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Author Topic: Icons and the Old Testament  (Read 1356 times) Average Rating: 0
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Trebor135
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« on: August 27, 2013, 04:50:02 AM »

An Evangelical acquaintance--who emphasized that he is not aiming to be antagonistic--has asked me to explain how the use of icons does not constitute idolatry and violate the second commandment in Exodus 20:4-6. His interest has prompted me to investigate the issue further.

Often brought up to give Old Testament support for this controversial practice are the divinely-commanded placement of two cherubim on the mercy seat, the construction of the salutary bronze snake in the middle of the camp, and the decoration with images of Solomon's temple. These comparisons seem to fall far short of what is required, however; it seems highly unlikely to me that the Israelites were in fact venerating angels while prostrating before the special vessel of God's presence. Did the Hebrews ever believe in and practice something resembling what is found in Orthodox Christianity?

Further, the incident surrounding the golden calf--recounted in Exodus chapter 32, but without the degree of clarity that I was hoping for--seems to cast the use of icons in a profoundly negative light. The description of this sorry event is presented below, taken from the RSV, with my emphasis added.

[1] When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron, and said to him, "Up, make us gods, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him."
[2] And Aaron said to them, "Take off the rings of gold which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me."
[3] So all the people took off the rings of gold which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron.
[4] And he received the gold at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made a molten calf; and they said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!"
[5] When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, "Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD."
[6] And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

If the Hebrews were turning en masse to worshipping a false god, rather than reverencing Yahweh in an improper manner, why would they connect the golden calf with the being who had engineered their deliverance from captivity in Egypt, the invisible figure with whom Moses had been conversing?
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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2013, 10:39:11 AM »

The Israelites sin was attempting to make a mortal image of the invisible God.  If someone were to try to make an icon today and painted God the Father as a cow, that would be equally blasphemous.  There are strict rules for icons for a reason, they transmit doctrine. LBK would be better at explaining this than I, but if we start putting our own interpretation into icons, they can easily become idols and images of false gods.

Veneration is just a form of respect.  They may not have kissed the images, but they were bowing before them while their worship is directed towards God.  When we bow or venerate an icon, worship is still being directed towards God.
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« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2013, 11:48:02 AM »

The Israelites sin was attempting to make a mortal image of the invisible God.  If someone were to try to make an icon today and painted God the Father as a cow, that would be equally blasphemous.  There are strict rules for icons for a reason, they transmit doctrine. LBK would be better at explaining this than I, but if we start putting our own interpretation into icons, they can easily become idols and images of false gods.

OK, the concept makes sense in theory, but how do we know that depicting Christ and the Holy Spirit after the incarnation has become acceptable in practice? Christ never spoke on the matter in the way that he made all foods unclean. Further, there is little to no testimony in the earliest centuries of Christianity for the veneration of icons, as far as I am aware. Pictorial representations of important figures or events in Christianity have been found in the catacombs, but it is impossible to know whether they were only decorative and instructive or also given veneration.

Finally, if creating an icon of the Father is not permissible, how is it that depicting the trinity is acceptable?

Quote
Veneration is just a form of respect.  They may not have kissed the images, but they were bowing before them while their worship is directed towards God.  When we bow or venerate an icon, worship is still being directed towards God.

I was under the impression that we use icons not to worship God but as conduits by which to show respect to those portrayed therein.
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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2013, 12:32:23 PM »

Sigh. There we go again.

In short: We do not go by Sola Scriptura. Just because something is not explicitly mentioned in Scripture doesn't mean it can't be accurate.

In long:
http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/icon_bowing.aspx
http://orthodoxinfo.com/general/orth_icon.aspx
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« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2013, 12:46:50 PM »

Deuteronomy 4:11-19
And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness. And the LORD spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice. And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone. And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it. Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.

That was Mosaic Covenant. But now we came to mount Sion (Hebrews 12), God showed us His face in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6, John 14:8-11), God in the flesh was heard, seen, looked upon, handled (1 John 1). Prohibition of depicting God looses it's foundations at the moment of Christ's incarnation and revelation to the world - Son of God was seen as Son of Man.  As they say - what has been seen, can't be unseen.
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« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2013, 12:48:29 PM »

One of my problems coming from Protestantism, was not knowing the difference between veneration and worship. More importantly, I didn't even know what worship is.  My past experiences never included kissing or prostrating in worship, so how could I accuse Christians who venerate icons of worshipping idols?  There's a severe disconnect in this matter.  
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« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2013, 07:51:02 PM »


OK, the concept makes sense in theory, but how do we know that depicting Christ and the Holy Spirit after the incarnation has become acceptable in practice?

