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Author Topic: God the Father in Iconography  (Read 30823 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #45 on: May 13, 2008, 12:57:02 AM »

Here's another example of the Ancient of Days icon recently uncovered.  Last year in Shanghai, China, the municipal bureau of housing, land and resources authorized the restoration of the icon frescoes that had been covered by plaster since the Cultural Revolution.   This is the same cathedral dedicated to the Our Lady the Surety of Sinners icon built under the supervision of St John Maximovitch, where he held services under these very icons.  The restoration was completed in September 2007.  The icon was used in the dome where we typically see the Pantocrater icon.



Further reading and additional images: http://orthodox.cn/contemporary/shanghai/cathedral_en.htm

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« Reply #46 on: May 13, 2008, 01:18:00 AM »

Only the sapphire "floor" of the icon is accurate based on what Moses saw.

Unless the figure was meant to be Enoch who was translated into Heaven and never experienced death because he "walked with God."

I would become nauseous if I started thinking of the figure in the icon as God.   Shocked
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« Reply #47 on: May 13, 2008, 01:35:48 AM »

Why is God wearing a pink shirt? Was he Metro before the ages?
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« Reply #48 on: May 13, 2008, 01:38:05 AM »

This image is simply a heretical version borrowed from the Greek tradition. In Russian its known as the "Paternity" but in the greek Church the earliest version of this icon is Christ as the Ancient of Days with The infant Christ (sometimes a mature Christ on the lap). It represents the 'ages of Christ' and is taken from the Service of the Presentation to the Temple, where the hymn reads "The Ancient of Days becomes a Child for us". The canonical greek icon can be seen in the Panagia Koumbelidiki Church in Kastoria Greece and dates to the 13th century.

The earliest version of the canonical greek icon is in a minature from the 11th century greek Lectionary (codex 587) of the Dionysiou Monastery on Athos.

Of course the image in the chinese church can be interpreted to be Christ as the Ancient of Days, without a nimbus it can go wither way, regardless its way too western for me.
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« Reply #49 on: May 13, 2008, 01:55:32 AM »

The "painting" brings to mind the Pregnant Man since the "painting" is depicted in the same manner as the Platytera (the infant Christ in the womb of this "man").

EDIT - I drew an analogy between the "painting" and recent news reports of transgendered pregnancy since the painting infers the possibility of a transgendered divine entity which doesn't exist in the Orthodox faith.

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« Reply #50 on: May 13, 2008, 04:07:02 AM »

Thomas,
My point was that the image of the Ancient of Days on the Kursk Root Icon dates to the 13th century. This makes the "17th/18th century Western influence" theory a bit problematic.

I am new to this forum, and I realise I am replying to a rather old post, but I must make this comment: The Kursk-Root icon as we now know it is a composite of images. The central panel (of the Mother of God of the Sign) dates from the 13thC, the figures of the prophets and God the Father surrounding the Mother of God are from the 17th or 18thC, and were grafted on to the original central panel.

As for the mural uncovered in Shanghai, this is simply a copy of the painting (I cannot call that image an icon) in the cupola at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow. Sadly, the rebuilt Cathedral has been decorated with paintings in the same form as the original 19thC building. Not only is there an unmistakeably uncanonical, overblown "Trinity" complete with Gerber baby Jesus, but an "icon" of St Juliana Olshanskaya with her right hand raised, her fingers arranged in a clerical blessing.

It is understandable that such mistakes were made in earlier centuries, where western influence had almost completely swamped traditional iconography and church music in every Orthodox country. But not nowadays. Rebuild the cathedral, by all means, as a gesture of the restoration of Orthodoxy to its rightful place after the fall of communism, particularly as this cathedral was destroyed in 1931 on the personal order of Josef Stalin, and its destruction was officially documented in print and on film. Rebuild the cathedral as it once was. But it grieves me that a golden opportunity was lost to paint true icons in the new cathedral, icons true to the theology and doctrines of Orthodoxy, icons full of quiet dignity and power, expressing the sublime things of God. Instead, we have a lush, baroque extravaganza, overblown and preposterous. So sad. So very sad.
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« Reply #51 on: May 13, 2008, 10:54:00 AM »

Welcome LBK!
Thanks for the information, and don't worry about bringing up old threads- this is much more productive and helpful than starting a new one!
If you click on the tab "Ancient of Days" at the bottom of this thread, you will find a list of threads about this topic.

One of the things I often say is that the only canon against depictions of God the Father in iconography is the one from the Great Synod of Moscow, so really, it's not binding on the whole Church.
Another point is that according to Orthodox teaching, Icons depict hypostasis, not nature. So an Icon of God the Father is not depicting the Divine Nature, but rather, the Hypostasis of the Father as the Ancient of Days. Icons are likenesses with respect to the hypostasis of the Prototype and need not be pictorially accurate. For example, the Forerunner St. John the Baptist is often depicted with wings in Icons, even though he did not actually have wings.
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« Reply #52 on: May 13, 2008, 11:31:38 AM »

ozgeorge,
In your post in this thread back in 2006 you mentioned that an icon can depict a person twice if it is showing two different events in time.  When I look at this icon, informed by my orthodox faith, I see that it is teaching that Christ is eternally begotten of the Father.  Of course communicating the pre-incarnate Christ requires symbology, so Christ is depicted as an ancient man.   To my mind it is a suggestion that Christ is eternal, and even before He is incarnate, He is person.  Second, by depicting Christ as a youth, sitting on the fabric, it clearly suggests the incarnation.  The fabric represents creation, and by sitting on top of it as a youth, it affirms that Christ truly entered into our created world as one of us.  The dove is the Holy Spirit, by which He was incarnate and made man.  I have never seen this icon before last night.  Would you consider this a heretical icon if it is understood this way as an affirmation of Christ being both eternal and incarnate?

