Author Topic: Apostle Luke painted icons and a story says Jesus put his face on a napkin  (Read 18297 times)

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Offline TheTrisagion

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In that case, because he wanted to be part of the Church, shouldn't have we been a little easier with him?  Again, I don't know a lot of his posting history.  Maybe he attacked the church many times, I'm not sure.  But when someone is still learning about the faith, perhaps we need a different approach?
+100000000

I have actually gotten to know two inquirers personally who were run off here quickly by comments made towards them, but fortunately continued their interest in Orthodoxy. I know it can be somewhat eyerolling for cradles, but for people contemplating conversion, there is a ton of baggage that has to be unpacked before they can begin to understand the deepness of Orthodoxy. Certainly there are those who show up with the intention of trying to convert us to whatever weird belief system they have, but I don't think that is the majority. Most come here with an interest and I believe it is important to be as patient and understanding as possible. I wouldn't go to a Baptist forum to express my doubts in their beliefs, I would only go there if I thought there was something to it, but just needed to put it together in a way that made sense. Likewise, I think many people come here, but after asking a couple skeptical questions about icons, or women ministers, or whatever else, they unfortunately get labeled heretics and arrogant and get run out. It took me 3 years before I felt comfortable enough to say that I believed that Orthodoxy was true, and I'm sure others take longer than that.
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Offline PeterTheAleut

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In that case, because he wanted to be part of the Church, shouldn't have we been a little easier with him?
No. He didn't want to be part of the Church. He wanted to reshape the Church into his image of what it should be.

Again, I don't know a lot of his posting history.  Maybe he attacked the church many times, I'm not sure.
That's pretty accurate. He did attack the Church on many occasions.

But when someone is still learning about the faith, perhaps we need a different approach?
I'm not sure how much he really wanted to learn the faith, though. It seemed to me that he was more into arguing with the faith and telling us that we were wrong. He also thought he knew our faith well enough to present it to others and didn't like being corrected when he was wrong or encouraged to commit to learning the faith more before taking the initiative to present it to others. I doubt that Volnutt really wanted to become Orthodox except on his terms.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2015, 10:48:08 PM by PeterTheAleut »
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Offline TheTrisagion

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That is an awful lot of insight into someone's motives that I'm not sure any of us are qualified to make.
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Offline PeterTheAleut

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That is an awful lot of insight into someone's motives that I'm not sure any of us are qualified to make.
Except that his posts made his motives pretty clear.

However, this thread isn't about Volnutt. It's about certain claims pasadi97 made about King Abgar V and about St. Luke.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2015, 10:50:26 PM by PeterTheAleut »
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Offline rakovsky

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In that case, because he wanted to be part of the Church, shouldn't have we been a little easier with him?  But when someone is still learning about the faith, perhaps we need a different approach?
Yes. He was a sympathizer.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2015, 11:22:33 AM by rakovsky »
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Offline RobS

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There is no evidence that Abgar V was a Christian.

Abgar is a saint in the Orthodox Church.

Is that evidence he was Christian?

It's more evidence than we have about whether or not you're Christian.
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There is no evidence that Abgar V was a Christian.

Abgar is a saint in the Orthodox Church.

Is that evidence he was Christian?

It's more evidence than we have about whether or not you're Christian.
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Oh you Greeks, you are all dumb!

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Offline rakovsky

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I've seen the "telephone game" analogy used many times as an argument against reliance on spoken tradition, and I've never found it persuasive. The problem is that with the telephone game one is asked to rely entirely on a secret that is passed from one person to another with no reference to anyone but the person from whom you received the secret. With communal traditions, however, there is the added safeguard of cross-referencing. One can double check what one has received by cross-referencing several other people to see that the same tradition has been passed on to them, too. By cross-referencing, it is also possible for a community to fill in the gaps in each individual person's understanding of the tradition.
That's true, but you can still get minority opinions, and the minority can still be right.
Let's say that the Greeks wanted to pass down part of their history, like the Siege of Troy, but didn't use any written records. Would their account of this event 2500 years later be very reliable? I don't think so.
Written records can be forged. Try doing that with an unwritten tradition preserved and passed on by an entire culture.
It can be easier because there is no paper trail. A king's staff just decide at some point to invent something, claiming that they heard it personally and secretly from some of the past elders. Then the new story becomes part of the oral history.

Quote
You could propose that a battle at Troy probably happened, but you wouldn't be sure how many features of the battle were remembered correctly.
And why would you trust solely to written documents that may have been forged?
It's better if the written documents are passed down along with accompanying information about their history. Otherwise if a document just showed up wthat wasn't mentioned by anyone, yes it could be a forgery.

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Quote
A community committed to preserving its unwritten traditions in this way can actually preserve them with surprising accuracy for millennia.
About very broad or general claims, I think that this is true. If the people of Easter Island passed down stories orally about where they came from, the continents around them, or how they built the Moai, I think that these stories could surprise us in their accuracy, ie. that they preserved an important element of truth. But this does not mean that they would be very reliable in their details. The people of Easter Island say that the statues "walked". 1. Does that mean that they physically moved on their legs like people? 2. Or just that they were towed so that their heads stayed upright? 3. Or is the walking just a myth? Some scholars propose 2, and my guess is that this is correct. But if hundreds of years have passed, that passage of time creates a doubt.

Quote
Not only does the Church believe it has done this, but she also claims to have the Holy Spirit guiding her and working with her to preserve intact all the Tradition she has received.
When you add miracles and divine power into the equation, things become much more believable. Then you could make the argument that the story of the Russian monk riding a demon to Jerusalem and back in one night is true once it's become part of the Holy Tradition. Or really any story that appeared in the record 2500 years later could be considered transmitted accurately once it became part of Holy Tradition.
Yes, I think I could make that argument.
Yes. Once you accept the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, then any alleged fact taken up into songs and iconography and mentioned by theologians could then be treated as real.