St John of Damascus sums it up very well:

Of old, the incorporeal and uncircumscribed God was not depicted at all. But now that God has appeared in the flesh and lived among men, I make an image of the God who can be seen. I do not worship matter, but I worship the Creator of matter, who through matter effected my salvation. I will not cease to venerate the matter through which my salvation has been effected.

I would like to address all the points you made in your posts, but I only have time for this for now. I shall return.  Wink

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« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2013, 09:39:10 PM »

Sigh. There we go again.

In short: We do not go by Sola Scriptura. Just because something is not explicitly mentioned in Scripture doesn't mean it can't be accurate.

I completely deny sola scriptura as a valid doctrine and consider it probably the most damaging of any bad idea put forward in the past five hundred years of Christian history. Rest assured that, if the opportunity presents itself, I will press the matter with my Evangelical acquaintance.

However, I have always found that the claim of the incarnation allowing the people of God to make a 180-degree turn regarding the use of physical objects in worship was never really argued, merely asserted.

Quote

The first article raises some points I've thought of or read before, but it is the most thorough and well-argued treatment of the issue to be brought to my attention. The second article does not seem quite what I would have sought, but I'll have to give it a closer look.
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« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2013, 09:55:04 PM »

One of my problems coming from Protestantism, was not knowing the difference between veneration and worship. More importantly, I didn't even know what worship is.  My past experiences never included kissing or prostrating in worship, so how could I accuse Christians who venerate icons of worshipping idols?  There's a severe disconnect in this matter.  

I can definitely relate. I was brought up a Latin Catholic, but never venerated statues or icons (my family wasn't all that devout anyway). I never really understood what the precise nature of the "Hail Mary" was, but still said the prayer.

It was only when I went away to university that I encountered Protestant accusations of idolatry. Thanks to my own reading (at this site included), I understand and can articulate the difference between worship and veneration where people are concerned, but not so much in terms of objects. Thanks be to God that I was not lured into an Evangelical group all the while accepting falsehood, perhaps even spreading slander, about the faith of others.
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« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2013, 11:22:34 PM »

However, I have always found that the claim of the incarnation allowing the people of God to make a 180-degree turn regarding the use of physical objects in worship was never really argued, merely asserted.


I'm afraid this is not the case. There were two major iconoclastic periods, in the eighth and ninth centuries, where this matter was indeed argued, not simply asserted. St John of Damascus and St John of the Studion were at the forefront of the defense of iconography, and they were not alone. The arguments of the iconophiles can also be used for veneration of other holy objects such as crosses, Gospel books, etc.
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« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2013, 11:51:17 PM »


Christ never spoke on the matter in the way that he made all foods unclean.

He didn't need to. We have the testimony of St Peter's vision, and the unwavering Church's teaching that the Incarnation and all that has flowed from it has redeemed all creation. See the quote by St John of Damascus I posted earlier.

Further, there is little to no testimony in the earliest centuries of Christianity for the veneration of icons, as far as I am aware. Pictorial representations of important figures or events in Christianity have been found in the catacombs, but it is impossible to know whether they were only decorative and instructive or also given veneration.


The earliest icon, made by Christ Himself, was the Mandylion, an image of His face miraculously imprinted on a cloth which He had pressed to His face. The ancients well understood the idea of an image representing the person depicted on it. Christ certainly did, in Matthew 22:

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. 16 And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. 17 Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? 19 Show Me the tax money.”

So they brought Him a denarius.

20 And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”

21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”

And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”


The earliest Christians conducted the Eucharist on the graves of martyrs, so the idea of the holiness of relics was there right from the start. This practice continues to this day, in the form of incorporating holy relics into the altar of an Orthodox church when it is consecrated.
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« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2013, 12:03:19 AM »


Finally, if creating an icon of the Father is not permissible, how is it that depicting the trinity is acceptable?


The three strangers at the Oak of Mamre are a prefiguration, a manifestation, a type and shadow of the Holy Trinity. None of the figures have names inscribed to them, and neither should they. St Andrei of Radonezh (Andrei Rublyev) took the existing icon of The Hospitality of Abraham, and painted an expression of theology which would take a book or two to express in words.