I find it ironic that so many prefer the actions of Chairman Mao and Stalin over the wisdom of the holy Bishop John Maximovitch!  We can only speculate why St John decided to put this image in the dome.  Being acquainted with Taoist painting, I wonder if St John chose an icon that depicts Christ as an old man because he knew that immortality in traditional Chinese paintings is communicated as elderly human figures.
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« Reply #53 on: May 13, 2008, 12:43:29 PM »

When I look at this icon, informed by my orthodox faith, I see ....
Which Icon are you referring to?
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« Reply #54 on: May 13, 2008, 01:18:01 PM »

Which Icon are you referring to?
The frescoe in the dome in Shanghai and, apparently, the Moscow original (which I havent seen). 
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« Reply #55 on: May 13, 2008, 03:20:19 PM »

Perhaps this a a dumb and iconographically anachronistic question, but isn't the Son the image of the Father?  How do these other representations square with that?

Maybe Rublev's Visitation icon is hard to fit within that understanding, but the three figures are of angels, as they are represented in icons.

ozgeorge, I'm having a hard time pinning down where your points fit within what little I know of the Orthodox iconographical tradition.  This is probably because of my ignorance.  I'll have to go back and read some of those threads.
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« Reply #56 on: May 13, 2008, 03:31:29 PM »

The frescoe in the dome in Shanghai and, apparently, the Moscow original (which I havent seen). 
I don't actually think this Icon can be interpreted as being Christ as the Ancient of Days and the Incarnate Christ, because the infant in the Icon is holding a scroll which says "ΛΟΓΟΣ" ("LOGOS") which clearly identifies Him as the Logos.
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« Reply #57 on: May 13, 2008, 11:30:13 PM »

I am new to this forum,
Welcome, LBK, and well met. Smiley  May you continue to grace our forum with your posts.

Quote
and I realise I am replying to a rather old post,
No need to worry about that.  As ozgeorge said, this is a great way to tie current thoughts to what has been said before.
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« Reply #58 on: May 15, 2008, 02:25:31 AM »

Welcome LBK!
One of the things I often say is that the only canon against depictions of God the Father in iconography is the one from the Great Synod of Moscow, so really, it's not binding on the whole Church.

On the contrary, ozgeorge. Consider these statements of St John of Damascus (8thC), in his treatise On the Holy Images:

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 worshipping 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...


and:

Do not represent the Divinity; do not give Him a false form, you blind men, because the Divinity cannot be captured by your eyes. It is impenetrable to your gaze....

St John of Damascus was perhaps the single most important influence in the consideration of the propriety of icons at the Seventh Ecumenical Council.

Returning to your above quote: The Orthodox Church does not take a rigid, juridical approach to its canons. The absence of a written canon does not automatically mean that something is permitted or not permitted. In the absence of written, specific canons, we need look at the whole Tradition of the Church, in its fullness (liturgical, iconographic, dogmatic, historic) to find the answer. For example, is it proper to paint icons of St Joseph the Betrothed holding the infant Christ? (such images, derived from Roman Catholic religious art, have appeared in recent times). There are, of course, no canons at all which can give an answer to this. So what is an iconographer to do? He looks at the historical record (what is written about the life of St Joseph, and what icons exist in history of him?), the patristic record (what do the Fathers of the Church have to say about Joseph?) and, most importantly, to the liturgical material written for St Joseph. This last element is most important, as the liturgical tradition represents the consensus patrum of the Church. It is what the whole Orthodox Church proclaims and teaches.

With regard to the Great Council of Moscow being a "local" council, and therefore not binding on the Church as a whole, it is a false argument indeed to ascribe a lesser importance or authority to local councils (as opposed to the Ecumenical Councils) such as it, or the Stoglav Council, or of other local councils held in various places, including Constantinople and other cities, which ruled on the canonicity of many images. A local council has the same force of authority as an ecumenical council, if the decisions and canons of such a council conform to the "mind" of the Orthodox Church as a whole. During the pre-schism period, the canons of local councils were ratified by a subsequent ecumenical council. However, even in the post-schism period, there are any number of local councils whose rulings have been validated by the Orthodox Church, as well as other local councils which have been rejected as invalid, such as the Council of Lyons (1274), of Ferrara-Florence (1438-1443), and others. To my knowledge, the Stoglav council, and other local councils which dealt with iconographic matters, have never been repudiated by any other local Orthodox Church, or by the Church as a whole. Therefore, their rulings continue to stand. 
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« Reply #59 on: May 15, 2008, 03:18:40 AM »

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 worshipping the matter through which my salvation has been effected
St. John Damascene says:
"I make an image of the God who can be seen."

Our Lord says:
"If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him." (John 14:7)
and:
"Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?" (John 14:9)


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...


and:

Do not represent the Divinity; do not give Him a false form, you blind men, because the Divinity cannot be captured by your eyes. It is impenetrable to your gaze....
Which is exactly what I said here:
Another point is that according to Orthodox teaching, Icons depict hypostasis, not nature. So an Icon of God the Father is not depicting the Divine Nature, but rather, the Hypostasis of the Father as the Ancient of Days. Icons are likenesses with respect to the hypostasis of the Prototype and need not be pictorially accurate. For example, the Forerunner St. John the Baptist is often depicted with wings in Icons, even though he did not actually have wings.
This is what St. John Damascene is saying. We cannot represent the Divine Nature in Icons, we can only represent hypostases.