To me, this seems to present the same practical problem as the idea of ex cathedra papal infallibility. Their idea is that the Pope could never be mistaken when speaking on behalf of the church. I don't know of any way in terms of pure logic to disprove that idea. I could say that realistically if Popes have been heretics, then we have a hard time relying on them to always be infallible when speaking ex cathedra. But when you put miracles into the mix, it becomes harder to argue with. They can claim that such and such a statement was not really ex cathedra or we understood it wrongly.

Probably a similar style of argument can be used to justify any facts that are in church tradition. If it turns out that a certain saint didn't exist according to archeologists, someone could claim that we just haven't found him yet. Or if dragons are mentioned in the Bible or in our Tradition's accounts of saints' lives, then someone can say that it's just allegorical or our archeologists just haven't found the dragon's bones or the dragon's story isn't in all the local churches' traditions. Then someone can make a similar claim about Luke being an iconographer if we got a time machine and found out he wasn't. They could say that he was an iconographer in an allegorical sense or that we just didn't catch him at the moment he made icons or there is a problem with our time machine.

Because when you believe that the Holy Tradition is miraculously and absolutely guaranteed, then as long as you can find any rational explanation, you can still use that as an explanation.

The only way I can think of to disprove this logic would be to find a time when all of the Church accepted a certain position fully and then completely changed its position.
For example, did a saint ever get "decommissioned" as a heretic after being accepted by all the churches? I doubt it. And even if something like that happened, someone could always claim that there were some people who didn't accept a heretic saint or doctrine personally, and so it was never really accepted by the "whole church".

Quote
In the case of the Russian monk, wouldn't you say that the great distance and speed, or the fact that no one recorded seeing the monk riding over it, would run counter to the event's ocurrence, even if we allow that the event did happen as Holy Tradition says?
No, I would not say that the fact that no one recorded--I assume you mean in a written document--seeing such an event would run counter to the event's occurrence, even if Holy Tradition doesn't say that such an event occurred.
OK. You do realize that evidence can run counter to an event's occurrfnce, even if the event happened?
The African leader's silence on claims of his corruption runs counter to his general claims of honesty. It could still turn out that he was noncorrupt and honest. But being silent on accusations of corruption is still at variance with one's noncorruption.

In general, when considering issues, you can have evidence that points in opposite directions. As such, the evidence is at variance. of course, only one conclusion about the facts matches reality, but the evidence can still be contrary.

So if in 1800 AD, Persian historians claimed that Alaskan Eskimos conquered Persia and occupied its main cities in 1000 AD, wouldn't the fact that in 1800 there were absolutely no references to this major event at all in any written records be at variance with the event's occurrence?

I say Yes. If Eskimos conquered Persia, the Persians would have probably mentioned this fact in a writing that we would have over the course of 800 years. It seems unlikely that the event would get passed down over 800 years without also getting committed to writing in a surviving record. That is, each person would correctly tell the story to another with no major mistakes or inventions over 800 years without even mentioning it anywhere in anything we have. This would be at variance with its occurrence because of its unlikelihood, even if it surprisingly did happen.

But still, just because there is a contradiction from silence, it doesn't mean that Luke was not an iconographer for sure. As I said, once you through in miraculous guidance of Tradition into the mix, then couldn't anything become rationally justifiable? After all, Protestant advocates of verse by verse Biblical inerrancy have been able to make up rational explanations for everything in the Old Testament, haven't they?
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Offline PeterTheAleut

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There is no evidence that Abgar V was a Christian.

Abgar is a saint in the Orthodox Church.

Is that evidence he was Christian?

It's more evidence than we have about whether or not you're Christian.
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Offline PeterTheAleut

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If it turns out that a certain saint didn't exist according to archeologists, someone could claim that we just haven't found him yet.
One could also question why you believe in archeological infallibility.
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Offline PeterTheAleut

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I've seen the "telephone game" analogy used many times as an argument against reliance on spoken tradition, and I've never found it persuasive. The problem is that with the telephone game one is asked to rely entirely on a secret that is passed from one person to another with no reference to anyone but the person from whom you received the secret. With communal traditions, however, there is the added safeguard of cross-referencing. One can double check what one has received by cross-referencing several other people to see that the same tradition has been passed on to them, too. By cross-referencing, it is also possible for a community to fill in the gaps in each individual person's understanding of the tradition.
That's true, but you can still get minority opinions, and the minority can still be right.
Let's say that the Greeks wanted to pass down part of their history, like the Siege of Troy, but didn't use any written records. Would their account of this event 2500 years later be very reliable? I don't think so.
Written records can be forged. Try doing that with an unwritten tradition preserved and passed on by an entire culture.
It can be easier because there is no paper trail. A king's staff just decide at some point to invent something, claiming that they heard it personally and secretly from some of the past elders. Then the new story becomes part of the oral history.
Isn't it just as easy for the people to say, "We've never heard that story before"? You overlooked my use of the word "preserved". The power of a people to preserve their tradition also serves to protect their tradition against such wanton insertions.
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Offline rakovsky

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If it turns out that a certain saint didn't exist according to archeologists, someone could claim that we just haven't found him yet.
One could also question why you believe in archeological infallibility.
Good example. One can always think of a rational explanation, like Old Testament inerrancy advocates do for Noah's flood.

Not enough space on Noah's ark for all the animal pairs of the world and their food and water for 40 days? The animals miraculously survived 40 days of fasting and then biologically mutated into the much larger number of the animal species we have today.