God the Father did not become incarnate. The Holy Spirit did not become incarnate, but has become visible in certain visible forms at specific times, such as a dove at Christ's Baptism, the cloud of uncreated light at Christ's transfiguration, and the tongues of fire which descended on the disciples at Pentecost.

Only Christ became incarnate, fully God and fully Man. Therefore, we are not only permitted to portray Him as such, but are commanded to do so, to express the fullness of His revelation. The fatal mistake of the iconoclasts was, in their hatred of icons and their veneration, they were denying the incarnation of God. At its core and essence, their heresy was Christological.
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« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2013, 12:23:20 AM »

If the Hebrews were turning en masse to worshipping a false god, rather than reverencing Yahweh in an improper manner, why would they connect the golden calf with the being who had engineered their deliverance from captivity in Egypt, the invisible figure with whom Moses had been conversing?

IMO it's identifying YHWH with one or more of the dead gods. They would have been familiar with that sort of thing.


(Statue of Hathor)

It's also important to understand that ancient near eastern people actually thought the statues were their gods. The statue was how the god existed. In fact, it was believed that if the statue were stolen, the god would be taken away or change favor to the new owner.
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« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2013, 08:12:56 AM »

Quote
It's also important to understand that ancient near eastern people actually thought the statues were their gods. The statue was how the god existed. In fact, it was believed that if the statue were stolen, the god would be taken away or change favor to the new owner.
Do you have any supports for this?  I'm not questioning it, but I am interested in learning more.  I have sometimes wondered about the difference of perspectives between our view of icons and the the ancients view of idols, and you bring up a very interesting point here.
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« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2013, 02:19:40 AM »

However, I have always found that the claim of the incarnation allowing the people of God to make a 180-degree turn regarding the use of physical objects in worship was never really argued, merely asserted.


I'm afraid this is not the case. There were two major iconoclastic periods, in the eighth and ninth centuries, where this matter was indeed argued, not simply asserted. St John of Damascus and St John of the Studion were at the forefront of the defense of iconography, and they were not alone. The arguments of the iconophiles can also be used for veneration of other holy objects such as crosses, Gospel books, etc.

To clarify, when I wrote "I have always found", I meant in my experience reading online--not on the level of history.
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« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2013, 02:25:03 AM »

However, I have always found that the claim of the incarnation allowing the people of God to make a 180-degree turn regarding the use of physical objects in worship was never really argued, merely asserted.


I'm afraid this is not the case. There were two major iconoclastic periods, in the eighth and ninth centuries, where this matter was indeed argued, not simply asserted. St John of Damascus and St John of the Studion were at the forefront of the defense of iconography, and they were not alone. The arguments of the iconophiles can also be used for veneration of other holy objects such as crosses, Gospel books, etc.

To clarify, when I wrote "I have always found", I meant in my experience reading online--not on the level of history.

Thanks for the clarification.

In light of this, it's highly likely the "assertion, not argument" approach you found was because the Church finally and definitively sorted out the "problem" of the veneration of icons and other holy things more than 1200 years ago, and a good 600 years before the iconoclasm of the Reformation appeared.
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« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2013, 02:35:18 AM »


Christ never spoke on the matter in the way that he made all foods unclean.

He didn't need to. We have the testimony of St Peter's vision,

St. Peter's vision confirmed what Christ had said--recorded in, e.g., St. Mark's Gospel--about no foods being unclean. That vision did not include religious pictures. Tongue (Though it would not have been necessary, as the major figures portrayed in icons today--the mother of God and the apostles--were still alive.)

Quote
and the unwavering Church's teaching that the Incarnation and all that has flowed from it has redeemed all creation. See the quote by St John of Damascus I posted earlier.

But was the second commandment really handed down because God "[had not] redeemed all creation" yet?

And I wish we could find some quotes from ante-Nicene fathers speaking of icon veneration specifically. St. John of Damascus is very late, being from the seventh century.

Quote
Further, there is little to no testimony in the earliest centuries of Christianity for the veneration of icons, as far as I am aware. Pictorial representations of important figures or events in Christianity have been found in the catacombs, but it is impossible to know whether they were only decorative and instructive or also given veneration.


