Author Topic: Did Jesus/Yeshua, the apostles, or any church fathers use an iconostasis?  (Read 26264 times)

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Offline yeshuaisiam

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I can' find at what point in history these became a necessary part of the church.  When did it all become "holy" / "heaven" in the altar area and how was this practiced by the church fathers?

I'm curious because if Eastern Orthodoxy is the one true church, then we should see it practiced in very early Christianity.
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Offline Asteriktos

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Maybe St. Luke built the first iconostasis, right after he made the first icon.  ???
« Last Edit: April 17, 2011, 02:40:59 PM by Asteriktos »

Offline biro

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Is using a bicycle to get to church acceptable?

Nobody had bicycles back then, either.

My only weakness is, well, never mind

Offline yeshuaisiam

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Is using a bicycle to get to church acceptable?

Nobody had bicycles back then, either.

?   ???

I'm not asking if it is acceptable.  I'm asking if they were used pre-nicea (basically) and the origin.  Because EO is the one true church since 33 AD. I'm wondering when the use of the iconostasis started and why it is considered "heaven" behind it, and why it was incepted in the first place.
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Offline Tikhon29605

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It doesn't matter if Jesus, the apostles, or the church father used an iconostasis. We are not trying to recreate some archaelogical form of Christianity from some supposed "pristine" era.  That's the error of the Protestants. They are always going on a phantom search for the ever-elusive "New Testament Church" or "New Testament Christianity."  That's not the point. The point is to find the Christ-bearing apostolic community that Christ founded and that is STILL in existence, namely the Orthodox Church.  You need to join the Church as it is NOW, not how it was in some former era, in some supposed "purer" time.  

Icons do go back very,very early in Christianity, however.  The catacombs of Rome are full of them. (And that was before 325 A.D.).  The Canon of the New Testament wasn't even settled to around the year 400 A.D., so that's an early testimony right there.  There is the oral tradition of the Church that Christ Himself made the very first icon when he sent the Holy Napkin to King Abgar of Edessa.  Holy Tradition also tells us that St. Luke painted the first icon of the Theotokos.  Certainly by the time between 600 A.D. and 700 A.D. icons were very common in Orthodox Churches because of the raging Iconoclastic Controversy that lasted for years. Finally in 787 A.D. the icons were restored with the triumph of Orthodoxy.

The iconostasis itself developed rather gradually, in stages. Many of us who are Orthodox view this development as being under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  The altar area, apparently, always had something that separated it from the rest of the nave, whether it was simply being elevated a few steps higher than the nave, or having a templon (kind of like a low altar rail with columns) around it, or a curtain closing it off (the Coptics and the Church of the East maintain the curtain to this day).  Eventually icons began to adorn the templon itself.  This developed into our modern iconostasis.

I hope this helps.

Offline FormerReformer

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What would Jesus need an icon for?  Though I do suppose it's possible He had a small, portable mirror.
"Funny," said Lancelot, "how the people who can't pray say that prayers are not answered, however much the people who can pray say they are."  TH White

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Offline IsmiLiora

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What would Jesus need an icon for?  Though I do suppose it's possible He had a small, portable mirror.
LOL!
She's touring the facility/and picking up slack.
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Offline 88Devin12

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Here is the history...

Early Christian Churches (that is, house & catacomb churches) had a structured, liturgical worship, largely based on Judaism (as the earliest Christians were Jews, as well as Gentiles). Their temples began to be shaped in a manner similar to that of the Temple in Jerusalem as a prototype. (though they weren't Judaic Churches) What I mean by this, is that they had a "progression" about them. This was developed over time and came into it's fulfillment when Christianity was legalized by Constantine, and the current Orthodox Church layout (cross-in-square) is the eventual evolution of Eastern Christian architecture, as it is the combination of the early basilica and centralized church plans.

Back to my statement about "progression"... You will notice that even in early basilica churches, you have several elements...
The Atrium (an enclosed courtyard in front)
The Porch/Outer Narthex
The Narthex/Inner Narthex (sometimes there are two interior narthexs, in this case, one is the inner and the other is the outer)
The Nave
The Sanctuary

This progression roughly matches that of the Temple in Jerusalem (which follows Old Testament directions) and of the appearance/layout you can find through reading of Revelation and other Books.

Now, from the early days, not everyone was allowed in the Church, some (IE: Non-Orthodox) were only allowed to stay in the atrium outside. Others (IE: Penitents) were only allowed to be in the Narthex(s). And only Clergy (and other people with blessings) could enter the sanctuary.

Each "section" is divided from the other. In the earliest days of the Church, the Sanctuary was divided from the Nave by a low wall. Eventually this low wall had columns around it with an architrave above. This development (with the low wall, columns and architrave) is known as a "Templon". The Templon served the same function as the low wall, but also reflected architecture of some Roman and Greek Theaters, which were perfect fittings for Church Architecture and the Liturgy.
The Templon appeared roughly around the 5th Century. So for about 300-400 years, most Christian Churches (East & West) had a low wall separating the Sanctuary from the Nave.
Eventually, as time went on, the Templon grew in size (for various reasons) and we eventually see it evolve into the Iconostasis (basically a Templon with Icons) around about the 10th Century.

The West actually followed a similar development, as it had a low-wall separating the Sanctuary from the Nave, and like the East, it grew into a more substantial wall, and eventually evolved into the "Rood Screen" around about the 10th Century. However, in the West, this barrier eventually shrunk back down into a low wall/railing (at around the 14th Century) and as we can see today, it has disappeared (almost) entirely from Western Churches.