Flightless Kiwi birds got to New Zealand in a few thousand years? Maybe they lost their flight abilities in only a few thousand years after flying there.
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Offline rakovsky

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I've seen the "telephone game" analogy used many times as an argument against reliance on spoken tradition, and I've never found it persuasive. The problem is that with the telephone game one is asked to rely entirely on a secret that is passed from one person to another with no reference to anyone but the person from whom you received the secret. With communal traditions, however, there is the added safeguard of cross-referencing. One can double check what one has received by cross-referencing several other people to see that the same tradition has been passed on to them, too. By cross-referencing, it is also possible for a community to fill in the gaps in each individual person's understanding of the tradition.
That's true, but you can still get minority opinions, and the minority can still be right.
Let's say that the Greeks wanted to pass down part of their history, like the Siege of Troy, but didn't use any written records. Would their account of this event 2500 years later be very reliable? I don't think so.
Written records can be forged. Try doing that with an unwritten tradition preserved and passed on by an entire culture.
It can be easier because there is no paper trail. A king's staff just decide at some point to invent something, claiming that they heard it personally and secretly from some of the past elders. Then the new story becomes part of the oral history.
Isn't it just as easy for the people to say, "We've never heard that story before"? You overlooked my use of the word "preserved". The power of a people to preserve their tradition also serves to protect their tradition against such wanton insertions.

Are you going to create a conflict with the king and the elders over some detail that they heard from their predecessors in secret? Are you going to make a lot of trouble for your good Greek king, just because you and your people never heard about the Trojan Horse and he only revealed many years later that it was the military secret that won the battle?

Let's give some real life examples:
(A)
In 1844, Brigham Young spoke to a large Mormon audience, but no one in their written records mentioned a miracle there. Then in 1857, one person, Carrington, said that he could only see J.Smith speaking there when it happened back in 1844. Young, the Mormon leader, supported Carrington's statement that Carrington saw this. Then in 1872, Woodruff, a leading Mormon, reported seeing this transfiguration miracle himself. However in saying this, Woodruff contradicted an earlier mention where he wrote that he was not at that particular meeting.

Nowadays, the belief that in 1844 Young's appearance transfigured into J.Smith's is a standard belief in Mormonism. But I think it was just a later invention that got accepted into their narrative when the leaders claimed that it had happened.

(B)
I am sure that history is replete with instances where a society makes up some detail about a historical figure or event. If the Norse saga said that Odin led the Swedes' charge in about 1000-1200 AD, then you might as well ask how many other major details they made up, even though the Norse Sagas became considered standard history. The Buddhists did not write down the main stories about Buddha for a few hundred years after his time, I think. We might find them generally reliable, but can that be said about all the major details. I don't think so.

The same could be said about any personal or semi-legendary events ascribed to other famous figures like Ghenghis Khan or Attilla the Hun. Did George Washington chop the cherry tree, did St Patrick drive out the snakes, and was there a real "King Arthur" with his knights of the "round table", including "Lancelot"? Even if those kinds of stories became the standard oral tradition of a society, to me it doesn't prove that they actually occurred.

Of course, you can always make rationalizations. We didn't find any fossils of snakes in Ireland because it was too cold for them in the Ice Age and the land was blocked by the sea after then? Maybe St Patrick made the fossils go away too, or it was just an allegory. Maybe St. Luke's status as an iconographer was an allegory too?
« Last Edit: June 21, 2015, 07:07:57 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline biro

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But what is painting an allegory for?
https://archiveofourown.org/users/Parakeetist/works Warning: stories have mature content.

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Offline rakovsky

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But what is painting an allegory for?
In iconography, we say that one writes an icon. In Luke's case, it could be an allegory for the way he depicted Christ in his writings.
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Kollwitz plainly drew a picture of the conditions at the bottom of society...
Source: Beyond the Boarders of Existence. Ernst Barlach.

Kollwitz didn't literally draw a picture of the conditions. He was, allegorically speaking, an "illustrator" of those conditions in his work.

Anyway, this is just one rational explanation to justify the Tradition in case somehow it turned out to be not literally true, just as if St George didn't beat a literal dragon. The obvious, intended meaning of course of the story of Luke as an iconographer is that it was literally true, and at one time people may well have thought St George's or Bel's fight with their dragons was literally true too.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2015, 07:41:59 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline TheTrisagion

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But what is painting an allegory for?
In iconography, we say that one writes an icon. In Luke's case, it could be an allegory for the way he depicted Christ in his writings.
You have just stepped into a huge pile of doo-doo.  Be prepared to reap the whirlwind from LBK.  :P
« Last Edit: June 21, 2015, 08:46:34 PM by TheTrisagion »
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Offline PeterTheAleut

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If it turns out that a certain saint didn't exist according to archeologists, someone could claim that we just haven't found him yet.
One could also question why you believe in archeological infallibility.
Good example.
And yet, in your haste to avoid engaging the question, you immediately follow after another red herring.

One can always think of a rational explanation, like Old Testament inerrancy advocates do for Noah's flood.

Not enough space on Noah's ark for all the animal pairs of the world and their food and water for 40 days? The animals miraculously survived 40 days of fasting and then biologically mutated into the much larger number of the animal species we have today.

Flightless Kiwi birds got to New Zealand in a few thousand years? Maybe they lost their flight abilities in only a few thousand years after flying there.
This is an argument against 6-Day Creationist quack theories of the flood. What does this have to do with the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church?
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Offline PeterTheAleut

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I've seen the "telephone game" analogy used many times as an argument against reliance on spoken tradition, and I've never found it persuasive. The problem is that with the telephone game one is asked to rely entirely on a secret that is passed from one person to another with no reference to anyone but the person from whom you received the secret. With communal traditions, however, there is the added safeguard of cross-referencing. One can double check what one has received by cross-referencing several other people to see that the same tradition has been passed on to them, too. By cross-referencing, it is also possible for a community to fill in the gaps in each individual person's understanding of the tradition.
That's true, but you can still get minority opinions, and the minority can still be right.
Let's say that the Greeks wanted to pass down part of their history, like the Siege of Troy, but didn't use any written records. Would their account of this event 2500 years later be very reliable? I don't think so.
Written records can be forged. Try doing that with an unwritten tradition preserved and passed on by an entire culture.
It can be easier because there is no paper trail. A king's staff just decide at some point to invent something, claiming that they heard it personally and secretly from some of the past elders. Then the new story becomes part of the oral history.
Isn't it just as easy for the people to say, "We've never heard that story before"? You overlooked my use of the word "preserved". The power of a people to preserve their tradition also serves to protect their tradition against such wanton insertions.