Returning to your above quote: The Orthodox Church does not take a rigid, juridical approach to its canons.
I know! which is why we have Icons of the "New Testament Trinity" even in Russian Churches now.

A local council has the same force of authority as an ecumenical council, if the decisions and canons of such a council conform to the "mind" of the Orthodox Church as a whole.
Yep, and what I'm saying is that the Great Synod of Moscow may not have conformed to the mind of the Church.

Therefore, their rulings continue to stand. 
Well, actually, the anathema on the Old Believers has been lifted by the Moscow Patriarchate in 1971 and by ROCOR in 1974.
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« Reply #60 on: May 15, 2008, 04:51:11 AM »

Quote
Well, actually, the anathema on the Old Believers has been lifted by the Moscow Patriarchate in 1971 and by ROCOR in 1974.

This statement is entirely irrelevant to the matter being discussed on this thread, which is the iconographic portrayal of God the Father.

Quote
Our Lord says:
"If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him." (John 14:7)
and:
"Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?" (John 14:9)

The Orthodox interpretation is quite straightforward: Christ is saying that He is God, and from God, and of God, in the same way that St John the Evangelist opens his Gospel with "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ..."

You write:

Quote
Yep, and what I'm saying is that the Great Synod of Moscow may not have conformed to the mind of the Church.

I wrote that the "mind of the Church", its consensus patrum, is expressed in its liturgical texts. The liturgical texts of the Church are the essence, the heart, the distillation of what the entire Church teaches and proclaims, irrespective of geography, local "culture", or liturgical language used. Iconography, similarly, must conform to the liturgical, doctrinal, and scriptural traditions of the Church. It is the visual equivalent of the written word of the liturgical tradition.

There must be complete harmony between the written and the visual. Icons show the things of God which have been revealed to us. Where in any liturgical text does it say that God the Father has manifested Himself as a bearded old man? Is there a verse from a feast of the Church which says this, or a patristic tract? Is there a Triadikon/Troitsen which describes, or even hints at this?

As for the "Ancient of Days" as representing God the Father, the short answer to that is: no, He represents God the Son, as others on this thread have correctly stated.

Quote
St. John Damascene says:
"I make an image of the God who can be seen."

Precisely. Is it necessary to state that St John speaks of God the Son? God the Son, the Word of God, was as invisible, indescribable and incomprehensible as God the Father, until His incarnation. The words of the kontakion for the Sunday of Orthodoxy are no accident:

No one could describe the Word of the Father; but when He took flesh from you, O Mother of God, He accepted to be described, and restored the fallen image to its former beauty. We confess and proclaim our salvation in word and images.












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« Reply #61 on: May 15, 2008, 06:51:02 AM »

This statement is entirely irrelevant to the matter being discussed on this thread, which is the iconographic portrayal of God the Father.
But it is not irrelevant to your claim that "their rulings continue to stand" since one of their rulings has been rescinded by the Russian Church itself.

The Orthodox interpretation is quite straightforward: Christ is saying that He is God, and from God, and of God, in the same way that St John the Evangelist opens his Gospel with "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ..."
How do you know this is the "Orthodox interpretation" of these Gospel passages?

I wrote that the "mind of the Church", its consensus patrum, is expressed in its liturgical texts. The liturgical texts of the Church are the essence, the heart, the distillation of what the entire Church teaches and proclaims, irrespective of geography, local "culture", or liturgical language used. Iconography, similarly, must conform to the liturgical, doctrinal, and scriptural traditions of the Church. It is the visual equivalent of the written word of the liturgical tradition.

There must be complete harmony between the written and the visual. Icons show the things of God which have been revealed to us. Where in any liturgical text does it say that God the Father has manifested Himself as a bearded old man? Is there a verse from a feast of the Church which says this, or a patristic tract? Is there a Triadikon/Troitsen which describes, or even hints at this?
Which liturgical text says that we cannot depict God the Father as the Ancient of Days?

As for the "Ancient of Days" as representing God the Father, the short answer to that is: no, He represents God the Son, as others on this thread have correctly stated.
This may be the case in the Apocalypse, but if this is the case in the Book of Daniel, then who is the "Son of Man" who ascends to Heaven and stands before the Ancient of Days and receives Dominion from Him (Daniel 7:13-14)? Does Christ give Himself Dominion or does the Father Who begot Him?













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« Reply #62 on: May 15, 2008, 05:42:53 PM »


God the Father in iconography can be historically traced back to Roman Catholicism.
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« Reply #63 on: May 15, 2008, 10:13:18 PM »

God the Father in iconography can be historically traced back to Roman Catholicism.

Satan actually created Roman Catholicism! Euthymios for such an intelligent linguist it's interesting how you never have probable sources for these outrageous claims that you make.
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« Reply #64 on: May 15, 2008, 10:26:36 PM »

Satan actually created Roman Catholicism!
While the devil is responsible for divisions and discord between people, he cannot "create" anything.
We have some very good people on this forum who are Roman Catholics, how do you think they might feel if they hear you say that what they believe is "created by Satan"?
As soon as we lose our temper and start flinging insults against people, we might as well throw in the towel, because we've lost the argument. Please refrain from insulting other people's faiths.


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« Reply #65 on: May 15, 2008, 10:35:32 PM »

While the devil is responsible for divisions and discord between people, he cannot "create" anything.
We have some very good people on this forum who are Roman Catholics, how do you think they might feel if they hear you say that what they believe is "created by Satan"?
As soon as we lose our temper and start flinging insults against people, we might as well throw in the towel, because we've lost the argument. Please refrain from insulting other people's faiths.