So now that you know the history, maybe I can explain something about it. Remember that I had mentioned earlier that the Churches are organized in a specific way? Well the Sanctuary is equal to the "Holy of Holies" in the Temple of Jerusalem.
What was contained in the Holy of Holies in Jerusalem?
1. The Ark of the Covenant
2. The Tablets of God's Covenant
3. The Rod of Aaron that buds
4. The pot of mannah
5. A menorah (7 branch candle-stand)
6. A sacrificial altar
7. The dwelling place (tabernacle)
8. A Censer for the High Priest

The ark was also covered with a "mercy seat" for the Divine Presence of God himself. This mercy seat had cherubim on each said, and God was to have spoke from between the cherubim.
The Holy of Holies was also concealed with a veil across the entrance.

Now, what is contained in the Sanctuary of Orthodox Churches?
1. The Holy Altar
2. The Holy Gospel (of the New Covenant)
3. The Cross (often this will be a "budding" cross)
4. The Eucharist
5. A 7 Branch Candle-Stand
6. The Holy Altar (where the Lamb of God is sacrificed)
7. The tablernacle, which is where the Eucharist is "stored"
8. A Censer

There is also an icon above the sanctuary of the Theotokos, with Christ sitting on her lap, and with angels on either side. (The Theotokos is the "mercy seat", and God still speaks "between the cherubim")
Another fulfillment of the mercy seat is the tabernacle itself, where the Eucharist is stored. Oftentimes you will see "fans" (representing the Cherubim and other Angels) behind the altar, and would be on the right & left of the tabernacle, symbolizing God speaking to us through his very Body & Blood.
The door(s) to the sanctuary are also covered with a curtain/veil.

There is also a blessing cross, which again, is the fulfillment of Aaron's Rod. Candlesticks, which are found in the OT Temple and in Revelation. And the Antimension, which has the burial of Christ (his Sabbath) represented on it, this is unfolded only during the Divine Liturgy and is folded and kept with the Gospel when not in use.

Orthodox Christianity is the fulfillment of the faith practiced by our Fathers since God made Adam. It is a continuation of that same faith.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2011, 03:53:04 PM by 88Devin12 »

Offline Keble

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The notion of the area around the altar being consecrated (i.e., set aside) goes back very, very far but its position in the church varied a lot for quite awhile. For example, St. Germanus describes a liturgy in which the apse is occupied by the episcopal throne and the sanctuary is in the center of the church.

Offline Marc1152

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I can' find at what point in history these became a necessary part of the church.  When did it all become "holy" / "heaven" in the altar area and how was this practiced by the church fathers?

I'm curious because if Eastern Orthodoxy is the one true church, then we should see it practiced in very early Christianity.

Did you eat steak and potatoes when you were 6 months old? I bet not. Are you the same person as that infant? Yes you are.

Is the Orthodox Church the exact same Church founded by the Apsotles? Yes it is.

Do we reatin the exact same faith? Yes we do.

Do we still wear togas and sandals? No we don't.

Did the very early Church accept the use of Icons? Yes it did. St. Luke is remembered as having drawn an Icon of the Theotokos .

When the use of icons was called into question centuries later by the Iconoclasts, a council was eventually called ( The 7th Ecumenicdal Council). Every line of scripture for and against was discussed. The history of the use of icons was carefully examined to see what it had been. Both sides had their say. Icons were determined to be fully and completely within the bounds of Scripture and the Holy Tradition of Christianity.

Questions?  

« Last Edit: April 17, 2011, 04:43:21 PM by Marc1152 »
Your idea has been debunked 1000 times already.. Maybe 1001 will be the charm

Offline quester

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88Devin12, very informative post. Thanks.

Offline NicholasMyra

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Wonderful explanations so far. Here's a visual:

Rudimentary reconstruction of the Jerusalem Temple veil:


Ethiopian Orthodox altar, with veil; notice that the veil is open (rent, see Matthew 27:51 and Hebrews 10:20):


Russian Orthodox altar, with Iconostasis. Notice that the doors are opened.





Quote from: Fr. Thomas Hopko, dystopian parable of the prodigal son
...you can imagine so-called healing services of the pigpen. The books that could be written, you know: Life in the Pigpen. How to Cope in the Pigpen. Being Happy in the Pigpen. Surviving in the Pigpen. And then there could be counselling, for people who feel unhappy in the pigpen, to try to get them to come to terms with the pigpen, and to accept the pigpen.

Offline akimori makoto

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It doesn't matter if Jesus, the apostles, or the church father used an iconostasis. We are not trying to recreate some archaelogical form of Christianity from some supposed "pristine" era.  That's the error of the Protestants. They are always going on a phantom search for the ever-elusive "New Testament Church" or "New Testament Christianity."  That's not the point. The point is to find the Christ-bearing apostolic community that Christ founded and that is STILL in existence, namely the Orthodox Church.  You need to join the Church as it is NOW, not how it was in some former era, in some supposed "purer" time.

Akimori Makoto likes this.

In the law, we often grapple with the question of whether judges make new laws. Some say they don't (which just seems to fly in the face of what can be clearly observed) and others say that they can and should (which seems to fly in the face of the notion that making laws is for the parliament/congress to do). The answer seems to be that yes, judges do make law, but when they do so, they are adding the next few lines to an epic chain novel which began hundreds of years ago. What judges need to do is ensure that their changes to the novel make sense in terms of that what came before.

