well, i went back through the thread and found this point on early veneration of icons had already been made on page 1:
A question that came to my mind recently was pertaining to the frequently depicted in the west image of Christ as the Good Shepherd. I don't know if I've ever seen this presented as an icon in the Orthodox Church-why is this?
I have seen several modern Orthodox icons of the Good Shepherd. In the Roman Catacombs, there are something like 114 documented representations of the Good Shepherd, dating from the 2nd through 3rd century. There's also a very famous late antique/early Byzantine version of the Good Shepherd in Ravenna. Reproduced below:
Images of a shepherd with a lamb over his back were very popular -- and very symbolic -- in the Greco-Roman world for a number of centuries, especially in the second century. Most of the philosophical schools (among which Christianity was sometimes numbered) taught that right-living consisted of (1) piety toward God and (2) philanthropy/benevolence toward neighbors.
Piety was depicted by a man in an orans position (lifting up hands in prayer). Philanthropy by a man with a sheep over his shoulders. These twin images appear on many pagan (and Christian) sarcophagi, and were even made part of the State's iconography by particularly philosophically inclined emperors like Marcus Aurelius.
I don't think the ancient origin and presence of iconography is being disputed. I think we all know its existed since the Apostles since it was inherited from Judaism.
What I was saying earlier, was that the way iconography was viewed and treated evolved over the first few hundred years and that they weren't kissing and bowing before the iconography until a few hundred years later.
However, just because such a kind veneration wasn't there to begin with doesnt mean its wrong, I mean we almost had them ripped from our hands for good, and it makes sense that we'd hold it as more dear after almost losing it altogether.
I assure you LBK and Michal, I'm not an extreme liberal. You can find others out there, especially popular Orthodox scholars, writers and speakers who agree with me on many of those things.
My mistake was not taking their advice and not confronting someone with it when they don't agree. I just feel offended when I'm told that I have to hold a strict view of icons, or that I must not be fully Orthodox because of my views. But of course, this is, unfortunately how the Internet works, and anyone who brings up any Orthodox topic on the net can almost guarantee that someone will eventually question their Orthodoxy.
I was wrong to bring the subject into public rather than keeping it among like-minded folk, and confronting someone directly who I knew wouldnt agree with what I was saying. There is a place within Orthodoxy for scholarly study, inquisitive and critical analysis, logical reasoning and exercise of intellect. We have a long history of Orthodox Intellectuals going back to St. Basil and even before him, but my mistake is trying to push the views of those whose opinions I value onto those who I know may even be afraid of such line of thinking.
Lastly Michal, I didn't get these from books, or at least not entirely. With the hundreds of books in English out there, there are also hundreds of podcasts and talks that are available for free which are done by people who are well respected by the Orthodox community and who even may have had prominence in our seminaries and organizations.
I must, however, bow out of this discussion and attempt to limit my activity from here on. My spiritual guides have never told me I am un-Orthodox in the ideas I hold, but they've given some advice to avoid discussion websites because they can get so offensive and to the unhealthy point of even doubting the Orthodoxy of others in the church. I hadn't heeded their words until now, and I feel that I should finally make an effort wife it seems these Orthodox websites have done nothing but cause scandal whenever any opinion is expressed at all, no matter how okay it may seem. This is nothing against the creators of this site, but just a statement on how these sort of things always work, whether they are Orthodox or not.