George forgive me. I made this statement in sarcasm trying to show a link between Euthymios' statement that "God the Father in iconography can be historically traced back to Roman Catholicism." and how ludicrous the statement is and trying to show its thoughtlessness. I truly apologize to my Catholic brothers for any hurt that I may have caused.
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« Reply #66 on: May 15, 2008, 10:54:08 PM »

I truly apologize to my Catholic brothers for any hurt that I may have caused.
Thank you for your great example of how a Christian should behave.
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« Reply #67 on: May 15, 2008, 11:01:59 PM »

I don't actually think this Icon can be interpreted as being Christ as the Ancient of Days and the Incarnate Christ, because the infant in the Icon is holding a scroll which says "ΛΟΓΟΣ" ("LOGOS") which clearly identifies Him as the Logos.
I actually find it fitting that Christ as Ancient of days has no human language identifier, whereas the Incarnate Christ does.
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« Reply #68 on: May 15, 2008, 11:43:15 PM »

Now now, its probably true that Euthymios said this out of spite, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. The Orthodox Council of Constantinople has also condemned depictions of God the Father in 1776, "We synodically declare that the so-called icon of the Holy Trinity, a recent invention, is alien and unacceptable to the Apostolic and Catholic Orthodox Church. It was transmitted to the Orthodox Church from the Latins".

The veneration of icons is based on the theology of protoypes. That the veneration given to the icon is passed onto the prototype. But only that which is created and has some sort of materiality of its own has a protoype. St. John of Damascus makes this clear on his Second Homily on the Divine Images:
"If we were to attempt to make an image of the invisible God, we would indeed be sinning, because it is impossible for the bodiless, formless, invisible, and uncircumscribed God to be painted.

John of Damascus is adamant about this in his First Homily on Dvivine Images (ch8) "How does one paint the invisible? When you behold the bodiless One, becoming a man for you...and he has the properties of a body, then you may paint his ineffable condescension, His birth from a Virgin."

God the Father and the Trinity have no prototype thus they cannot be depicted or venerated in picture form. Hence the icon of the OT Trinity of the three angels is only a type of the Trinity. When one venerates that icon the honor does not pass onto the Trinity but instead the honor passes onto the historical event which it depicts- which is Abraham's Hospitality towards the three angels mentioned in Gen 18.1-5.

That God the Father and the Trinity are uncircumscribable is taught in the acts of the 7th Ecumenical Council:

"The unbuilt up, individivisible, incomprehensible and NON-CIRCUMSCRIBED Trinity, He wholly and alone is to be worshipped and adored...... These honorable and venerable images, as has been said, we honor and salute and reverently venerate, to wit the image of the incarnation of our Great God and Savior  Jesus Christ and our Spotless Lady the all-holy Mother of God from whom He pleased to take flesh and to save and rescue us from all impious idolatry. Also the images of the holy and incorporeal Angels who as men appeared to the just. Likewise also the figures and effigies of the divine and all-lauded Apostles, also of the God-speaking prophets, and the struggling martyrs and holy men. So that through their representations we may be lead back in memory and recollection to the prototype, and have a share in the holiness of some of them." ( SESSION 4, 7TH ECUMENICAL COUNCIL)

Any argument that Daniel 7 sanctions the depictability of God the Father has the burden of proving that such an icon has ever existed. There has never been an icon depicting Daniels vision. Those in favor of depicting the Father have attempted to persuade those not versed in Iconography, that the Trinity painting, of an old white bearded man and Christ seated next to him with a dove in the middle is the vision found in Daniel !. Unfortunately iconographers refer to this as the New Testament Trinity, because it has nothing to do with the old testament and instead is a corruption of the white bearded Christ described in Rev 1.13-14 which some iconographers have confused as the Father.
In fact outside of the NT, the white bearded Christ is first depicted in another important early Christian writing. A writing which maybe the most important historical account of a martyrdom in all of Christianity and this is the Passion of St Perpetua in approx 205 a.d. Where a ladder leading up to a heavenly garden, where Perpetua sees the shepherd (Christ) milking his sheep, and the hair on his head is white as snow.

Those Fathers that interpreted Daniel 7 to be God the Father is simply the lingering effects of the Church before Revelations was recieved into the Canon. The Apocalypse of St John was not accepted until after 500 a.d.. But once it was accepted along with the influence of the martrology of Perpetua, the Church agreed that the Ancient of Days is Christ. This is revealed in the Festal Menaion of the Service of the Presenation of Christ to the Temple, and of the most ancient canonical icons of the Ancient of Days as Christ.

Here are two of the earliest icons of Christ as the Ancient of Days and both predate any God the Father image:

http://all-photo.ru/icon/index.en.html?kk=8e56770132&img=28405&big=on


http://all-photo.ru/icon/index.en.html?kk=8e56770132&img=18240&big=on
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« Reply #69 on: May 16, 2008, 12:26:17 AM »

^The icons look like the depictions of Melchizedek.
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« Reply #70 on: May 16, 2008, 12:44:49 AM »

^The icons look like the depictions of Melchizedek.

Perhaps not surprising, that Melchizedek is a type for Christ. Melchizedek is described as King of Peace (heb 7.2) and Christ as the Prince of Peace in (Isaiah. 9). "And without father and without mother without descent having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God abideth a priest continually (Heb7.3)". Isnt Heb 7.3 describing a type of the Ancient of Days by saying he neither has beginning of days nor end of life of whom is Christ?
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« Reply #71 on: May 16, 2008, 02:49:05 AM »

But it is not irrelevant to your claim that "their rulings continue to stand" since one of their rulings has been rescinded by the Russian Church itself.