The earliest icon, made by Christ Himself, was the Mandylion, an image of His face miraculously imprinted on a cloth which He had pressed to His face.

Intriguing. What sources from the earliest days of Christianity state that this piece of cloth was treated as an icon?

Quote
The ancients well understood the idea of an image representing the person depicted on it. Christ certainly did, in Matthew 22:

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. 16 And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. 17 Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? 19 Show Me the tax money.”

So they brought Him a denarius.

20 And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”

21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”

And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Hmm, interesting subtle connection here.

Quote
The earliest Christians conducted the Eucharist on the graves of martyrs, so the idea of the holiness of relics was there right from the start. This practice continues to this day, in the form of incorporating holy relics into the altar of an Orthodox church when it is consecrated.

Also intriguing, though it is not the same thing as icon veneration. Where can we read more about this practice?
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« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2013, 02:42:24 AM »

The three strangers at the Oak of Mamre are a prefiguration, a manifestation, a type and shadow of the Holy Trinity. None of the figures have names inscribed to them, and neither should they. St Andrei of Radonezh (Andrei Rublyev) took the existing icon of The Hospitality of Abraham, and painted an expression of theology which would take a book or two to express in words.

God the Father did not become incarnate. The Holy Spirit did not become incarnate, but has become visible in certain visible forms at specific times, such as a dove at Christ's Baptism, the cloud of uncreated light at Christ's transfiguration, and the tongues of fire which descended on the disciples at Pentecost.

Only Christ became incarnate, fully God and fully Man. Therefore, we are not only permitted to portray Him as such, but are commanded to do so, to express the fullness of His revelation. The fatal mistake of the iconoclasts was, in their hatred of icons and their veneration, they were denying the incarnation of God. At its core and essence, their heresy was Christological.

Ahh, thanks for all the clarifications (also, the incident with Abraham had slipped my mind, and I see the misuse of the term incarnation). My remaining struggle with understanding icon veneration involves not depiction of Christ or saints but the way in which we interact with those pictures.
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« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2013, 02:48:41 AM »

If the Hebrews were turning en masse to worshipping a false god, rather than reverencing Yahweh in an improper manner, why would they connect the golden calf with the being who had engineered their deliverance from captivity in Egypt, the invisible figure with whom Moses had been conversing?

IMO it's identifying YHWH with one or more of the dead gods. They would have been familiar with that sort of thing.

So, you do think the Israelites were changing allegiance, even if inadvertently? That seems possible.

Quote
It's also important to understand that ancient near eastern people actually thought the statues were their gods. The statue was how the god existed. In fact, it was believed that if the statue were stolen, the god would be taken away or change favor to the new owner.

Fascinating. Do you have any scholarly source(s) I could point my acquaintance to in support of this information?
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« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2013, 03:05:23 AM »

Quote
St. Peter's vision confirmed what Christ had said--recorded in, e.g., St. Mark's Gospel--about no foods being unclean. That vision did not include religious pictures.  Tongue (Though it would not have been necessary, as the major figures portrayed in icons today--the mother of God and the apostles--were still alive.)

You answered your own question there.  Wink To this day, icons are painted of those whose earthly lives have ended, not of those still alive on earth.

St Peter's vision is also interpreted by the Church more broadly, as confirming the Gentiles as equally deserving of salvation through Christ as the Jews, who were chosen and set apart by God in the OT period.

Quote
But was the second commandment really handed down because God "[had not] redeemed all creation" yet?

Creation was fallen, through the disobedience of Adam and Eve. Its redemption required a new Adam (Christ), and a new Eve (the Mother of God, whose obedience in accepting the monumental and incomprehensible task of bearing God in the flesh annulled Eve's disobedience).

Quote
And I wish we could find some quotes from ante-Nicene fathers speaking of icon veneration specifically. St. John of Damascus is very late, being from the seventh century.

St John of Damascus quotes copiously from earlier fathers. Have you read his treatise In Defense of the Holy Images? Here's a link to it:

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/johndamascus-images.asp

Quote
Intriguing. What sources from the earliest days of Christianity state that this piece of cloth was treated as an icon?

