the possibility that this refers to a pagan bronze statue whose true identity had been forgotten; some [ who?

When asked by Constantia Emperor Constantine's sister for an image of Jesus, Eusebius denied the request, replying: "To depict purely the human form of Christ before its transformation, on the other hand, is to break the commandment of God and to fall into pagan error. After the emperor Constantine I extended official toleration of Christianity within the Roman Empire in , huge numbers of pagans became converts. This period of Christianization probably saw the use of Christian images became very widespread among the faithful, though with great differences from pagan habits.

Robin Lane Fox states [8] "By the early fifth century, we know of the ownership of private icons of saints; by c. When Constantine himself r. The Roman Imperial cult of the divinity of the emperor, expressed through the traditional burning of candles and the offering of incense to the emperor's image, was tolerated for a period because it would have been politically dangerous to attempt to suppress it.


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In Philostorgius , an allegedly Arian Christian, charged the Orthodox Christians in Constantinople with idolatry because they still honored the image of the emperor Constantine the Great, the founder of the city, in this way. Dix notes that this occurred more than a century before we find the first reference to a similar honouring of the image of Christ or of His apostles or saints, but that it would seem a natural progression for the image of Christ, the King of Heaven and Earth, to be paid similar veneration as that given to the earthly Roman emperor.

After adoption of Christianity as the only permissible Roman state religion under Theodosius I , Christian art began to change not only in quality and sophistication, but also in nature. This was in no small part due to Christians being free for the first time to express their faith openly without persecution from the state, in addition to the faith spreading to the non-poor segments of society. Paintings of martyrs and their feats began to appear, and early writers commented on their lifelike effect, one of the elements a few Christian writers criticized in pagan art—the ability to imitate life.

The writers mostly criticized pagan works of art for pointing to false gods, thus encouraging idolatry. Statues in the round were avoided as being too close to the principal artistic focus of pagan cult practices, as they have continued to be with some small-scale exceptions throughout the history of Eastern Christianity.

Nilus of Sinai d. Plato of Ankyra appeared to a Christian in a dream. The Saint was recognized because the young man had often seen his portrait. This recognition of a religious apparition from likeness to an image was also a characteristic of pagan pious accounts of appearances of gods to humans, and was a regular topos in hagiography. One critical recipient of a vision from Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki apparently specified that the saint resembled the "more ancient" images of him—presumably the 7th-century mosaics still in Hagios Demetrios.

Another, an African bishop, had been rescued from Arab slavery by a young soldier called Demetrios, who told him to go to his house in Thessaloniki. Having discovered that most young soldiers in the city seemed to be called Demetrios, he gave up and went to the largest church in the city, to find his rescuer on the wall.

During this period the church began to discourage all non-religious human images—the Emperor and donor figures counting as religious. This became largely effective, so that most of the population would only ever see religious images and those of the ruling class. The word icon referred to any and all images, not just religious ones, but there was barely a need for a separate word for these. It is in a context attributed to the 5th century that the first mention of an image of Mary painted from life appears, though earlier paintings on catacomb walls bear resemblance to modern icons of Mary.

The image was specified to have been "painted by the Apostle Luke. Margherita Guarducci relates a tradition that the original icon of Mary attributed to Luke, sent by Eudokia to Pulcheria from Palestine, was a large circular icon only of her head. When the icon arrived in Constantinople it was fitted in as the head into a very large rectangular icon of her holding the Christ child and it is this composite icon that became the one historically known as the Hodegetria.

She further states another tradition that when the last Latin Emperor of Constantinople, Baldwin II , fled Constantinople in he took this original circular portion of the icon with him. This remained in the possession of the Angevin dynasty who had it likewise inserted into a much larger image of Mary and the Christ child, which is presently enshrined above the high altar of the Benedictine Abbey church of Montevergine.

However, Guarducci also states that in an ancient image of Mary [15] at the Church of Santa Francesca Romana was determined to be a very exact, but reverse mirror image of the original circular icon that was made in the 5th century and brought to Rome, where it has remained until the present. Luke the Evangelist and brought to India by St. In the period before and during the Iconoclastic Controversy , stories attributing the creation of icons to the New Testament period greatly increased, with several apostles and even the Virgin herself believed to have acted as the artist or commissioner of images also embroidered in the case of the Virgin.