Are you going to create a conflict with the king and the elders over some detail that they heard from their predecessors in secret? Are you going to make a lot of trouble for your good Greek king, just because you and your people never heard about the Trojan Horse and he only revealed many years later that it was the military secret that won the battle?

Let's give some real life examples:
(A)
In 1844, Brigham Young spoke to a large Mormon audience, but no one in their written records mentioned a miracle there. Then in 1857, one person, Carrington, said that he could only see J.Smith speaking there when it happened back in 1844. Young, the Mormon leader, supported Carrington's statement that Carrington saw this. Then in 1872, Woodruff, a leading Mormon, reported seeing this transfiguration miracle himself. However in saying this, Woodruff contradicted an earlier mention where he wrote that he was not at that particular meeting.
There you have what I would call an actual contradiction. A person claims in writing that he was not at a particular event. Years later he claims in writing that he was at that event. He cannot have both been there and NOT been there. The impossibility presented there proves that one of the two stories he recorded was not true. That's what I mean by a contradiction. The mere absence of contrary evidence, though, is not a contradiction.

Nowadays, the belief that in 1844 Young's appearance transfigured into J.Smith's is a standard belief in Mormonism. But I think it was just a later invention that got accepted into their narrative when the leaders claimed that it had happened.
That, however, is not an example of kings or rulers introducing new teachings into the already existing tradition of a people that predate their rule. Rather, what we see here is the founders of a new community creating a radically new tradition for their followers as they go along.

(B)
I am sure that history is replete with instances where a society makes up some detail about a historical figure or event. If the Norse saga said that Odin led the Swedes' charge in about 1000-1200 AD, then you might as well ask how many other major details they made up, even though the Norse Sagas became considered standard history. The Buddhists did not write down the main stories about Buddha for a few hundred years after his time, I think. We might find them generally reliable, but can that be said about all the major details. I don't think so.

The same could be said about any personal or semi-legendary events ascribed to other famous figures like Ghenghis Khan or Attilla the Hun. Did George Washington chop the cherry tree, did St Patrick drive out the snakes, and was there a real "King Arthur" with his knights of the "round table", including "Lancelot"? Even if those kinds of stories became the standard oral tradition of a society, to me it doesn't prove that they actually occurred.

Of course, you can always make rationalizations. We didn't find any fossils of snakes in Ireland because it was too cold for them in the Ice Age and the land was blocked by the sea after then? Maybe St Patrick made the fossils go away too, or it was just an allegory. Maybe St. Luke's status as an iconographer was an allegory too?
I can see how the legend of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland would be an allegory for his work at driving paganism and idolatry out of Ireland. Of what, though, would traditional accounts of St. Luke being an iconographer also be an allegory?
« Last Edit: June 21, 2015, 10:52:15 PM by PeterTheAleut »
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Offline PeterTheAleut

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But what is painting an allegory for?
In iconography, we say that one writes an icon. In Luke's case, it could be an allegory for the way he depicted Christ in his writings.
Then why does our Tradition not laud the evangelists Matthew, Mark, and John as iconographers together with St. Luke?
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Offline LBK

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But what is painting an allegory for?
In iconography, we say that one writes an icon. In Luke's case, it could be an allegory for the way he depicted Christ in his writings.
You have just stepped into a huge pile of doo-doo.  Be prepared to reap the whirlwind from LBK.  :P

I posted this just three days ago on the "Strange Icons" thread:

Since icons are "written" maybe a misprint?

Icons are not written, they are painted:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,59206.msg1145103/topicseen.html#msg1145103
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Offline rakovsky

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But what is painting an allegory for?
In iconography, we say that one writes an icon. In Luke's case, it could be an allegory for the way he depicted Christ in his writings.
Then why does our Tradition not laud the evangelists Matthew, Mark, and John as iconographers together with St. Luke?
That's a good reason to show that the Tradition considers Luke an actual iconographer of actual physical drawn/painted pictures.

But if we are forced to go into allegory-rationalization mode if it turned out that he wasn't one in real life, then we could use as an excuse that Luke stood out in writing particularly for a Greek audience, and Greeks were known for developing icons. Luke's vivid depictions of Christ in the gospel served as allegorical icons that gave birth to actual physical icons.

You have said that silence on an issue (eg. silence on calling Matthew an iconographer) is not itself a contradiction. Therefore, by your reasoning, such an objection does not present a problem. Church Tradition does not deny that Matthew was an iconographer any more than by its silence it denies that Metropolitan Kyprian was a saint. It just especially points to Luke as an iconographer, albeit an allegorical one.

The same justifications can be made for Church tradition about saints like St George or the ancient righteous like Bel fighting dragons. Nowadays you don't believe in actual dragons anymore, so you look for a rationalization, like saying that the dragon is an allegory for, say, a spiritual challenge or bad force. But weren't there plenty of other saints or battled dark forces or spiritual challenges? And then again you must find more rationalizations. "Yes, well, Tradition does not deny that other saints fought allegorical dragons, but Tradition wishes to put special emphasis on St. George's particular battle with his own allegorical dragon".

Once someone accepts that Tradition must miraculously dictate that its accounts are true, then rationalizations can be found for anything, just like supporters of Old Testament inerrancy find rationalizations for anything. That's because essentially the same way of thinking is at work, although I tend to think that Orthodoxy doesn't require the same intensity of acceptance of Traditions as Biblical inerrancy proponents do of the Old Testament stories.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2015, 11:42:49 PM by rakovsky »
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The same justifications can be made for Church tradition about saints like St George or the ancient righteous like Bel fighting dragons.

The story of St George subduing a dragon dates only from the early second millennium, some time after the Great Schism, and stems from tales of chivalry during the Crusader period. It is not mentioned at all in the hymnography for his feast. However, it has remained as part of Orthodox iconography to illustrate St George's bravery and mastery over sin and apostasy in the face of horrific attempts to sway him. These things are indeed mentioned in the hymns of his feast.
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The same justifications can be made for Church tradition about saints like St George or the ancient righteous like Bel fighting dragons.

