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Author Topic: Icons, hand sign gestures, and natures  (Read 3641 times) Average Rating: 0
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Suryoyutho
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« on: August 31, 2012, 04:03:08 AM »

If you read about icons and the hand gestures (teaching, blessing, or however many there are) on Eastern Orthodox and Catholic sites they always write that two fingers together or two fingers up or something has something to do with the two natures thing. Is that just something they say today to explain it or does it have some historical base? Like, do we know for sure all the symbols behind the hand gesture in the Pantocrator in Mount Sinai for example?

For example this article: http://iconreader.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/what-does-this-hand-gesture-mean-in-icons/

Quote
The three fingers of Christ – as well as spelling out “I” and “X” – confess the Tri-unity of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The touching finger and thumb of Jesus not only spell out “C”, but attest to the Incarnation: to the joining of divine and human natures found in the body of Jesus Christ.

This one for example (it's a Coptic one, from the Father Lazarus documentary):

« Last Edit: August 31, 2012, 04:05:09 AM by Suryoyutho » Logged

The Tur Abdin Timeline - A timeline of Tur Abdin (Syriac for "the Mountain of the Servants [of God]"), the heartland of the Syriac Orthodox Christians, a hilly region located in upper Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and Euphrates.
dzheremi
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« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2012, 04:16:59 AM »

I've heard that before, but I once attended a talk on church iconography at an OCA church in California and the priest said that the two-finger sign that you see Christ making in their icons actually comes from the method of addressing the Roman senate so that people will listen to you. So it's like a shorthand for "Shut up, I have something important to say" that later developed theological significance to distinguish themselves from the non-Chalcedonians.
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Suryoyutho
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« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2012, 04:22:06 AM »

Thank you! So Coptic icons don't have the two-finger sign? Isn't the image I posted the same hand gesture?

The pantocrator is three-finger (teaching gesture?) I believe. http://www.katapi.org.uk/images/Art/ChristPantocrator-Sinai.jpg
« Last Edit: August 31, 2012, 04:23:11 AM by Suryoyutho » Logged

The Tur Abdin Timeline - A timeline of Tur Abdin (Syriac for "the Mountain of the Servants [of God]"), the heartland of the Syriac Orthodox Christians, a hilly region located in upper Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and Euphrates.
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« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2012, 04:39:24 AM »

I'm not sure if you can say none of them do. Look at this 12th century Coptic icon:



But a lot of Coptic icons I have seen have the one-finger gesture, like this:



I'm pretty sure the icons in my church are all like the second type, and if I had to guess, it's a manner of making the icon to conform to our Christology just as the Byzantines infused what was apparently originally a secular gesture with theological meaning according to their Christology. Just an idea. I welcome correction, since I don't really know much about iconography (that's why I went to the OCA talk in the first place).

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Suryoyutho
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« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2012, 05:07:51 AM »

Thank you again. That's actually what I thought writing this thread. That those explanations were added later to conform to their Christology.

It's kinda like me saying today that the Pantocrator I linked to: that the two bent fingers are Christ's true Divinity and true Humanity which were united into one essence. And after that union he only had one united nature (the thumb)...Or something (I hope I wrote that Miaphysitically correct =P). But that doesn't mean that the gesture meant that 1500 years ago.

Also looking for more replies.
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The Tur Abdin Timeline - A timeline of Tur Abdin (Syriac for "the Mountain of the Servants [of God]"), the heartland of the Syriac Orthodox Christians, a hilly region located in upper Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and Euphrates.
Suryoyutho
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« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2012, 07:52:51 AM »

What sign exactly do the priests use when they bless us btw?
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The Tur Abdin Timeline - A timeline of Tur Abdin (Syriac for "the Mountain of the Servants [of God]"), the heartland of the Syriac Orthodox Christians, a hilly region located in upper Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and Euphrates.
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