Of course it is irrelevant, ozgeorge. A child can see that. The revocations you speak of are not related to the iconography of God the Father, but to the status of the Old Believers in the eyes of the Russian Church.

Quote
How do you know this is the "Orthodox interpretation" of these Gospel passages?

I am an Orthodox Christian, ozgeorge, and I keep my eyes and ears open during church services. I have yet to be told by any Orthodox priest or bishop that this interpretation is incorrect.

Quote
Which liturgical text says that we cannot depict God the Father as the Ancient of Days?

Here is some liturgical material referring to the Ancient of Days, from the Vigil service of the Meeting of the Lord. Other verses I am quoting refer to OT prophecies, which have been frequently, but mistakenly, interpreted as referring to God the Father:

From Vespers, at the Litia:

The Ancient of Days, who also gave the Law to Moses on Sinai, today appears as a babe. And according to the Law, as Maker of the Law, fulfilling the Law, He is brought to the temple and given to the Elder. The righteous Symeon, having received Him and seen the accomplishment of the decrees completed, cried out with joy: My eyes have seen the Mystery hidden from eternity, made manifest in these last times: a light that dispels the dark folly of the unbelieving nations and the glory of the newly chosen Israel. Therefore, release Your servant from the bonds of this flesh for the wondrous life that is ageless and unceasing, You who grant the world Your great mercy.

Today He who of old gave the Law to Moses on Sinai bows to the ordinances of the Law, having become for us like us in His compassion. Now God, who is pure, having opened a pure womb as a holy Child, as God is being offered to Himself, freeing us from the curse of the Law and enlightening our souls.

Today Symeon receives in his embrace the Lord of glory, whom Moses saw of old in darkness giving him the Tablets of the Law on Sinai. This is He who speaks in the Prophets and is the Maker of the Law. This is He whom David proclaimed, He who is fearful to all, He who has great and rich mercy.

The Ancient of Days, becoming an infant in the flesh, is being brought to the Temple by a Virgin Mother, as He fulfils the ordinance of His own Law. Symeon received Him and said: Now let Your servant depart in peace according to Your word. For my eyes, O Lord, have seen Your salvation.’


At Matins, Sessional Hymn, following the Polyeleos:

The Ancient of Days becomes an infant for my sake. God, who is most pure, shares in purifications that He may confirm my flesh, which He took from a Virgin. And Symeon, initiated into the mystery, acknowledged Him as God who had appeared in the flesh and greeted him as Life. As an old man, with joy he cried, ‘Release me, for I have seen You, the Life of all.’

Canon, ode 5:

When Isaiah in a figure saw God on an exalted throne, escorted by Angels of glory, he cried: Woe is me!, for I have seen beforehand God in a body, Lord of the light that knows no evening and Lord of peace.

When the godly Elder saw the Word held in the hands of His Mother, he understood that this was the glory revealed of old to the Prophet. He cried out: Hail, holy Lady, for, like a throne, you hold God, Lord of the light that knows no evening and Lord of peace.


 
Quote
This may be the case in the Apocalypse, but if this is the case in the Book of Daniel, then who is the "Son of Man" who ascends to Heaven and stands before the Ancient of Days and receives Dominion from Him (Daniel 7:13-14)? Does Christ give Himself Dominion or does the Father Who begot Him?

The same wording is in Daniel, as is in Revelation. The dominion is given to His holy ones, described in verse 13 as "like the son of man". Verse 18: But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.’ If you continue reading Dan. 7, you will find that the Ancient of Days sits in judgement, and rules in favour of His holy ones.  This is a prefiguration of the Second Coming of Christ, the Righteous Judge.

Christ is constantly referred to in this way in prayers, liturgically, and iconographically. During the Litany of Supplication at the Divine Liturgy, and at Vespers and Matins, we hear the petition: That the end of our lives may be Christian, painless, blameless and peaceful, and for a good defence before the dread judgement-seat of Christ, let us ask of the Lord. Icons of the Archangel Michael frequently show him holding a translucent round disc, in which are written the Greek letters Χ Δ Κ. This is the acronym for Khristos Dikaios Kritis (Christ the Righteous Judge).

Returning to Christ being the image and likeness of the Father, and the fallacy of ascribing human features to God the Father, in the light of John's Gospel you quoted earlier:

From St John of Damascus, On the Holy Images:

Images are of various kinds. First, there is the natural image. In everything the natural conception must be the first, then we come to institution according to imitation. The Son is the first natural and unchangeable image of the invisible God, the Father, showing the Father in Himself. "For no man has seen God." (Jn. 1.18) Again, "Not that any one has seen the Father." (Jn. 6.46) The apostle says that the Son is the image of the Father: "Who is the image of the invisible God," (Col. 1.15) and to the Hebrews, "Who being the brightness of His glory, and the figure of His substance." (Heb. 1.3) In the Gospel of St John we find that He does show the Father in Himself. When Philip said to Him, "Show us the Father and it is enough for us," [94] our Lord replied, "Have I been so long with you and have you not known Me, Philip? He who sees Me, sees the Father." (Jn. 14.8-9) For the Son is the natural image of the Father, unchangeable, in everything like to the Father, except that He is begotten, and that He is not the Father. The Father begets, being unbegotten. The Son is begotten, and is not the Father, and the Holy Spirit is the image of the Son. For no one can say the Lord Jesus, except in the Holy Spirit. (I Cor. 12.3) Through the Holy Spirit we know Christ, the Son of God and God, and in the Son we look upon the Father. For in things that are conceived by nature, language is the interpreter, and spirit is the interpreter of language. The Holy Spirit is the perfect and unchangeable image of the Son, differing only in His procession. The Son is begotten, but does not proceed. And the son of any father is his natural image. Thus, the natural is the first kind of image.
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« Reply #72 on: May 16, 2008, 01:15:32 PM »

Of course it is irrelevant, ozgeorge. A child can see that. The revocations you speak of are not related to the iconography of God the Father, but to the status of the Old Believers in the eyes of the Russian Church.
LBK,

Whether you're right or wrong, insulting the person with whom you are debating by insinuating that his intelligence is less than that of a child is not a good way to persuade your opponent or to earn his respect.