I think the same is true of the church.

We know that the early church received the Precious Body in the hand and not by spoon. Applying my novel analogy, this change to the church's practice is like writing the next few lines of a battle scene. Insisting that the eucharist is merely a symbol would be like instantaneously shifting the scene of the battle from Salamis to Sekigahara -- it would no longer be recognisably the same novel!
« Last Edit: April 17, 2011, 09:12:15 PM by akimori makoto »
The Episcopallian road is easy and wide, for many go through it to find destruction. lol sorry channeling Isa.

Offline yeshuaisiam

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We can't compare the church to the same thing as a man growing.  This is not a place for analogy.

When we bring in things to our worship, it leaves room for distortion and heresy.

For instance, the analogy was made, "are you the same person as when you were an infant".   Yes.

When I was an infant, I didn't know better, didn't pollute the world, wasn't greedy, didn't have a clue of many sins, couldn't work, couldn't feed myself...  I couldn't exploit.

But the church has made an iconostasis, which is a separation considered "heaven" behind it.  Where did THAT come from?
Thanks!
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Offline genesisone

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We can't compare the church to the same thing as a man growing.  This is not a place for analogy.
Why not? Within the limits of the analogy, of course, as no analogy is perfect.

The Church is said to be the Bride of Christ. That sounds like a person to me. And that relationship will grow, develop, and mature over time. I can assure you that my marriage today is not what it was in 1975. Many things have changed about us but we are still the same persons and we still have the same bond of marriage holding us together. We have created many traditions over the years that we now hold very dear. They all developed quite naturally within the context of our relationship. This is what happens in the relationship between Christ and His Bride.

Quote
When we bring in things to our worship, it leaves room for distortion and heresy.

For instance, the analogy was made, "are you the same person as when you were an infant".   Yes.

When I was an infant, I didn't know better, didn't pollute the world, wasn't greedy, didn't have a clue of many sins, couldn't work, couldn't feed myself...  I couldn't exploit.

But the church has made an iconostasis, which is a separation considered "heaven" behind it.  Where did THAT come from?
Thanks!
What research have you already done? What is your response to this easily located article? There are plenty of other histories of the iconostasis online and in print.

Offline FatherGiryus

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well, let's take this from the Jewish perspective: Abraham never set foot in Solomon's Temple, nor Moses' Tabernacle.  Would you say that they followed two separate Gods, perhaps three?

Within the Old Testament, you have a variety of worship practices, from pre-temple to exilic.  Even now, a Jew attends a synagogue that resembles, but is not exactly like, the worship of his forefathers.

The difference is when these changes are made by the greater communion of believers, or someone going off on their own.

The iconostasis developed from the curtain, which was inherited from Judaism.  There is a very nice post above that describes the elements of that transition.

The grave difficulty is that when one tries to 'go back' to some more ancient practice, one negates all the profound gains the Church has made over the century both in terms of people and in terms of clarifying the Truth that has always been.  It can be likened to th development of a child, just as the Apostles grew in their understanding of who Jesus is (that's pretty plain in the Gospels, where you can see them struggling all the way into Acts!).

Yes, it is dangerous, but growing up is dangerous.  If I teach my child how to walk, he will eventually run into the street and risk being run over.

Yet, we teach him to walk and accept the risk because he was made to walk.

We put our trust in God and do the best we can with what we have been given.  The Tradition is what we have been given, and so we do our best with it.


We can't compare the church to the same thing as a man growing.  This is not a place for analogy.

When we bring in things to our worship, it leaves room for distortion and heresy.

For instance, the analogy was made, "are you the same person as when you were an infant".   Yes.

When I was an infant, I didn't know better, didn't pollute the world, wasn't greedy, didn't have a clue of many sins, couldn't work, couldn't feed myself...  I couldn't exploit.

But the church has made an iconostasis, which is a separation considered "heaven" behind it.  Where did THAT come from?
Thanks!
You can't find wisdom in the mirror.

Offline PoorFoolNicholas

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Nice post NicholasMyra! I am a visual learner. Very helpful.

Online rakovsky

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I'm curious because if Eastern Orthodoxy is the one true church, then we should see it practiced in very early Christianity.

...I'm not asking if it is acceptable.  I'm asking if they were used pre-nicea (basically) and the origin.  Because EO is the one true church since 33 AD. I'm wondering when the use of the iconostasis started and why it is considered "heaven" behind it, and why it was incepted in the first place.
Did you eat steak and potatoes when you were 6 months old? I bet not. Are you the same person as that infant? Yes you are.

Is the Orthodox Church the exact same Church founded by the Apsotles? Yes it is.

Do we reatin the exact same faith? Yes we do.

Do we still wear togas and sandals? No we don't.  

« Last Edit: April 18, 2011, 11:39:25 AM by rakovsky »
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Offline FatherGiryus

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That's not a Russian iconostasis.  That's very much an Americanized version.  Note the Holy Doors (I suppose they are open).


<snip>
Russian Orthodox altar, with Iconostasis. Notice that the doors are opened.

You can't find wisdom in the mirror.

Offline NicholasMyra

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That's not a Russian iconostasis.  That's very much an Americanized version.  Note the Holy Doors (I suppose they are open).