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  • There was a continuing opposition to images and their misuse within Christianity from very early times. The use of icons was seriously challenged by Byzantine Imperial authority in the 8th century. Though by this time opposition to images was strongly entrenched in Judaism and Islam, attribution of the impetus toward an iconoclastic movement in Eastern Orthodoxy to Muslims or Jews " seems to have been highly exaggerated, both by contemporaries and by modern scholars ". Though significant in the history of religious doctrine, the Byzantine controversy over images is not seen as of primary importance in Byzantine history.

    Under his son Constantine V , a council forbidding image veneration was held at Hieria near Constantinople in The council anathemized all who hold to iconoclasm, i. Then the ban was enforced again by Leo V in And finally icon veneration was decisively restored by Empress Regent Theodora in From then on all Byzantine coins had a religious image or symbol on the reverse , usually an image of Christ for larger denominations, with the head of the Emperor on the obverse, reinforcing the bond of the state and the divine order.

    Such images functioned as powerful relics as well as icons, and their images were naturally seen as especially authoritative as to the true appearance of the subject: naturally and especially because of the reluctance to accept mere human productions as embodying anything of the divine, a commonplace of Christian deprecation of man-made " idols ".

    Like icons believed to be painted directly from the live subject, they therefore acted as important references for other images in the tradition. Beside the developed legend of the mandylion or Image of Edessa , was the tale of the Veil of Veronica , whose very name signifies "true icon" or "true image", the fear of a "false image" remaining strong. Although there are earlier records of their use, no panel icons earlier than the few from the 6th century preserved at the Greek Orthodox Saint Catherine's Monastery in Egypt survive, [24] as the other examples in Rome have all been drastically over-painted.

    The surviving evidence for the earliest depictions of Christ, Mary and saints therefore comes from wall-paintings, mosaics and some carvings. They are broadly similar in style, though often much superior in quality, to the mummy portraits done in wax encaustic and found at Fayyum in Egypt.

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    As we may judge from such items, the first depictions of Jesus were generic rather than portrait images, generally representing him as a beardless young man. It was some time before the earliest examples of the long-haired, bearded face that was later to become standardized as the image of Jesus appeared.

    When they did begin to appear there was still variation. Augustine of Hippo — [26] said that no one knew the appearance of Jesus or that of Mary. However, Augustine was not a resident of the Holy Land and therefore was not familiar with the local populations and their oral traditions. Gradually, paintings of Jesus took on characteristics of portrait images. At this time the manner of depicting Jesus was not yet uniform, and there was some controversy over which of the two most common icons was to be favored.

    The first or "Semitic" form showed Jesus with short and "frizzy" hair; the second showed a bearded Jesus with hair parted in the middle, the manner in which the god Zeus was depicted.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Theodorus Lector remarked [27] that of the two, the one with short and frizzy hair was "more authentic". To support his assertion, he relates a story excerpted by John of Damascus that a pagan commissioned to paint an image of Jesus used the "Zeus" form instead of the "Semitic" form, and that as punishment his hands withered. Though their development was gradual, we can date the full-blown appearance and general ecclesiastical as opposed to simply popular or local acceptance of Christian images as venerated and miracle-working objects to the 6th century, when, as Hans Belting writes, [28] "we first hear of the church's use of religious images.

    However, the earlier references by Eusebius and Irenaeus indicate veneration of images and reported miracles associated with them as early as the 2nd century. What might be shocking to our contemporary eyes may not have been viewed as such by the early Christians.

    Acts reports that "people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. In the icons of Eastern Orthodoxy, and of the Early Medieval West, very little room is made for artistic license.

    Almost everything within the image has a symbolic aspect. Christ, the saints, and the angels all have halos. Angels and often John the Baptist have wings because they are messengers. Figures have consistent facial appearances, hold attributes personal to them, and use a few conventional poses. Colour plays an important role as well. Gold represents the radiance of Heaven; red, divine life. Blue is the color of human life, white is the Uncreated Light of God, only used for resurrection and transfiguration of Christ.

    If you look at icons of Jesus and Mary: Jesus wears red undergarment with a blue outer garment God become Human and Mary wears a blue undergarment with a red overgarment human was granted gifts by God , thus the doctrine of deification is conveyed by icons. Letters are symbols too. Most icons incorporate some calligraphic text naming the person or event depicted. Even this is often presented in a stylized manner.

