As all Orthodox icons, the icon of Pentecost is chuck-full of symbolism.
I understand and appreciate each one of the icons below, for what they depict, and am not claiming either one is "wrong".
The background for my inquiry stems from a long and convoluted email "discussion" going on between two jurisdictions of Orthodox Churches. The discussion has finally degenerated to picking at each other's preference of iconography.
I've seen all the below versions, and never had an "issue" with either one.
I was taught that the "correct" version depicts the 12 Apostles with the tongues of fire, and King Cosmos sitting in the dark, representing sinful humanity (sitting in the dark), who sits displaying 12 scrolls - the wisdom bestowed upon and shared by the 12 Apostles. They sit in a circle to reinforce that neither one is "better" or has gotten more grace from God, but, all are equal. In the middle, the spot is empty, and reserved for the "Head" of the Church - Christ.
There are also icons with the Mother of God depicted on them, sitting among the Twelve. I understand that most likely she was present at the event, and have no issue with that fact. However, often when she is on the icon, Cosmos is not.
Additionally, she is depicted sitting in the center, the spot reserved for Christ.
Then there are those with the Theotokos and Cosmos.
So, the email conversation seems to be hinging upon the fact that if you display an icon without the Mother of God depicted on it, than you are a traitor, etc.
Can anyone explain the history behind the various icons?
Do some ethnicities, jurisdictions, Churches, etc. prefer one over the other? If so, why?