<snip>
Russian Orthodox altar, with Iconostasis. Notice that the doors are opened.
[img]http://dioceseofalaska.org/images/BrightMonday2004/images/image001.jpg[img]
Father,

My mistake, it's actually from Alaska.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2011, 12:05:26 PM by NicholasMyra »
Quote from: Fr. Thomas Hopko, dystopian parable of the prodigal son
...you can imagine so-called healing services of the pigpen. The books that could be written, you know: Life in the Pigpen. How to Cope in the Pigpen. Being Happy in the Pigpen. Surviving in the Pigpen. And then there could be counselling, for people who feel unhappy in the pigpen, to try to get them to come to terms with the pigpen, and to accept the pigpen.

Offline NicholasMyra

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But the church has made an iconostasis, which is a separation considered "heaven" behind it.  Where did THAT come from?
Thanks!
You saw the pictures and have heard the explanations. You now know what the veil meant to OT Jews, and what the tearing of the veil meant to Jewish Christians.

Heaven is "brought out to the people" in the Eucharist. The separation is breached every Divine Liturgy. That's the whole point.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2011, 12:06:56 PM by NicholasMyra »
Quote from: Fr. Thomas Hopko, dystopian parable of the prodigal son
...you can imagine so-called healing services of the pigpen. The books that could be written, you know: Life in the Pigpen. How to Cope in the Pigpen. Being Happy in the Pigpen. Surviving in the Pigpen. And then there could be counselling, for people who feel unhappy in the pigpen, to try to get them to come to terms with the pigpen, and to accept the pigpen.

Offline ialmisry

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We can't compare the church to the same thing as a man growing.  This is not a place for analogy.
Then I'm afraid you are quite in the cold, as the NT is quite clear that the Church is the Body of Christ, and St. Paul goes on at length about the analoy in the NT.

When we bring in things to our worship, it leaves room for distortion and heresy.
Bringing nothing to your worship leaves room for distortion and heresy. Witness the three language heresy.

For instance, the analogy was made, "are you the same person as when you were an infant".   Yes.

When I was an infant, I didn't know better, didn't pollute the world, wasn't greedy, didn't have a clue of many sins, couldn't work, couldn't feed myself...  I couldn't exploit.
And when the Church was in her infancy and childhood, she was illegal and herefore could not build public edifaces. But she made due with catacombs and house Churches, all of which show a sanctuary marked off.

But the church has made an iconostasis, which is a separation considered "heaven" behind it.  Where did THAT come from?
Heaven.

The Tabernacle's design was shown by God. The Temple design, borrowed from the Canaanites (who, unlike the nomadic Hebrews, had experience in raising public edifaces), was modeled on the Taberenacle.  The synagogue was modeled on the Temple, having a santuary for the Torah scroll which grew in prominence with the destruction of the Temple.  The Early Church worshipped in the Temple and Synagogue (the Liturgy of the Word) and then gathered for the breaking of bread in secret in houses (the Liturgy of the Eucharist). As they were throughn out of Temple and Synagogue, and the Liturgy of the Word was joined to the Liturgy of the Eucharist into the Divine Liturgy, the houses modifed for worship maintained a sanctuary, marked of by the -stasis of the iconostasis.  All the earliest Churches we have have sanctuaries and iconography.

Btw, someone ideas on the development of sanctuary, from a non-Orthodox view:
"From synagogue to church: the traditional design : its beginning, its definition, its end" by John Wilkinson
http://books.google.com/books?id=ucHk4CiFoGsC&pg=PA94&dq=synagogue+sanctuary&hl=en#v=onepage&q=synagogue%20sanctuary&f=false
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Offline Marc1152

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We can't compare the church to the same thing as a man growing.  This is not a place for analogy.

When we bring in things to our worship, it leaves room for distortion and heresy.

For instance, the analogy was made, "are you the same person as when you were an infant".   Yes.

When I was an infant, I didn't know better, didn't pollute the world, wasn't greedy, didn't have a clue of many sins, couldn't work, couldn't feed myself...  I couldn't exploit.

But the church has made an iconostasis, which is a separation considered "heaven" behind it.  Where did THAT come from?
Thanks!

We can't compare the church to the same thing as a man growing.  This is not a place for analogy.


Well...We can and did.

Having an Inconostasis changes nothing about the faith. Icons were used very early in the Church. You have been shown the long history of setting up similar screens. You have been informed that the use of icons in general was reviewed by a Council who approved their continued use. 
There is no new theology here what so ever. Having an Iconostasis is perfectly consistent with Holy Tradition.
Your idea has been debunked 1000 times already.. Maybe 1001 will be the charm

Offline 88Devin12

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We can't compare the church to the same thing as a man growing.  This is not a place for analogy.

When we bring in things to our worship, it leaves room for distortion and heresy.

For instance, the analogy was made, "are you the same person as when you were an infant".   Yes.

When I was an infant, I didn't know better, didn't pollute the world, wasn't greedy, didn't have a clue of many sins, couldn't work, couldn't feed myself...  I couldn't exploit.

But the church has made an iconostasis, which is a separation considered "heaven" behind it.  Where did THAT come from?
Thanks!

We can't compare the church to the same thing as a man growing.  This is not a place for analogy.


Well...We can and did.

Having an Inconostasis changes nothing about the faith. Icons were used very early in the Church. You have been shown the long history of setting up similar screens. You have been informed that the use of icons in general was reviewed by a Council who approved their continued use. 
There is no new theology here what so ever. Having an Iconostasis is perfectly consistent with Holy Tradition.


Exactly...