The story of St George subduing a dragon dates only from the early second millennium, some time after the Great Schism, and stems from tales of chivalry during the Crusader period. It is not mentioned at all in the hymnography for his feast. However, it has remained as part of Orthodox iconography to illustrate St George's bravery and mastery over sin and apostasy in the face of horrific attempts to sway him. These things are indeed mentioned in the hymns of his feast.
So, does Tradition present dragons as if they are real creatures?

1. Patristics

Quote
ST. JOHN DAMASCENE ON DRAGONS
St. John Damascene's epistle is about dragons. Before citing his words, let us concentrate our attention on the translator's commentary. Two things are immediately evident. First, judging from the lines in italics, Fr. Maxim considers St. John Damascene's scientific views on the issue to be at least archaic. In other words, he definitely considers the accounts of the meetings of people and dinosaurs described by St. John Damascene not to be authentic.

[St. John Damascene writes:]
   "Let them also say who in particular tells about it [a dragon - Rev. T.]? For we trust the teaching of Moses, and, more exactly, the Holy Spirit, having spoken through [the prophet]. This [teaching] reads: And God brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them; and whatsoever [Adam] called every living creature, that was the name thereof (cf. Gen. 2:19). Hence, a dragon was one of the animals. I am not telling you, after all, that there are no dragons; dragons exist but they are serpents borne of other serpents. Being just born and young, they are small; but when they grow up and get mature, they become big and fat so that exceed the other serpents in length and size. It is said they grow up more than thirty cubits; as for their thickness, they get as thick as a big log.

Dio the Roman (ab. 155 - ab. 236 - Rev. T.) who wrote the history of Roman empire and republic, reports the following: one day, when Regulus, a Roman consul, was fighting against Carthage, a dragon suddenly crept up and settled behind the wall of the Roman army. The Romans killed it by order of Regulus, excoriated it and sent the hide to the Roman senate. When the dragon's hide, as Dio says, was measured up by order of the senate, it happened to be, amazing, one hundred and twenty feet long, and the thickness was fitting to the length."

http://www.creationism.org/crimea/engl/al1.htm

Dragons can be found in hymnography and prayers. For example, in one account handed down, St. Elizabeth slew a dragon.

Quote
Orthodox Prayers

Ὄφιν δεινόν, δράκοντα σὺ ἐθανάτωσας, προσευχῇ σου, πρότερον συντρίψασα, τοῦ πονηροῦ, πάσας μηχανάς, θείᾳ δυναστείᾳ, καὶ τοῦτον εἰς βρῶσιν δέδωκας, θηρίων Ἐλισάβετ, καὶ παντοίων ὀρνέων, τὸν τῶν ὅλων Δεσπότην δοξάζουσα.

“A TERRIBLE serpent, a dragon didst thou put to death, by thy prayer, when thou hadst first shattered every device of the evil one by divine power, and thou gavest it to be food for the beasts of the field, Elizabeth, and for birds of every sort, glorifying the Master of all things.”

https://orthodoxprayers.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/st-elizabeth-the-dragon-slayer-champion-of-all-them-that-are-in-tribulation/

Quote
“When You bowed Your head to the Forerunner, You crushed the heads of the dragons; And when You stood in the midst of the stream, You let Your light shine upon all creatures, That they might glorify You, Our Saviour, Who enlighten our souls!” (Lord I Call – Vespers of Theophany)

“The Lord refashions broken Adam in the streams of the Jordan. And He smashes the heads of dragons lurking there. The Lord does this, the King of the ages; for He has been glorified.” (Vigil for the Theophany, First Canon)
http://byztex.blogspot.com/2013/01/who-are-those-people-riding-fish.html

And they are in iconography, and repeatedly in the Bible. And the people of the Church in the Middle Ages, like St. John Damascene who wrote a book about them, presented them as real creatures like he did when exegeting the Scriptures.

Quote
...even the highly educated and God-inspired Church Fathers wrote and taught about the real existence of mythological creatures [St. Photius the Great, St. Athanasius the Great, St. John Damascene, St. Ephraim the Syrian, St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, etc.]
Source: The Dragon Slayer Saints of the Orthodox Church, 4/26/2015

Were I to argue in favor of Tradition, I would say that the Tradition does not demand that we accept dragons as real creatures, even if our church fathers taught this. I would say the same thing about Luke. I would then argue that even if the events or creatues were not factually and physically accurate, they were still allegorically true, that is, George slew an allegorical dragon and even if Luke was not an iconographer, he was one allegorically through his gospel writing.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2015, 12:53:57 AM by rakovsky »
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Offline PeterTheAleut

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But what is painting an allegory for?
In iconography, we say that one writes an icon. In Luke's case, it could be an allegory for the way he depicted Christ in his writings.
Then why does our Tradition not laud the evangelists Matthew, Mark, and John as iconographers together with St. Luke?
That's a good reason to show that the Tradition considers Luke an actual iconographer of actual physical drawn/painted pictures.

But if we are forced to go into allegory-rationalization mode if it turned out that he wasn't one in real life, then we could use as an excuse that Luke stood out in writing particularly for a Greek audience, and Greeks were known for developing icons. Luke's vivid depictions of Christ in the gospel served as allegorical icons that gave birth to actual physical icons.
That, I think is a bit of a stretch.

You have said that silence on an issue (eg. silence on calling Matthew an iconographer) is not itself a contradiction. Therefore, by your reasoning, such an objection does not present a problem. Church Tradition does not deny that Matthew was an iconographer any more than by its silence it denies that Metropolitan Kyprian was a saint.
I think you're misusing my general objection to arguments from silence to make it support absurd conclusions. To my knowledge, St. Matthew has never been identified as an iconographer, so there's nothing for an argument from silence to contradict.

It just especially points to Luke as an iconographer, albeit an allegorical one.
I'm not aware that Tradition hails St. Luke as an iconographer only in the allegorical sense. You're also not making any sense with such non sequiturs as this, which leads me to the opinion that you're tying yourself into knots with your sophistry.