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I am an Orthodox Christian, ozgeorge, and I keep my eyes and ears open during church services. I have yet to be told by any Orthodox priest or bishop that this interpretation is incorrect.
ozgeorge asked you how you know your interpretation is the [definitive] "Orthodox interpretation."  There's a difference between your interpretation simply not being declared incorrect and actually being THE [unique] Orthodox norm by which all other interpretations are judged.  The standard you've put forward is in reality a much lower standard of provability than the latter that ozgeorge implied in his inquiry.
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« Reply #73 on: May 16, 2008, 04:08:39 PM »

While I agree that the tone taken against ozgeorge was uncalled for, I do have to salute LBK for the following:

Here is some liturgical material referring to the Ancient of Days, from the Vigil service of the Meeting of the Lord. Other verses I am quoting refer to OT prophecies, which have been frequently, but mistakenly, interpreted as referring to God the Father...

ozgeorge, I know we PMed about this a couple of years ago, but permit me to "join the [public] chorus:

Another point is that according to Orthodox teaching, Icons depict hypostasis, not nature. So an Icon of God the Father is not depicting the Divine Nature, but rather, the Hypostasis of the Father as the Ancient of Days.

This is what St. John Damascene is saying. We cannot represent the Divine Nature in Icons, we can only represent hypostases.

Aside from the Ancient of Days being liturgically and iconographically identified specifically with the incarnate LOGOS, there's another question regarding your stance which I haven't ever heard you address (perhaps I'm just negligent, though -- if so, forgive me).  The specific contradistinction St. John of Damascus draws between depicting "the incorporeal and uncircumscribed [Who] was not depicted at all" and depicting the One Who "has appeared in the flesh and lived among men" seems to run right over your distinction between inacurrately depicting the Father's hypostasis and attempting to depict the divine Nature.  It's as if St. John says explicitly that depictions of the Father are right out, as He, in His Person, has not been circumscribed in the flesh and therefore cannot be depicted.  In contrast, however, St. John makes an image only of that divine Person Whom he can see, Who has been circumscribed in flesh.
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« Reply #74 on: May 16, 2008, 04:37:47 PM »

Aside from the Ancient of Days being liturgically and iconographically identified specifically with the incarnate LOGOS, there's another question regarding your stance which I haven't ever heard you address (perhaps I'm just negligent, though -- if so, forgive me).  The specific contradistinction St. John of Damascus draws between depicting "the incorporeal and uncircumscribed [Who] was not depicted at all" and depicting the One Who "has appeared in the flesh and lived among men" seems to run right over your distinction between inacurrately depicting the Father's hypostasis and attempting to depict the divine Nature.  It's as if St. John says explicitly that depictions of the Father are right out, as He, in His Person, has not been circumscribed in the flesh and therefore cannot be depicted.  In contrast, however, St. John makes an image only of that divine Person Whom he can see, Who has been circumscribed in flesh.
I have argued that Christ is the Icon of the Father and has revealed Him to us.
But an image of the Father cannot be made apart from the Incarnation. Daniel may have seen a vision, but it was the Incarnate Christ Who revealed the Father to us.
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« Reply #75 on: May 16, 2008, 09:46:04 PM »

My thoughts:

In these modern times, embracing religious pluralism is the “norm” in any “politically-correct” discussion.  There are so many versions of “god” out there, and yet the TRINITY remains wholly unique and distinct among all other concepts of the divinity. 

It is for this reason I have always cherished icons that depict all Three Persons of the Holy Trinity.  Granted, I’m not too fond of extremely western/Renaissance style icons.  However, I have seen several old-style/non-western Greek, Coptic, Ethiopian, Romanian, Macedonian, and I’m fairly certain even Russian icons of all Three Persons. 

In an age that proclaims all religions have an equally legit/correct view of God, a single icon of the Holy Trinity can bring the viewer to an immediate awareness of Christianity’s completely unique view/understanding of God.
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« Reply #76 on: May 20, 2008, 01:09:56 AM »

referring to the Ancient of Days, from the Vigil service of the Meeting of the Lord. Other verses I am quoting refer to OT prophecies, which have been frequently, but mistakenly, interpreted as referring to God the Father father is his natural image. Thus, the natural is the first kind of image.

The Seventh Ecumenical Council:

"Eternal be the memory of those who know and accept
and believe the visions of the prophets as the Divinity
Himself shaped and impressed them, whatever the chorus
of the prophets saw and narrated, and who hold to the written
and unwritten tradition of the Apostles which was passed on
to the Fathers, and on account of this make icons of the Holy
things and honour them."

"Anathema to those who do not accept the visions of the prophets
and who reject the iconographies which have been seen by them
(O wonder!) even before the Incarnation of the Word, but either
speak empty words about having seen the unattainable and unseen
Essence, or on the one hand pay heed to those who have seen these
appearances of icons, types and forms of the truth, while on the other
hand they cannot bear to have icons made of the Word become man
and His sufferings on our behalf."