St John is just one saint who attests to it, as do others who greatly preceded him. The purpose of the cloth was to be sent to King Abgar, who had requested that Christ come to visit him to heal him of a serious skin disease. The Lord was not able to go there in person, but, instead, made the image, and asked that it be sent to the king. The Synaxarion is a collection of lives of saints, and of accounts of feasts, which is read during Matins, at least in most monasteries. Here is the selection for the feast of the Mandylion, commemorated on August 16:

When our Lord and great God and Savior Jesus Christ was, in His goodness, working many wonders, as it is recorded in the sacred Gospels, and when His reputation was spreading everywhere, Abgar the Ruler of Edessa heard of them and wanted to see Jesus Christ with his own eyes, but was unable to do so because he was suffering from incurable diseases. For a black leprosy had burst out over all his body and had consumed him, for this reason he was unapproachable and unseen for all his subjects.

Around the time of the Passion of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, he wrote a letter and sent it by a certain Ananias, ordering him to depict with absolute accuracy His height, His hair and His face, and in short his whole bodily appearance, and to bring him the form of Christ; for Ananias was a skilled painter.

The letter was as follows, word for word:

Abgar, Ruler of the city of Edessa, to Jesus Saviour, the good physician, who has appeared in Jerusalem, greeting!

I have heard about You and about Your cures, which are done by You without drugs; for example You make the blind see again; You make the lame walk; You cleanse lepers; You drive out unclean spirits; You heal those who have been tormented by disease over long periods. Having heard all this of You I had one of two ideas: either that You are Son of God, who does these things, or that You are God. So then I write to You and ask You to come to me to cure the suffering I have, and then to be with me; for I have also heard that the Jews murmur against You and wish to do you ill. My city is very small but distinguished and adequate for both of us to live here in peace.


Ananias left for Jerusalem, and having given the letter to the Lord he gazed intently at Him, but, since he was unable to get near Him because of the surging crowd, he climbed up onto a small outcrop of rock and at once began to move his eyes while pressing his hand to the paper, and he began to copy the appearance of what he saw, but he was quite unable to capture His form because it appeared now with one now with another appearance and with differing aspect. But the Lord, who knows what is hidden and searches hearts, knowing his intention, revealed what was happening secretly. For He asked to wash, and while doing so he was given a cloth folded in four, and when He had washed, He wiped His most pure and divine face with it. Thus His divine form and appearance were imprinted — O the wonder! — on the cloth. This He gave to Ananias saying, Go, give this back to him who sent you’. He also gave him a letter in the following terms,

Blessed are you, Abgar, who have believed in Me, though you have not seen Me. For it is written of Me that those who have seen Me do not believe in Me so that those who have not seen Me may believe and live. As to what you wrote about My coming to you, it is necessary that I accomplish all that I was sent out to do and, after I have accomplished it, to be taken up to the Father who sent Me. And when I have been taken up I will send you one of My Disciples, named Thaddaeus. He will heal your disease and grant you and those with you eternal life and peace, and he will make your city such that no enemy can prevail against it.

At the end He fixed seven seals in Hebrew letters, which when translated mean, Picture of God Divine wonder. [In Greek a play on words: Theou thea theion thavma]

Abgar received Ananias with great joy and fell down and venerated the Holy and most pure Icon of the Lord with faith and much love, and he was instantly healed of his disease. Only a small patch of leprosy remained on his forehead. After the saving passion of Christ and His ascension into heaven the Apostle Thaddaeus reached Edessa and brought Abgar and all those under him to the font, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. When Abgar came out of the water he had been cleansed of the small remaining trace of leprosy.

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« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2013, 03:12:36 AM »


Ahh, thanks for all the clarifications (also, the incident with Abraham had slipped my mind, and I see the misuse of the term incarnation). My remaining struggle with understanding icon veneration involves not depiction of Christ or saints but the way in which we interact with those pictures.

Have you ever looked lovingly at a photograph of a distant or deceased loved one? Have you ever kissed a photo of your beloved during his/her absence? How do you feel when the flag of your nation is hoisted? Do you salute it? Many a sportsman the world over will kiss the medal or trophy bestowed on him when he wins a race, a match, or a tournament.