The same justifications can be made for Church tradition about saints like St George or the ancient righteous like Bel fighting dragons. Nowadays you don't believe in actual dragons anymore, so you look for a rationalization, like saying that the dragon is an allegory for, say, a spiritual challenge or bad force. But weren't there plenty of other saints or battled dark forces or spiritual challenges? And then again you must find more rationalizations. "Yes, well, Tradition does not deny that other saints fought allegorical dragons, but Tradition wishes to put special emphasis on St. George's particular battle with his own allegorical dragon".
What does the non-denial of some allegorical stories have to do with special emphasis on St. George? You've lost me.

Once someone accepts that Tradition must miraculously dictate that its accounts are true, then rationalizations can be found for anything, just like supporters of Old Testament inerrancy find rationalizations for anything.
In all honesty, it looks as if you're the one looking for any rationalization you can find to dismiss the stories of our faith. This is nothing new, though, for you've shown in your years on this forum the occasional desire to rationalize away such core dogmas of our faith as the Resurrection and the Virgin Birth.

That's because essentially the same way of thinking is at work, although I tend to think that Orthodoxy doesn't require the same intensity of acceptance of Traditions as Biblical inerrancy proponents do of the Old Testament stories.
You misunderstand the role miracles play in our understanding of the faith. Tradition does not miraculously dictate that its accounts are true, as if they were somehow false before Tradition's miraculous dictation made them true. Tradition simply preserves that which is true.
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The same justifications can be made for Church tradition about saints like St George or the ancient righteous like Bel fighting dragons.

The story of St George subduing a dragon dates only from the early second millennium, some time after the Great Schism, and stems from tales of chivalry during the Crusader period. It is not mentioned at all in the hymnography for his feast. However, it has remained as part of Orthodox iconography to illustrate St George's bravery and mastery over sin and apostasy in the face of horrific attempts to sway him. These things are indeed mentioned in the hymns of his feast.
So, does Tradition present dragons as if they are real creatures?

1. Patristics

Quote
ST. JOHN DAMASCENE ON DRAGONS
St. John Damascene's epistle is about dragons. Before citing his words, let us concentrate our attention on the translator's commentary. Two things are immediately evident. First, judging from the lines in italics, Fr. Maxim considers St. John Damascene's scientific views on the issue to be at least archaic. In other words, he definitely considers the accounts of the meetings of people and dinosaurs described by St. John Damascene not to be authentic.

[St. John Damascene writes:]
   "Let them also say who in particular tells about it [a dragon - Rev. T.]? For we trust the teaching of Moses, and, more exactly, the Holy Spirit, having spoken through [the prophet]. This [teaching] reads: And God brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them; and whatsoever [Adam] called every living creature, that was the name thereof (cf. Gen. 2:19). Hence, a dragon was one of the animals. I am not telling you, after all, that there are no dragons; dragons exist but they are serpents borne of other serpents. Being just born and young, they are small; but when they grow up and get mature, they become big and fat so that exceed the other serpents in length and size. It is said they grow up more than thirty cubits; as for their thickness, they get as thick as a big log.

Dio the Roman (ab. 155 - ab. 236 - Rev. T.) who wrote the history of Roman empire and republic, reports the following: one day, when Regulus, a Roman consul, was fighting against Carthage, a dragon suddenly crept up and settled behind the wall of the Roman army. The Romans killed it by order of Regulus, excoriated it and sent the hide to the Roman senate. When the dragon's hide, as Dio says, was measured up by order of the senate, it happened to be, amazing, one hundred and twenty feet long, and the thickness was fitting to the length."

http://www.creationism.org/crimea/engl/al1.htm
Have you never heard of the Komodo dragon, a species of monitor lizard that inhabits some of the Indonesian islands? What other living creatures do you think we call or have in the past called dragons?
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Offline rakovsky

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Quote
[St. John Damascene writes:]
Dio the Roman (ab. 155 - ab. 236 - Rev. T.) who wrote the history of Roman empire and republic, reports the following: one day, when Regulus, a Roman consul, was fighting against Carthage, a dragon suddenly crept up and settled behind the wall of the Roman army. The Romans killed it by order of Regulus, excoriated it and sent the hide to the Roman senate. When the dragon's hide, as Dio says, was measured up by order of the senate, it happened to be, amazing, one hundred and twenty feet long, and the thickness was fitting to the length."[/i]
http://www.creationism.org/crimea/engl/al1.htm
Have you never heard of the Komodo dragon, a species of monitor lizard that inhabits some of the Indonesian islands? What other living creatures do you think we call or have in the past called dragons?

Yes, however this does not sound like a Komodo dragon.

« Last Edit: June 22, 2015, 01:22:05 AM by rakovsky »
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Offline PeterTheAleut

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Quote
[St. John Damascene writes:]
Dio the Roman (ab. 155 - ab. 236 - Rev. T.) who wrote the history of Roman empire and republic, reports the following: one day, when Regulus, a Roman consul, was fighting against Carthage, a dragon suddenly crept up and settled behind the wall of the Roman army. The Romans killed it by order of Regulus, excoriated it and sent the hide to the Roman senate. When the dragon's hide, as Dio says, was measured up by order of the senate, it happened to be, amazing, one hundred and twenty feet long, and the thickness was fitting to the length."[/i]
http://www.creationism.org/crimea/engl/al1.htm
Have you never heard of the Komodo dragon, a species of monitor lizard that inhabits some of the Indonesian islands? What other living creatures do you think we call or have in the past called dragons?

Yes, however this does not sound like a Komodo dragon.
But what other animals do you think we may have called dragons in the past?
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Offline LBK

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Quote
[St. John Damascene writes:]
Dio the Roman (ab. 155 - ab. 236 - Rev. T.) who wrote the history of Roman empire and republic, reports the following: one day, when Regulus, a Roman consul, was fighting against Carthage, a dragon suddenly crept up and settled behind the wall of the Roman army. The Romans killed it by order of Regulus, excoriated it and sent the hide to the Roman senate. When the dragon's hide, as Dio says, was measured up by order of the senate, it happened to be, amazing, one hundred and twenty feet long, and the thickness was fitting to the length."[/i]
http://www.creationism.org/crimea/engl/al1.htm
Have you never heard of the Komodo dragon, a species of monitor lizard that inhabits some of the Indonesian islands? What other living creatures do you think we call or have in the past called dragons?