St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite, in his prolegomena to the Seventh Ecumenical
Council, sums up the Council's decrees on this subject as follows:

"The present Council, in the letter which it sent to the Church
of Alexandria, on the one hand blesses those who know and
accept, and therefore make icons of and honour, the visions
and theophanies of the Prophets, as God Himself shaped and
impressed them on their minds. And on the other hand it
anathematizes those who do not accept the iconographies
of such visions before the incarnation of God the Word.
It follows that the Beginningless Father must be represented
in icons as He appeared to the Prophet Daniel, as the Ancient of Days."


NB: "It follows that the Beginningless Father must be represented in icons
as He appeared to the Prophet Daniel, as the Ancient of Days."


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« Reply #77 on: May 20, 2008, 03:39:56 AM »

The Seventh Ecumenical Council:

"Eternal be the memory of those who know and accept
and believe the visions of the prophets as the Divinity
Himself shaped and impressed them, whatever the chorus
of the prophets saw and narrated, and who hold to the written
and unwritten tradition of the Apostles which was passed on
to the Fathers, and on account of this make icons of the Holy
things and honour them."

"Anathema to those who do not accept the visions of the prophets
and who reject the iconographies which have been seen by them
(O wonder!) even before the Incarnation of the Word, but either
speak empty words about having seen the unattainable and unseen
Essence, or on the one hand pay heed to those who have seen these
appearances of icons, types and forms of the truth, while on the other
hand they cannot bear to have icons made of the Word become man
and His sufferings on our behalf."


St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite, in his prolegomena to the Seventh Ecumenical
Council, sums up the Council's decrees on this subject as follows:

"The present Council, in the letter which it sent to the Church
of Alexandria, on the one hand blesses those who know and
accept, and therefore make icons of and honour, the visions
and theophanies of the Prophets, as God Himself shaped and
impressed them on their minds. And on the other hand it
anathematizes those who do not accept the iconographies
of such visions before the incarnation of God the Word.
It follows that the Beginningless Father must be represented
in icons as He appeared to the Prophet Daniel, as the Ancient of Days."


NB: "It follows that the Beginningless Father must be represented in icons
as He appeared to the Prophet Daniel, as the Ancient of Days."



Here is a perfect example of the fact that even saints are fallible and err. The Orthodox Church does not believe the Ancient of Days in Daniel's vision to be the Father, but was only the opinion of some Fathers and is not the consensus of the Church,  these opinons are not shared by the liturgical texts, nor by the traditions of canonical iconography, nor has there existed an image of the Father based on the events described in Daniel 7. In fact there has never existed an icon of God the Father  or the (NT)Trinity, before, during or for many centuries after the 7th Ecumenical Council, this is a historical fact beyond any reasonable shadow of a doubt.  It is a product of certain Russian monks of the 15th century, thru whom the modernist western painting of the NT Trinity entered Mt Athos and from there into Greece and other areas.

I will keep in mind this passage of St. Nikodemos as proof that even saints have fallen into error. As a rebutal i will quote from the first local council to condemn iconoclasm held in Rome in 731 a.d.:

"Whoever removes, destroys, dishonors, or insults the images of the Savior, His Holy Mother, or the Apostles, will not recieve the Holy Body and Blood of the Savior and will be excluded from the Church."

As you can see from the Roman council of 731a.d. One is not condemned as an iconoclast for desecrating God the Father depictions, in fact they never even existed at that time (contrary to what St Nikodemus believes). This is further expanded upon by the 7th Ecumenical council:

Likewise the venerable images of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the humanity He assumed for our salvation , and of our spotless Lady, the Holy Mother of God,  and of the angels like unto God, and of the Holy Apostles, Prophets, Martyrs, and of all the Saints, the sacred images of all of these i salute and venerate...."(SESSION 1 7th ecumenical council), As you can see God the Father depictions are NOT included.

The champion of Iconography and a contemporary of the 7th Ecumenical Council, St Theodore the Studite confirms that images of the Trinity or God the Father do not exist nor can they:

"Men and angels are images of God. We are obliged to make icons of both and offer veneration to them...But by discarding images of everything that has a depictable nature you have also discarded images of every heavenly and earthly thing, EXCEPT for the Holy Trinity, for it alone is not made into an icon because it is not a creature but the uncreated."(Censure and Refutation of impuous poems)
St Theodore the Studite used the fact that the Church DOES NOT condone God the Father images as a defense of Icons against the iconoclasts:
"If He is not a prototype of His own Icon, neither was He enfleshed, remaining beyond depictability because of the infinity of His deity."(2nd Refutation of the Iconomachs) 

The icon of Christ as the Ancient of Days and Christ as an infant sitting in His lap (erroneously depicted as God the Father in the Shangai church and the false variations known as the 'Paternity' in the russian tradition) is certain imagery borrowed from the Great Vesper Service of the Meeting of the Lord where 2 forms of the same hypostasis of Christ is meant to be depicted as a dichotomy between young and old, Being found in time while being timeless:

"Let the gate of heaven be opened today, For He who is without beginning, The Logos of the Father, has made a beginning in time without forsaking his divinity...."

"The Ancient of Days, a young child  in the flesh was brought to the temple by his mother the Virgin fulfilling the ordinance of His own law".