The Church isn't a museum preserving things in absolute stasis. It's a living breathing being, it is the bride of Christ. It preserves and protects the faith given to us by God himself and passed on through the Apostles, but it can grow and shape and Christen things, and evolve in various ways. All the while, the Church never, ever compromises the faith or the Traditions handed down to us. If it makes sense, our traditions (small t) change and evolve, but our Traditions (big T) do not, and we preserve the faith intact.

Offline yeshuaisiam

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I keep hearing "Icons were used in the early church"...  I'd love to see evidence of these pre-nicea. pre 325 A.D.

Anyhow, I wasn't asking about icons.

I was asking about the iconostasis, the "barrier" that separates heaven & Earth.
My question was diluted to an icon discussion.

The iconostasis is so much more than "icons".

I'm asking if the apostles, Christ, and early church fathers did not believe that a screen of icons could separate Heaven and Earth, why do we?  They did not use the iconostasis as we do.  I ask this in humble curiosity. 

If men merely brought this into the worship where a man made barrier of paintings depicting our Savior, the Theotokos, etc., are you comfortable knowing that holds such impact was brought in by men for our worship?

My 8 year old asked a good question.  "If God is invisible and wants to keep being invisible, why do we make him visible through icons".
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Offline Shanghaiski

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It would be an interesting thread to discuss whether there is any humility in curiosity.

Anyway, it is not a dogma of the Orthodox Church that an or the iconostasis separates "heaven" from "earth," that is merely a lovely little poetical explanation. Neither is it a barrier between the holy and the profane or the holy and the more holy. The nave is also holy. As is the narthex. And yet, there are churches which have none of these things. The divisions are common, but not completely universal or essential. What we have today as an iconostasis did not develop until a few centuries after the time of the Apostles. The same can be said for many other things. It does not change anything.
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Offline myrrhbear

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My 8 year old asked a good question.  "If God is invisible and wants to keep being invisible, why do we make him visible through icons".

I'll let those more experienced answer, but I'll say this much: It's because God became MAN, Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God. God became visible, became matter! If He had not done this we would not have icons of Christ.
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Offline akimori makoto

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Anyway, it is not a dogma of the Orthodox Church that an or the iconostasis separates "heaven" from "earth," that is merely a lovely little poetical explanation.

I've also heard it said that the purpose of the iconostasis is not to block sight (ie make what is happening at the altar distant and remote), but to increase spiritual sight (ie make manifest to the people what is really happening at the altar -- heavenly worship).

I love these paradoxical notions in Orthodoxy. You wish to see? First cover your eyes.
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Offline ialmisry

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I keep hearing "Icons were used in the early church"...  I'd love to see evidence of these pre-nicea. pre 325 A.D.
I'd love to see any evidence of any pre-nicea 325 A.D. Church that didn't.

Anyhow, I wasn't asking about icons.
Yes, you were, whether you are aware or not, or deny it.

I was asking about the iconostasis, the "barrier" that separates heaven & Earth.

My question was diluted to an icon discussion.

The iconostasis is so much more than "icons".

I'm asking if the apostles, Christ, and early church fathers did not believe that a screen of icons could separate Heaven and Earth, why do we?  They did not use the iconostasis as we do.  I ask this in humble curiosity.
 
They all marked off the sanctuary, as noted above.

If men merely brought this into the worship where a man made barrier of paintings depicting our Savior, the Theotokos, etc., are you comfortable knowing that holds such impact was brought in by men for our worship?
I know the early Muslims complained of being "seduced" into the Church by them.

My 8 year old asked a good question.  "If God is invisible and wants to keep being invisible, why do we make him visible through icons".

Your 8 year old evidently hasn't been exposed to the Gospel of John:"He who has seen Me has seen the Father."
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Offline NicholasMyra

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I'm asking if the apostles, Christ, and early church fathers did not believe that a screen of icons could separate Heaven and Earth, why do we?
Are you saying that Christ was not the author of the Jerusalem Temple? He is the Word of God, yeshuaisiam. You know this. You know that the Hebrews used the veil. Christ was the perfect Hebrew, he knew exactly what it was for. St. James the Just knew exactly what it was for.

You seem to make it out as though heaven only exists behind the altar and nowhere else. That is completely not the point. You have removed all poetry from the Lord's House and reduced it to a mere literalized... I don't even know what. Something re-constructionist, cold and dead. You are attacking a strawman.
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I keep hearing "Icons were used in the early church"...  I'd love to see evidence of these pre-nicea. pre 325 A.D.
Will Wikipedia work?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depiction_of_Jesus#Before_Constantine
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Offline ialmisry

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I'm asking if the apostles, Christ, and early church fathers did not believe that a screen of icons could separate Heaven and Earth, why do we?
Are you saying that Christ was not the author of the Jerusalem Temple? He is the Word of God, yeshuaisiam. You know this. You know that the Hebrews used the veil. Christ was the perfect Hebrew, he knew exactly what it was for. St. James the Just knew exactly what it was for.

You seem to make it out as though heaven only exists behind the altar and nowhere else. That is completely not the point. You have removed all poetry from the Lord's House and reduced it to a mere literalized... I don't even know what. Something re-constructionist, cold and dead. You are attacking a strawman.
Yes, he seems not to recongize that the santuary is not where heaven is seperated from earth, but where on earth Heaven comes down.
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Offline Carl Kraeff (Second Chance)

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I keep hearing "Icons were used in the early church"...  I'd love to see evidence of these pre-nicea. pre 325 A.D.
Will Wikipedia work?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depiction_of_Jesus#Before_Constantine

Thanks for the link. I went on to a page on the oldest church that has been identified so far, Dura-Europos in Syria. The city and the church were covered by sand so it is called the "Pompeii of the desert." In any case, the church has been dated back to 235 AD and it is a house church. Just go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dura_Europos and follow the links.

