Iconography in the context of Incarnation


Vigen Guroian, professor of theology and ethics at Loyola College in Baltimore, writing in The Clarion Review:

“What the word says, the image shows silently; what we have heard, we have seen.” That is how the Seventh Great Ecumenical Council, held at Constantinople in 787, summarized its defense of the use of icons in Christian worship. What the council confessed to have heard from scripture and to believe, is that God became man in Jesus Christ. According to the Gospel of John “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:13–14). Through an act of unfathomable kenosis, the infinite had become finite, the uncircumscribable was circumscribed in a human being, and the invisible was made visible. In so far as the divine Word, the Only Begotten Son of the Father, had become flesh and took the body of a man, he and the saints could be painted on wood or represented in mosaic or mural art. The Old Testament prohibition against images had been lifted by God himself.

From The Iconographic Fiction and Christian Humanism of Flannery O’Connor

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