Many of these liturgical quotes have already been posted in a previous reply. As for the anathema mentioned above (from session 5 of the council) is better translated as, "Anathema to those who do not accept the visions of the prophets and reject the iconographies of the wonderous, prophetic visions, of the Logos before the incarnation....  This more accurate translation is verified by the fact that in the Service of The Meeting of our Lord in the Temple, where Christ is mentioned as the Ancient of Days, the OT reading is from Isaiah 6.1-12  another heavenly vision where many originally interpreted to be God the Father, but the worship of our Church verifies it being Christ, the Ancient of Days.
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« Reply #78 on: May 20, 2008, 04:02:33 AM »

Here is another Icon of Christ as the Ancient of Days within the Russian Tradition -which pre-dates all God the Father images:

http://all-photo.ru/icon/index.en.html?kk=801309a4c2&img=28261&big=on

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« Reply #79 on: May 20, 2008, 09:50:17 AM »

St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite, in his prolegomena to the Seventh Ecumenical
Council, sums up the Council's decrees on this subject as follows:

...

NB: "It follows that the Beginningless Father must be represented in icons
as He appeared to the Prophet Daniel, as the Ancient of Days."

Good point, buzuxi, as I read this, this is one saint's summary of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, not the council itself.  The council is authoritatively binding, but this commentary?  Not necessarily.
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« Reply #80 on: May 20, 2008, 10:05:13 AM »

Coptic iconography never depicts God the Father.

However the Ethiopians quite happily place three indentical images side by side on the one Throne flanked by the Four Living Creatures: http://www.prairienet.org/~dxmoges/CHI-2.jpg (this may take a moment to load on dial-up)

Personally I like such icons although I see how easily they can be misunderstood (by Muslims especially) as indicating three gods. (Of course it does a fine job of displaying three Persons though.)
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« Reply #81 on: May 20, 2008, 12:49:51 PM »

I like that icon. Three Persons, yet one Image. Thank you for sharing it.
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« Reply #82 on: May 20, 2008, 02:07:28 PM »

I have argued that Christ is the Icon of the Father and has revealed Him to us.

So we make an "icon of the Icon," as it were, but not of the undepictable One, yes?
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« Reply #83 on: May 20, 2008, 06:19:35 PM »

St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite, in his prolegomena to the Seventh Ecumenical
Council, sums up the Council's decrees on this subject as follows:
...
NB: "It follows that the Beginningless Father must be represented in icons
as He appeared to the Prophet Daniel, as the Ancient of Days."

Good point, buzuxi, as I read this, this is one saint's summary of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, not the council itself.  The council is authoritatively binding, but this commentary?  Not necessarily.
*
Hasn't this just rendered the Council' decision useless?  If a God-illumined Saint and renowned canonist cannot understand the Council correctly, then who can?
« Last Edit: May 20, 2008, 09:27:00 PM by Irish Hermit » Logged
buzuxi
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« Reply #84 on: May 20, 2008, 10:47:42 PM »

Personally i wouldnt be surprised if  the final sentence is an interpolation added on by a sympathizer of the God the Father icon years after St Nikodemos death. Knowing all the evidence (as presented in previous posts) Im quite comfortable in concluding that the final sentence is a forgery added onto the original explanation of St Nikodemos years later. It even feels out of place. The translation I used in my post concerning the Anathama is given by George Gabriel which he took from THE 1958 Synodikon of Orthodoxy of Athens Greece,
Here is a link to the Synodikon which uses the same translation of the Anathema as in your original post, when you read it in its entirety and in context you realize the prophetic visions are towards those of the  pre-incarnate Christ not God the Father:

http://web.ukonline.co.uk/ephrem/synodikon.htm

A description is not given as to what the Ancient of Days physically looks like in Daniel. The white hair and beard is the description given of Jesus Christ in his post-ressurected form as the Apostle John saw him in the heavenly vision of Rev 1.13-14, "His head and His hairs were like white as wool, as white as snow .  In my previous post i also mentioned that the Martyrdom of Perpetua written in 203 a.d. also describes a vision of heaven where Christ is described as "white-headed". The Church believes that Daniels vision of the Ancient of Days is the eternal Pre-Incarnate Christ who happens to be the one and same Post-ressurected Christ which John saw in his vision. Thus the Ancient of Days is depicted with white hair and beard.
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« Reply #85 on: June 06, 2008, 09:11:35 PM »




This Romanian icon of the Trinity is definitely in a class all by itself.
Anyone ever seen anything like this in other Orthodox cultures?
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« Reply #86 on: June 06, 2008, 09:18:14 PM »

This Romanian icon of the Trinity is definitely in a class all by itself.
Anyone ever seen anything like this in other Orthodox cultures?

Interesting. I remember seeing a photograph of a Western illuminated manuscript with a similar image to this, but I can't remember if it was pre-schism or not.
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« Reply #87 on: June 07, 2008, 05:19:16 AM »

There are very similar Balkan and Ukrainian images from the early to mid-1800s, but are very rare, and just as hideous and uncanonical as the Romanian one posted by seraphim. Here is a link to one of them:

http://campus.belmont.edu/honors/Christs/001trinity1.jpg
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« Reply #88 on: June 07, 2008, 05:49:38 AM »

There are very similar Balkan and Ukrainian images from the early to mid-1800s, but are very rare, and just as hideous and uncanonical as the Romanian one posted by seraphim. Here is a link to one of them:

http://campus.belmont.edu/honors/Christs/001trinity1.jpg
While I may disagree with you on the Holy Wisdom icon, I must agree with your assessment of this one these.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2008, 05:51:11 AM by Αριστοκλής » Logged

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« Reply #89 on: June 07, 2008, 10:05:28 AM »

While I like the colours and find it curious, the above Romanian "icon" is rather disorientating. "Hideous" is a good word to describe  it. Does anyone else feel dizzy while looking at it?
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