Are such acts the worship of paper and ink, or dye and cloth, or molded metal or glass? Food for thought.
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« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2013, 11:44:39 PM »

Fascinating. Do you have any scholarly source(s) I could point my acquaintance to in support of this information?
Check out the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, especially the laments.

http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/cgi-bin/etcsl.cgi?text=t.2.2.3#

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« Reply #22 on: August 30, 2013, 08:48:07 AM »

Quote
It's also important to understand that ancient near eastern people actually thought the statues were their gods. The statue was how the god existed. In fact, it was believed that if the statue were stolen, the god would be taken away or change favor to the new owner.
Fascinating. Do you have any scholarly source(s) I could point my acquaintance to in support of this information?
Isaiah 46.
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« Reply #23 on: August 30, 2013, 08:57:55 AM »

Quote
It's also important to understand that ancient near eastern people actually thought the statues were their gods. The statue was how the god existed. In fact, it was believed that if the statue were stolen, the god would be taken away or change favor to the new owner.
Fascinating. Do you have any scholarly source(s) I could point my acquaintance to in support of this information?
Isaiah 46.

There is also the well-known Egyptian Legend of Khensu-Nefer-Hetep and the Princess of Bekhten.
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« Reply #24 on: August 30, 2013, 12:45:54 PM »

Thanks for the clarification.

Glad to be of service. (Oh no, I must be worshipping you... Tongue )

Quote
In light of this, it's highly likely the "assertion, not argument" approach you found was because the Church finally and definitively sorted out the "problem" of the veneration of icons and other holy things more than 1200 years ago, and a good 600 years before the iconoclasm of the Reformation appeared.

Perhaps, but it is still a key point to be defended when the use of icons is under fire.

Plus, iconoclasm is still alive and kicking. Please see the following for what appears a strong case:

1) "John of Damascus on Holy Images Refuted Part 1"

http://drakeshelton.com/2012/04/17/john-of-damascus-on-holy-images-refuted-part-1/

and

2) "John of Damascus on Holy Images Refuted Part 2"

http://drakeshelton.com/2012/04/21/1735/
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« Reply #25 on: August 30, 2013, 01:32:40 PM »

How is that a strong case?  Huh

I don't find a single point there that hasn't been exhaustively dealt with by Orthodox theologians.  The authors has a flawed understanding of what worship vs veneration is and it is reflected in his diatribe there.

As an aside, it is difficult to take someone seriously that has his blog link to advocates for seccession from the US, conspiracy theories about the Vatican and some silly nonsense about how there is an "Anti-WASP race war" going on.  Roll Eyes

I also like his opener:
Quote
This work by John of Damascus is foundational to the Anchoretic rejection of the Protestant Reformation. If Isaac Taylor ripped out the heart of the Anchoretic system with his Ancient Christianity, I will, through Calvin, Owen, Gillespie, and Bishop Hall, rip out its brain for all the world to see its hemorrhaged and cancerous state. If Damascus’ book falls, we from the Puritan Reformed tradition stand vindicated in our bitterness against a world of Christianity in rebellion.  We will await an international apology from the Eastern Orthodox, Romanist, Anglican, Lutheran and Anabaptist Churches.

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« Reply #26 on: August 30, 2013, 01:38:57 PM »

Looking at that blog more, I think you will see the tragic results of his theology.

This was posted August 7, 2013

Quote
I am going to leave my blog up but I am not going to be writing much anymore. The journey to reach the conclusions I have come to reach has been one of intense mental and emotional anguish. I work out 5 days a week. I rarely drink alcohol. I don’t smoke tobacco. I rarely take caffeine and my blood pressure flirts with 165/90 on a regular basis. For the sake of my health, I can’t do this anymore. Life turned out to be more f-d up than I ever imagined. If I continue to travel down this rabbit hole I might just have a heart attack and/or loose my mind. I have spent the last 14 years trying to obey and figure out what the Bible means and it has cost me my woman, every friend I have had since I was a child, my scholarship for college, my back, and any chance to have a family and a career.  I have written about 13 books and I don’t get paid to do this. I have a complete theory on just about every issue that pertains to human philosophy. I think that is a sufficient search for the truth and I believe I have found the organization that I belong in. I hope the best for you my readers

I hope he will open his heart up and explore the true nature of the Church and let it heal his anguish.
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« Reply #27 on: August 30, 2013, 01:51:06 PM »

Looking at that blog more, I think you will see the tragic results of his theology.