Yes, however this does not sound like a Komodo dragon.

Crocodiles were well-known to people of the Biblical period. The river Nile still has its populations of these creatures. There are also many other large lizards which could easily have been called "dragons".
« Last Edit: June 22, 2015, 01:29:33 AM by LBK »
Am I posting? Or is it Schroedinger's Cat?

Offline rakovsky

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Quote
[St. John Damascene writes:]
Dio the Roman (ab. 155 - ab. 236 - Rev. T.) who wrote the history of Roman empire and republic, reports the following: one day, when Regulus, a Roman consul, was fighting against Carthage, a dragon suddenly crept up and settled behind the wall of the Roman army. The Romans killed it by order of Regulus, excoriated it and sent the hide to the Roman senate. When the dragon's hide, as Dio says, was measured up by order of the senate, it happened to be, amazing, one hundred and twenty feet long, and the thickness was fitting to the length."
http://www.creationism.org/crimea/engl/al1.htm
Have you never heard of the Komodo dragon, a species of monitor lizard that inhabits some of the Indonesian islands? What other living creatures do you think we call or have in the past called dragons?

Yes, however this does not sound like a Komodo dragon.

Crocodiles were well-known to people of the Biblical period. The river Nile still has its populations of these creatures. There are also many other large lizards which could easily have been called "dragons".
St John Damascene believed that the Roman Senate found a dragon hide 120 feet long. That is longer than a blue whale. I don't think St John Damascene was talking about a crocodile, although those are large reptiles too.



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Offline rakovsky

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I've seen the "telephone game" analogy used many times as an argument against reliance on spoken tradition, and I've never found it persuasive. The problem is that with the telephone game one is asked to rely entirely on a secret that is passed from one person to another with no reference to anyone but the person from whom you received the secret. With communal traditions, however, there is the added safeguard of cross-referencing. One can double check what one has received by cross-referencing several other people to see that the same tradition has been passed on to them, too. By cross-referencing, it is also possible for a community to fill in the gaps in each individual person's understanding of the tradition.
That's true, but you can still get minority opinions, and the minority can still be right.
Let's say that the Greeks wanted to pass down part of their history, like the Siege of Troy, but didn't use any written records. Would their account of this event 2500 years later be very reliable? I don't think so.
Written records can be forged. Try doing that with an unwritten tradition preserved and passed on by an entire culture.
It can be easier because there is no paper trail. A king's staff just decide at some point to invent something, claiming that they heard it personally and secretly from some of the past elders. Then the new story becomes part of the oral history.
Isn't it just as easy for the people to say, "We've never heard that story before"? You overlooked my use of the word "preserved". The power of a people to preserve their tradition also serves to protect their tradition against such wanton insertions.

Are you going to create a conflict with the king and the elders over some detail that they heard from their predecessors in secret? Are you going to make a lot of trouble for your good Greek king, just because you and your people never heard about the Trojan Horse and he only revealed many years later that it was the military secret that won the battle?

Let's give some real life examples:
(A)
In 1844, Brigham Young spoke to a large Mormon audience, but no one in their written records mentioned a miracle there. Then in 1857, one person, Carrington, said that he could only see J.Smith speaking there when it happened back in 1844. Young, the Mormon leader, supported Carrington's statement that Carrington saw this. Then in 1872, Woodruff, a leading Mormon, reported seeing this transfiguration miracle himself. However in saying this, Woodruff contradicted an earlier mention where he wrote that he was not at that particular meeting.
There you have what I would call an actual contradiction. A person claims in writing that he was not at a particular event. Years later he claims in writing that he was at that event. He cannot have both been there and NOT been there. The impossibility presented there proves that one of the two stories he recorded was not true. That's what I mean by a contradiction. The mere absence of contrary evidence, though, is not a contradiction.

Nowadays, the belief that in 1844 Young's appearance transfigured into J.Smith's is a standard belief in Mormonism. But I think it was just a later invention that got accepted into their narrative when the leaders claimed that it had happened.
That, however, is not an example of kings or rulers introducing new teachings into the already existing tradition of a people that predate their rule. Rather, what we see here is the founders of a new community creating a radically new tradition for their followers as they go along.
My point is that this is a case where the leadership spread a story that the community did not know about for about 15 years based on an incident that probably didn't happen. Based on Woodruff's contradiction, it looks like he knowingly invented his part of the story in 1872, after which the story spread further. By now, it's accepted as a standard part of Mormonism.

So putting aside the idea of miraculous preservation of truth in oral tradition, a story could be advanced by some nonChristian society's leaders and accepted by the society even though it didn't happen and wasn't something that people in the society acknowledged for a long time.


Quote
(B)
I am sure that history is replete with instances where a society makes up some detail about a historical figure or event. If the Norse saga said that Odin led the Swedes' charge in about 1000-1200 AD, then you might as well ask how many other major details they made up, even though the Norse Sagas became considered standard history. The Buddhists did not write down the main stories about Buddha for a few hundred years after his time, I think. We might find them generally reliable, but can that be said about all the major details. I don't think so.

The same could be said about any personal or semi-legendary events ascribed to other famous figures like Ghenghis Khan or Attilla the Hun. Did George Washington chop the cherry tree, did St Patrick drive out the snakes, and was there a real "King Arthur" with his knights of the "round table", including "Lancelot"? Even if those kinds of stories became the standard oral tradition of a society, to me it doesn't prove that they actually occurred.