Offline yeshuaisiam

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I keep hearing "Icons were used in the early church"...  I'd love to see evidence of these pre-nicea. pre 325 A.D.
Will Wikipedia work?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depiction_of_Jesus#Before_Constantine

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Offline yeshuaisiam

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I'd love to see any evidence of any pre-nicea 325 A.D. Church that didn't.

As the link was given below, the earliest depiction of Jesus was in 235.  So that's nearly 200 years after Jesus Christ's time.  So unless you deny that there were other churches in those days or have any evidence that shows more icons before that time or after... I'd say this is conflated.

Anyhow, I wasn't asking about icons.
Quote
Yes, you were, whether you are aware or not, or deny it.

Uh, no I wasn't so please stop putting words in my mouth.  I asked clearly about an iconostasis and when the formal screen came into use.

My 8 year old asked a good question.  "If God is invisible and wants to keep being invisible, why do we make him visible through icons".

Quote
Your 8 year old evidently hasn't been exposed to the Gospel of John:"He who has seen Me has seen the Father."

He's had plenty of exposure to the Gospel of John and still has not seen Christ walking here on Earth or the Father.  They are invisible.  He's seen transmuted bread & wine, but never a man walking the Earth.  Do you know what he looks like?
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Offline yeshuaisiam

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I'm asking if the apostles, Christ, and early church fathers did not believe that a screen of icons could separate Heaven and Earth, why do we?
Are you saying that Christ was not the author of the Jerusalem Temple? He is the Word of God, yeshuaisiam. You know this. You know that the Hebrews used the veil. Christ was the perfect Hebrew, he knew exactly what it was for. St. James the Just knew exactly what it was for.

You seem to make it out as though heaven only exists behind the altar and nowhere else. That is completely not the point. You have removed all poetry from the Lord's House and reduced it to a mere literalized... I don't even know what. Something re-constructionist, cold and dead. You are attacking a strawman.

Well the Lord's house is our bodies isn't it?  But believe me I am not trying to remove any poetry or beauty, I am merely asking since Jesus did not use an iconostasis nor the apostles why do we?  Could have it been brought in by man and not inspired by God.   Was our examples from the apostles and early church fathers more "Christian" than what we are today?  They did not use an iconostasis like we do.
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Offline yeshuaisiam

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I'm asking if the apostles, Christ, and early church fathers did not believe that a screen of icons could separate Heaven and Earth, why do we?
Are you saying that Christ was not the author of the Jerusalem Temple? He is the Word of God, yeshuaisiam. You know this. You know that the Hebrews used the veil. Christ was the perfect Hebrew, he knew exactly what it was for. St. James the Just knew exactly what it was for.

You seem to make it out as though heaven only exists behind the altar and nowhere else. That is completely not the point. You have removed all poetry from the Lord's House and reduced it to a mere literalized... I don't even know what. Something re-constructionist, cold and dead. You are attacking a strawman.
Yes, he seems not to recongize that the santuary is not where heaven is seperated from earth, but where on earth Heaven comes down.

Yes that's how I see it.  Thus the royal doors would not be important for only clergy to enter if it was not heaven all the time.
Anyway, that brings up another subject.  Royal doors?   When did they first get used?

Please bear in mind this is a "faith issues" section.  I'm not attacking, I'm having faith issues.
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Offline 88Devin12

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Quote
I'd love to see any evidence of any pre-nicea 325 A.D. Church that didn't.

As the link was given below, the earliest depiction of Jesus was in 235.  So that's nearly 200 years after Jesus Christ's time.  So unless you deny that there were other churches in those days or have any evidence that shows more icons before that time or after... I'd say this is conflated.

Anyhow, I wasn't asking about icons.
Quote
Yes, you were, whether you are aware or not, or deny it.

Uh, no I wasn't so please stop putting words in my mouth.  I asked clearly about an iconostasis and when the formal screen came into use.

My 8 year old asked a good question.  "If God is invisible and wants to keep being invisible, why do we make him visible through icons".

Quote
Your 8 year old evidently hasn't been exposed to the Gospel of John:"He who has seen Me has seen the Father."

He's had plenty of exposure to the Gospel of John and still has not seen Christ walking here on Earth or the Father.  They are invisible.  He's seen transmuted bread & wine, but never a man walking the Earth.  Do you know what he looks like?

actually the article doesn't say that the earliest depiction was 235. That is the earliest depiction that has been found.

Additionally, Jews also had religious painting even before the time of Christ, so it isn't like Christian art appeared out of no where suddenly in the 2nd Century. (and remember, 2nd Century is the 100s, 3rd Century is the 200s)

Offline 88Devin12

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I'm asking if the apostles, Christ, and early church fathers did not believe that a screen of icons could separate Heaven and Earth, why do we?
Are you saying that Christ was not the author of the Jerusalem Temple? He is the Word of God, yeshuaisiam. You know this. You know that the Hebrews used the veil. Christ was the perfect Hebrew, he knew exactly what it was for. St. James the Just knew exactly what it was for.

You seem to make it out as though heaven only exists behind the altar and nowhere else. That is completely not the point. You have removed all poetry from the Lord's House and reduced it to a mere literalized... I don't even know what. Something re-constructionist, cold and dead. You are attacking a strawman.
Yes, he seems not to recongize that the santuary is not where heaven is seperated from earth, but where on earth Heaven comes down.

