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Author Topic: St.John the Baptist  (Read 2152 times) Average Rating: 0
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Shiloah
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« on: September 04, 2004, 10:03:55 PM »

In our church we have an icon of St.John the Baptist on which he is written with  large wings. Can anybody tell me what this means?

I found some explanations as follows:
"In the icon, you will see the Prophet with the wings of an angel. The wings speak of St. John as a
message-bearer. As he said of himself, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight
the way of the Lord," thereby announcing the coming of the Incarnate God. The wings further direct
us to the life of a man who lived like a terrestrial angel or a celestial man. Through this vision, we see
clearly why Herod was afraid of John. One should be in dread of a messenger of the Lord. God
sent angels and messengers to make visible to earthly eyes the holiness of God, Whom "no man may
see and live" (Ex. 33:20). The conical rocks in the Forerunner's icon tell of his detachment from the
world, of a man pure and unspotted by the world. "
http://www.balamand.edu.lb/theology/feastbeheadingjohn.htm

"The representation of the Baptist with wings is inspired by the Gospels, where Christ calls John 'messenger' ([ARABIC TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Gospel according to St Matthew, Chapter XI, verse 10; Gospel according to St Mark, Chapter 1, verse 2), repeating the prophecy in Malachi, Chapter III, verse 1, which is also found in Exodus, Chapter XXIII, verse 20 and Chapter XXXII, verse 34. (18) A number of Church Fathers deliberated at length on John's nature, debating whether he was an incarnated angel or simply Christ's messenger and forerunner. (19) But while the Orthodox church, for the most part, was willing to accept John's similarity to angels and their nature, as is demonstrated, for example, by a passage from the writings of Sophronios (560-638), who was Patriarch of Jerusalem between 634 and 638, (20) western ecclesiastical authorities tended to regard this view as heretical." http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0PAL/is_501_158/ai_110735911/pg_2
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0PAL/is_501_158/ai_110735911

"The icon of St. John the Forerunner (St. John the Baptist) was written by the hand of iconographer Wayne Hajos, of the Orthodox Church of St. Matthew in Columbia, MD. The icon is a copy of a Russian icon titled "Angel of the Desert."

St. John the Baptist is sometimes depicted (as here) with angel's wings to demonstrate his role as a messenger (see Matt. 11:10, Mark 1:2). Additionally, he is also shown here in his wilderness home (Matt. 3:1-12, Mark 1:1-8). The plate with his head alludes to his death at the hands of Herod (Matt. 14:1-12, Mark 6:14-29).

The scroll reads: "Come Ye to Christ with Faith and Be Saved."
http://www.stjohnsroch.org/iconofstjohn.html

My question is, aren't other Saints 'messengers' too? How about the Apostles? They had a message also.

Why the distinction with St.John the Baptist?



Shiloah, and thank you kindly
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« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2004, 08:40:35 AM »

My question is, aren't other Saints 'messengers' too? How about the Apostles? They had a message also.  Why the distinction with St.John the Baptist?

Well, you raise a good question, because yes, not only the apostles, but also the OT prophets were God's messengers, as Christ said in the parable of the vinedresser.  One might say that the OT prophets had even more of an "angelic" role, as they received their message from spiritual impetus which was prophetic (in the sense of the future), while the apostles were in a sense retelling something that had already happened (though this doesn't diminish their importance, obviously!).  St. John, however, is the greatest born of women as far as regards the OT prophets.  His message is seen to be THE message, or at least the culmination of all that the OT prophets had been hinting at.  These were things that, as St. Peter said, "angels long to look into"; it's only fitting, then, that the Forerunner, who directly participated in the fulfillment of these prophets' glimpses and proclaimed the fullness of their prophecies, would be seen as the "angel on earth" who (finally!) sent out the message of the at-last-present Kingdom to all who would hear.
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« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2004, 04:42:18 PM »

An interesting and thoughtful question, Pedro, I shall keep up with the thread and learn from it.......
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« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2004, 05:18:16 PM »

John the Baptist has wings so that he can fly around and find his head, which the Orthodox Church seems to be in the habit of losing frequently.
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Shiloah
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« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2004, 09:12:20 PM »

The best answer I found as of  yet is from a webpage at http://www.orthodoxengland.btinternet.co.uk/sermnfjb.htm

from which I quote;


"Their son, the Baptist John, thus came to be called 'the Forerunner of Christ', a star compared to Christ, the Sun of Righteousness. Our Lord Himself called him the greatest born of women. Thus in the Church he has become the particular patron of monks and is called an earthly angel and a heavenly man. This is why in icons which portray him, he is shown as having wings. These are not of course physical wings, they are the spiritual wings of the dove, of one who prays unceasingly, which is the task of all, but especially of those in the monastic life.

The Holy Baptist stands at the very end of the Old Testament, but also at the very beginning of the New Testament. That is why he appears at the beginning of the Gospels. He opens up a new way and answers in a new way the old question which people have posed from ancient times and which I gave at the beginning of this sermon: 'What is the purpose of life?' John the Baptist who never married, who remained a virgin, who prophesied, tells us that the purpose of life is to be spiritually fruitful. This is his prophetic revelation to us. Whether we are called to marriage and having children or not, we are called to bring forth spiritual fruit, to improve the world and not to worsen it, to be fruitful, and not to be barren, as his parents had been."

I think that is really beautiful, don't you?

Shiloah, just imagining St.John the Baptist ....

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« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2004, 09:17:40 PM »

John the Baptist has wings so that he can fly around and find his head, which the Orthodox Church seems to be in the habit of losing frequently.

 :rofl:  Love it!
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« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2004, 11:30:20 PM »

Obviously, he drinks Red Bull.
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« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2004, 11:49:28 AM »


"In the icon, you will see the Prophet with the wings of an angel. The wings speak of St. John as a
message-bearer. As he said of himself, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight
the way of the Lord," thereby announcing the coming of the Incarnate God. The wings further direct
us to the life of a man who lived like a terrestrial angel or a celestial man. Through this vision, we see
clearly why Herod was afraid of John. One should be in dread of a messenger of the Lord. God
sent angels and messengers to make visible to earthly eyes the holiness of God, Whom "no man may
see and live" (Ex. 33:20). The conical rocks in the Forerunner's icon tell of his detachment from the
world, of a man pure and unspotted by the world. "


This is the basic explanation.  I would expand a little and point out that not only is St. John referred to as a 'Mal'ak' or 'Angelos' in the text, which are the words translated as both 'Angel' and 'Messenger', but this description also points to St. John as the one who most perfectly lived the 'angelic life', i.e. monasticism.  Also, a common belief among the Church Fathers was that the number of those to be saved is identical to the number of angels who fell, and so there is a tradition that St. John was given the position of honor that was vacated by Satan when he fell.

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Shiloah
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« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2004, 09:56:52 PM »

Thank you very much, John, for your most thoughtworthy addition to this topic. I had closed it to prevent a continuing of  the disrespectful discours .

What a thought! St.John the Baptist certainly is a borderliner between two worlds.
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« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2004, 01:46:29 AM »

Also, a common belief among the Church Fathers was that the number of those to be saved is identical to the number of angels who fell, and so there is a tradition that St. John was given the position of honor that was vacated by Satan when he fell.

My understanding is that it is the monastics who are taking the places of the angels that fell. Some believe that when that number is complete, it will herald the Second Coming of our Lord. Also, regarding the position of honour, the church answers the question the disciples asked regarding who would sit as Jesus left and right hand in His kingdom. Those places are given to John the Forerunner and the Theotokos respectively, which can be seen on the iconostasis in the majority of Orthodox churches.

John.
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