This was posted August 7, 2013

Quote
I am going to leave my blog up but I am not going to be writing much anymore. The journey to reach the conclusions I have come to reach has been one of intense mental and emotional anguish. I work out 5 days a week. I rarely drink alcohol. I don’t smoke tobacco. I rarely take caffeine and my blood pressure flirts with 165/90 on a regular basis. For the sake of my health, I can’t do this anymore. Life turned out to be more f-d up than I ever imagined. If I continue to travel down this rabbit hole I might just have a heart attack and/or loose my mind. I have spent the last 14 years trying to obey and figure out what the Bible means and it has cost me my woman, every friend I have had since I was a child, my scholarship for college, my back, and any chance to have a family and a career.  I have written about 13 books and I don’t get paid to do this. I have a complete theory on just about every issue that pertains to human philosophy. I think that is a sufficient search for the truth and I believe I have found the organization that I belong in. I hope the best for you my readers

I hope he will open his heart up and explore the true nature of the Church and let it heal his anguish.

That's heartbreaking.  I hope I don't come across as harsh, but sola scriptura will lead to even more confusion.  Skimming through his blog, it seems as if he felt the need to interpret just about everything.  Lord, have mercy.  I hope he gets better.

EDIT:  From his site where he cites himself a lot on why he's not Orthodox:

https://sites.google.com/a/thekingsparlor.com/the-kings-parlor/concerning-orthodoxy/41-reasons-why-i-am-not-eastern-orthodox-by-drake
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« Reply #28 on: August 30, 2013, 02:02:39 PM »

There is also the well-known Egyptian Legend of Khensu-Nefer-Hetep and the Princess of Bekhten.
Okay, now we've got to get you into an OC.net chat sometime. You've got some interesting stuff.
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« Reply #29 on: August 30, 2013, 09:38:48 PM »

Thanks for the clarification.

Glad to be of service. (Oh no, I must be worshipping you... Tongue )

Quote
In light of this, it's highly likely the "assertion, not argument" approach you found was because the Church finally and definitively sorted out the "problem" of the veneration of icons and other holy things more than 1200 years ago, and a good 600 years before the iconoclasm of the Reformation appeared.

Perhaps, but it is still a key point to be defended when the use of icons is under fire.

Plus, iconoclasm is still alive and kicking. Please see the following for what appears a strong case:

1) "John of Damascus on Holy Images Refuted Part 1"

http://drakeshelton.com/2012/04/17/john-of-damascus-on-holy-images-refuted-part-1/

and

2) "John of Damascus on Holy Images Refuted Part 2"

http://drakeshelton.com/2012/04/21/1735/


As others have said: there will always be those who continue to reinvent the wheel. The Jehovah's witnesses are essentially Arians, the Calvinist protestants are iconoclasts, the Swedenborgians are modalists. Every heresy which Orthodoxy has dealt with has a present-day manifestation, dressed up as something new and revelatory.
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« Reply #30 on: October 20, 2013, 05:00:40 PM »

Hi all;
Being I am a recent convert to Orthodoxy I thought to comment as well.
Icons seem to be one of the issues with many converts to orthodoxy that's in with the most questioned.
While Orthodox literature is the best place to look for answers to this holy tradition,I will explain one unexpected answer that came to me as I read this literature.
And I only by the grace of god being well aware of OT contents.
First I would like to mention the most helpful thing in orthodox literature for me was the explanation that icons are "windows into heaven".
Secondly I wont go into comparisons from the Pentateuch (first 5 books of OT) because I've allready seen posts here that are a good explanation.
There was a movie called Black Hawk Down out a while back which depicted a grave humanitarian issue in Mogadishu(east Africa),and is a true story, included in this story was the plight of the American Nightstalker chopper pilot after having been shot down & captured by the enemy warlords of that area, in the midst of his capure as he lay there with many injuries and surrounded by violent children wielding assault rifles, he pulls out a photograph of his family-it gets kicked away-with boody and broken hands,he searches frantically then(fade to black)...
And this is what occured to me as I read about icons in orthodoxy- That if this man had the immediate choice of being with that photograph itself or his real family?
None the less, the photo was all he had at the time and who could blame him if he hugged & kissed that photo?
and i'll ask one more time, whats more important ,the real photo or the real family?
(WINDOWS INTO HEAVEN)
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« Reply #31 on: October 20, 2013, 05:58:41 PM »

Quote
None the less, the photo was all he had at the time and who could blame him if he hugged & kissed that photo?

Indeed. Icons are not God, but they bring us closer to God, just as a photograph of our loved ones does when they are not physically present.

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