    In the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition there are reports of particular, Wonderworking icons that exude myrrh fragrant, healing oil , or perform miracles upon petition by believers. When such reports are verified by the Orthodox hierarchy, they are understood as miracles performed by God through the prayers of the saint, rather than being magical properties of the painted wood itself.

    Theologically, all icons are considered to be sacred, and are miraculous by nature, being a means of spiritual communion between the heavenly and earthly realms. However, it is not uncommon for specific icons to be characterised as "miracle-working", meaning that God has chosen to glorify them by working miracles through them. Such icons are often given particular names especially those of the Virgin Mary , and even taken from city to city where believers gather to venerate them and pray before them.

    Islands like that of Tinos are renowned for possessing such "miraculous" icons, and are visited every year by thousands of pilgrims. This is because icon painting is rooted in the theology of the Incarnation Christ being the eikon of God which didn't change, though its subsequent clarification within the Church occurred over the period of the first seven Ecumenical Councils.

    Also, icons served as tools of edification for the illiterate faithful during most of the history of Christendom. Thus, icons are words in painting; they refer to the history of salvation and to its manifestation in concrete persons. In the Orthodox Church "icons have always been understood as a visible gospel, as a testimony to the great things given man by God the incarnate Logos" [33] In the Council of it was stated that "all that is uttered in words written in syllables is also proclaimed in the language of colors". Eastern Orthodox find the first instance of an image or icon in the Bible when God made man in His own image Septuagint Greek eikona , in Genesis — In Exodus, God commanded that the Israelites not make any graven image; but soon afterwards, he commanded that they make graven images of cherubim and other like things, both as statues and woven on tapestries.

    Later, Solomon included still more such imagery when he built the first temple. Eastern Orthodox believe these qualify as icons, in that they were visible images depicting heavenly beings and, in the case of the cherubim, used to indirectly indicate God's presence above the Ark. In the Book of Numbers it is written that God told Moses to make a bronze serpent, Nehushtan , and hold it up, so that anyone looking at the snake would be healed of their snakebites. In John 3, Jesus refers to the same serpent, saying that he must be lifted up in the same way that the serpent was.

    John of Damascus also regarded the brazen serpent as an icon. Further, Jesus Christ himself is called the "image of the invisible God" in Colossians , and is therefore in one sense an icon. As people are also made in God's images, people are also considered to be living icons, and are therefore "censed" along with painted icons during Orthodox prayer services. According to John of Damascus, anyone who tries to destroy icons "is the enemy of Christ, the Holy Mother of God and the saints, and is the defender of the Devil and his demons.

    Basil of Caesarea , in his writing On the Holy Spirit , says: "The honor paid to the image passes to the prototype". He also illustrates the concept by saying, "If I point to a statue of Caesar and ask you 'Who is that? Thus to kiss an icon of Christ, in the Eastern Orthodox view, is to show love towards Christ Jesus himself, not mere wood and paint making up the physical substance of the icon. Worship of the icon as somehow entirely separate from its prototype is expressly forbidden by the Seventh Ecumenical Council.

    Icons are often illuminated with a candle or jar of oil with a wick. Beeswax for candles and olive oil for oil lamps are preferred because they burn very cleanly, although other materials are sometimes used. The illumination of religious images with lamps or candles is an ancient practice pre-dating Christianity.

    Of the icon painting tradition that developed in Byzantium, with Constantinople as the chief city, we have only a few icons from the 11th century and none preceding them, in part because of the Iconoclastic reforms during which many were destroyed or lost, and also because of plundering by the Republic of Venice in during the Fourth Crusade , and finally the Fall of Constantinople in It was only in the Comnenian period — that the cult of the icon became widespread in the Byzantine world, partly on account of the dearth of richer materials such as mosaics, ivory , and vitreous enamels , but also because an iconostasis a special screen for icons was introduced then in ecclesiastical practice.

    The style of the time was severe, hieratic and distant. In the late Comnenian period this severity softened, and emotion, formerly avoided, entered icon painting. Major monuments for this change include the murals at Daphni Monastery c. Panteleimon near Skopje The Theotokos of Vladimir c.

    The tendency toward emotionalism in icons continued in the Paleologan period , which began in