Yes that's how I see it.  Thus the royal doors would not be important for only clergy to enter if it was not heaven all the time.
Anyway, that brings up another subject.  Royal doors?   When did they first get used?

Please bear in mind this is a "faith issues" section.  I'm not attacking, I'm having faith issues.

Going back to my earlier post on the origin of the iconostasis:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,35359.msg557347.html#msg557347

The "Royal Doors" were probably just an opening in the low wall &/or templon. These things had practical liturgical purposes, and as happens in Orthodoxy, we often assign additional symbolic meaning to them.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Templon#Origins

Offline ialmisry

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I'd love to see any evidence of any pre-nicea 325 A.D. Church that didn't.

As the link was given below, the earliest depiction of Jesus was in 235.
Read again. That's the earliest depiction which we have an uncontroverted date.  Not the earliest claimed icon we have, nor the earliest evidence.  Just the earliest undisputed evidence.

So that's nearly 200 years after Jesus Christ's time.
 
Correction: that is 200 years of persecusion where public edifaces of Christianity were banned (Dura Europas survives only because it was buried in a hurry in preparation for seige, when the authorities didn't have the luxury to deal with the Christians), Bibles and icons were burned when confiscated, etc.  Do you have any idea how many (or rather I should say how few) portraits of antiquity survive?

So unless you deny that there were other churches in those days or have any evidence that shows more icons before that time or after... I'd say this is conflated.
I don't deny that there were other Churches. We have references to their destruction in those two hundred years (IIRC one in Edessa was destroyed not by the authorities but a flood in the second half of the second century).  But we can't show destroyed Churches as evidence, as they ceased to exist.  I would think that obvious.

Anyhow, I wasn't asking about icons.
Quote
Yes, you were, whether you are aware or not, or deny it.

Uh, no I wasn't so please stop putting words in my mouth.  I asked clearly about an iconostasis and when the formal screen came into use.
Your question is like asking when do we get the Bible bound together in one volume.  The answer is post 325, but that doesn't mean the Bible is post 325.

It has been told you: a formal screen or demarcation of somesort had been part of Christian worship since Sinai.

My 8 year old asked a good question.  "If God is invisible and wants to keep being invisible, why do we make him visible through icons".

Quote
Your 8 year old evidently hasn't been exposed to the Gospel of John:"He who has seen Me has seen the Father."

He's had plenty of exposure to the Gospel of John and still has not seen Christ walking here on Earth or the Father.  They are invisible.  He's seen transmuted bread & wine, but never a man walking the Earth.  Do you know what he looks like?
I never saw my grandfather, but I am the living proof he was visible, and I have seen photos.  

What Christ looks like:


If you think that Christ is invisible, you have more serious problems than you realize.
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Offline Sleeper

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I think it needs to be noted that there's nothing integral about an iconostasis as far as the Faith is concerned (icons themselves are a different story!). Nothing hinges on it (pun intended?). We can discuss the historicity of it and its symbolism, etc., but it's not something that has been "added" to the Faith; it is something that has been added to the Eastern expression of the Faith.

The Apostolic Faith is timeless and universal. Our expressions are not, important as they may be. So don't let this cause any doubts about your Orthodox faith, yeshuaisiam. When Orthodox say that nothing has been added to our faith or practice, we don't mean we do things exactly like they were done, right from the start of Christianity. We mean that our faith (our doctrine and dogma), are unchanging, whereas our practices, varied as they may be, are the fruits of that faith and the logical and natural outcomes of believing our faith to actually be true. They are expressions and manifestations of the mystical reality we experience as the Body of Christ. They embody and give witness to the "inner life" of the Church organism. So, we say our practice doesn't change because it's always an organically connected expression and embodiment of that unchanging Faith that we hold. Our pure and unchanging Apostolic Faith is the life that gives birth to our manifold expressions.

Now, that's not to say that one couldn't make a case that the emergence and development of the iconostasis didn't, in some respects, profoundly alter the way we understand the Eucharistic sacrifice. I've heard Orthodox priests say that very thing. But we have to understand that there is the physical, cultural, external aspect of our theologically incarnational Faith (tradition) and there is within that our unchanging, unalterable mystical Faith (Tradition). We see a lot of fluidity in the early Church in regards to the former, and we see uncompromising steadfastness in regards to the latter.

I think Fr. John Meyendorff puts it well: "All these factors, which were given their definitive form in the Byzantine period, have enabled the Orthodox Church to build up and to maintain a remarkably coherent corporate attitude toward the Church and the faith through the centuries.  From Byzantium also it has inherited certain historical characteristics of a less important nature.  It is our task to attempt to distinguish in this heritage between the Tradition of the Church, the expression of revealed Truth, on the one hand, and mere human traditions which have naturally tended to accumulate on the other.  This distinction will sometimes be painful to make, sometimes it can only be made gradually; but in any case the necessary adjustments can only be achieved with the help of the Spirit who teaches “all truth.”  For it is He who, without nullifying man’s free will, guides the Church toward its final destination."

The Church is a living organism, and as such, it has to adapt to its surroundings and will naturally continue to develop and grow into itself. The question you need to ask is not, "Do we do anything the Apostles didn't do?" but rather, "Have we kept that unchanging Faith, that full Revelation that Christ entrusted to His Apostles, and have we continued to express that Faith in a manner that is both historically and biblically consistent, and naturally derived from believing that Faith to actually be true."

I think you'll find that the Orthodox Church alone is able to answer "Yes" to that last question.

Offline mike

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I am merely asking since Jesus did not use an iconostasis nor the apostles why do we?

Do you realise Jesus is God and He doesn't need anything?
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Offline CRCulver

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The teaching that St. Luke painted the first icon, that of the Theotokos with Child, is so widespread in Orthodoxy (and there are in turn icons of St. Luke painting the first icon) that I daresay it's a matter of Holy Tradition and not open to questioning. If someone has doubts about this, then he has much wider issues with the Orthodox Church than simply the use of icons.

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Here is the history...

Early Christian Churches (that is, house & catacomb churches) had a structured, liturgical worship, largely based on Judaism (as the earliest Christians were Jews, as well as Gentiles). Their temples began to be shaped in a manner similar to that of the Temple in Jerusalem as a prototype. (though they weren't Judaic Churches) What I mean by this, is that they had a "progression" about them. This was developed over time and came into it's fulfillment when Christianity was legalized by Constantine, and the current Orthodox Church layout (cross-in-square) is the eventual evolution of Eastern Christian architecture, as it is the combination of the early basilica and centralized church plans.

Back to my statement about "progression"... You will notice that even in early basilica churches, you have several elements...
The Atrium (an enclosed courtyard in front)
The Porch/Outer Narthex
The Narthex/Inner Narthex (sometimes there are two interior narthexs, in this case, one is the inner and the other is the outer)
The Nave
The Sanctuary

This progression roughly matches that of the Temple in Jerusalem (which follows Old Testament directions) and of the appearance/layout you can find through reading of Revelation and other Books.

Now, from the early days, not everyone was allowed in the Church, some (IE: Non-Orthodox) were only allowed to stay in the atrium outside. Others (IE: Penitents) were only allowed to be in the Narthex(s). And only Clergy (and other people with blessings) could enter the sanctuary.

Each "section" is divided from the other. In the earliest days of the Church, the Sanctuary was divided from the Nave by a low wall. Eventually this low wall had columns around it with an architrave above. This development (with the low wall, columns and architrave) is known as a "Templon". The Templon served the same function as the low wall, but also reflected architecture of some Roman and Greek Theaters, which were perfect fittings for Church Architecture and the Liturgy.
The Templon appeared roughly around the 5th Century. So for about 300-400 years, most Christian Churches (East & West) had a low wall separating the Sanctuary from the Nave.
Eventually, as time went on, the Templon grew in size (for various reasons) and we eventually see it evolve into the Iconostasis (basically a Templon with Icons) around about the 10th Century.

The West actually followed a similar development, as it had a low-wall separating the Sanctuary from the Nave, and like the East, it grew into a more substantial wall, and eventually evolved into the "Rood Screen" around about the 10th Century. However, in the West, this barrier eventually shrunk back down into a low wall/railing (at around the 14th Century) and as we can see today, it has disappeared (almost) entirely from Western Churches.


So now that you know the history, maybe I can explain something about it. Remember that I had mentioned earlier that the Churches are organized in a specific way? Well the Sanctuary is equal to the "Holy of Holies" in the Temple of Jerusalem.
What was contained in the Holy of Holies in Jerusalem?
1. The Ark of the Covenant
2. The Tablets of God's Covenant
3. The Rod of Aaron that buds
4. The pot of mannah
5. A menorah (7 branch candle-stand)
6. A sacrificial altar
7. The dwelling place (tabernacle)
8. A Censer for the High Priest

The ark was also covered with a "mercy seat" for the Divine Presence of God himself. This mercy seat had cherubim on each said, and God was to have spoke from between the cherubim.
The Holy of Holies was also concealed with a veil across the entrance.

Now, what is contained in the Sanctuary of Orthodox Churches?
1. The Holy Altar
2. The Holy Gospel (of the New Covenant)
3. The Cross (often this will be a "budding" cross)
4. The Eucharist
5. A 7 Branch Candle-Stand
6. The Holy Altar (where the Lamb of God is sacrificed)
7. The tablernacle, which is where the Eucharist is "stored"
8. A Censer

There is also an icon above the sanctuary of the Theotokos, with Christ sitting on her lap, and with angels on either side. (The Theotokos is the "mercy seat", and God still speaks "between the cherubim")
Another fulfillment of the mercy seat is the tabernacle itself, where the Eucharist is stored. Oftentimes you will see "fans" (representing the Cherubim and other Angels) behind the altar, and would be on the right & left of the tabernacle, symbolizing God speaking to us through his very Body & Blood.
The door(s) to the sanctuary are also covered with a curtain/veil.

There is also a blessing cross, which again, is the fulfillment of Aaron's Rod. Candlesticks, which are found in the OT Temple and in Revelation. And the Antimension, which has the burial of Christ (his Sabbath) represented on it, this is unfolded only during the Divine Liturgy and is folded and kept with the Gospel when not in use.

Orthodox Christianity is the fulfillment of the faith practiced by our Fathers since God made Adam. It is a continuation of that same faith.

Nice and concise answer. Thanks for such a brief and thorough post on the development of architecture in early Christianity.

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I am merely asking since Jesus did not use an iconostasis nor the apostles why do we?

Do you realise Jesus is God and He doesn't need anything?

Really? He needed to learn, eat, breath, move, etc. This statement seems close to denying the humanity of Jesus.