Of course, you can always make rationalizations. We didn't find any fossils of snakes in Ireland because it was too cold for them in the Ice Age and the land was blocked by the sea after then? Maybe St Patrick made the fossils go away too, or it was just an allegory. Maybe St. Luke's status as an iconographer was an allegory too?
I can see how the legend of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland would be an allegory for his work at driving paganism and idolatry out of Ireland. Of what, though, would traditional accounts of St. Luke being an iconographer also be an allegory?
[/quote]
Europeans generally didn't accept the theory that the world was created billions of years ago and that animals evolved to where they are now. Instead, the standard idea was that the Creation story in Genesis was not allegorical and that there was a literal, brief period of the creation of the earth a few thousand years ago. Many Orthodox today still believe this. As part of the Holy Scripture of the Church, this literal concept was accepted as a factually correct part of the standard idea of our Tradition. Just as St John Damascene believed that the Senate had a 120 foot dragon skin, the Church fathers probably believed in the Young Earth theory as well.

However, just because something like the Young Earth theory is presented as factually true in Sacred Scripture and Tradition does actually mean that it is really factually true. Nowadays, increasing numbers of people take those Biblical events like the Creation story and a global flood that Noah built an ark to escape with the world's animals as allegories. However, within our Tradition there was at least a long period where what we now see as allegories were presented as factually correct.

My conclusion is that as a general rule we look to Tradition for spiritual truths, but we do not necessarily believe that every single detail that can be found in Tradition, like in the writings of the fathers on dragons or the flood are "inerrantly" factually correct. That is, we don't believe in "Inerrancy of Tradition" like Fundamentalists believe in Biblical inerrancy.
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Offline Fabio Leite

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Well, St. John Damascene clearly states that the creature he calls 'dragon' is just a very large serpent.

I wonder if maybe larger species of snakes may have had its last rare individuals in Europe and Middle East still in the human age, leading to legends of dragons.

"Having wings" may be a way of saying they were very fast and "breathing fire" a way of saying their poison burned.
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Offline rakovsky

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If one believes that oral histories and oral traditions are amazingly accurate, then such a judgment would of course apply to the story of Solomon's ring. It became a widespread story in the Middle Ages, with many legends crossing Jewish, Muslim, and Christian cultures, and even existing in the Medieval occult and in magic. Ethiopia's national flag uses Solomon's seal. I am unaware of any medieval accounts rejecting the story that he had such a ring.

In Orthodoxy, I am only aware of traditions of Solomon as a demon subduer existing in one Church theologian (I think Origen), but then you also have the church of Solomon the demon subduer in Jerusalem and icons of this and you have the ring that was shown for at least about 200 years to pilgrims from around the Christian world as they traveled to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Paskha.
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Oh, not this ring crap again...
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Oh, not this ring crap again...


well someone has to take the ring back to Mordor!
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If one believes that oral histories and oral traditions are amazingly accurate, then such a judgment would of course apply to the story of Solomon's ring. It became a widespread story in the Middle Ages, with many legends crossing Jewish, Muslim, and Christian cultures, and even existing in the Medieval occult and in magic. Ethiopia's national flag uses Solomon's seal. I am unaware of any medieval accounts rejecting the story that he had such a ring.

In Orthodoxy, I am only aware of traditions of Solomon as a demon subduer existing in one Church theologian (I think Origen), but then you also have the church of Solomon the demon subduer in Jerusalem and icons of this and you have the ring that was shown for at least about 200 years to pilgrims from around the Christian world as they traveled to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Paskha.
You're talking about a local tradition, though, a local tradition that has not been embraced by the Church universal.

BTW, what does this red herring about Solomon's Ring have to do with the OP of this thread? ???
« Last Edit: June 22, 2015, 07:36:27 PM by PeterTheAleut »
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Offline rakovsky

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If one believes that oral histories and oral traditions are amazingly accurate, then such a judgment would of course apply to the story of Solomon's ring. It became a widespread story in the Middle Ages, with many legends crossing Jewish, Muslim, and Christian cultures, and even existing in the Medieval occult and in magic. Ethiopia's national flag uses Solomon's seal. I am unaware of any medieval accounts rejecting the story that he had such a ring.

In Orthodoxy, I am only aware of traditions of Solomon as a demon subduer existing in one Church theologian (I think Origen), but then you also have the church of Solomon the demon subduer in Jerusalem and icons of this and you have the ring that was shown for at least about 200 years to pilgrims from around the Christian world as they traveled to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Paskha.
You're talking about a local tradition, though, a local tradition that has not been embraced by the Church universal.

BTW, what does this red herring about Solomon's Ring have to do with the OP of this thread? ???
The OP said that Luke was known as an iconographer. Volnutt replied that it is only found in records from 800 and later, so he doubted that it was true.

My comment about the ring is that, were we talking about the reliability of such an idea and the belief in miraculous preservation of Church Tradition was not involved, then the reliability of Luke's status as an iconographer would be similarly doubtful. I researched the ring a lot because it plays a major role in medieval culture, including in Byzantine Jerusalem. I expected more belief among Orthodox today, but instead, it looks like people in general tend to be pretty skeptical about the story.

The basis for people's skepticism appears to be that our earliest recorded extant mention of Solomon's ring appears to be over 1000 years after Solomon's time, and then the Church of Jerusalem presented it as an authentic relic. In the case of Luke's iconographic status, the first extant record we have is from about 700 years after Luke's time.

The difference between the two is not the passage of time, or a lack of extant records, or even the concept that Solomon wore a protective ring (since rings existed at that time), rather as you, Peter, explained, Luke's status has become a standard concept throughout the local churches, not just one local church, and in accordance with the principle of miraculous preservation of Tradition, Orthodox would tend to accept this story, while retaining greater uncertainty about Solomon's ring.
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Offline TheTrisagion

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Oh, not this ring crap again...


well someone has to take the ring back to Mordor!

God bless!

Offline minasoliman

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Sorry to resurrect this topic.  I was asked what exactly is the earliest written reference we have on the tradition of St. Luke being an iconogragher?  I keep seeing 800s or 700s, but I'd like to know who in that era is the earliest to mention this tradition, and if you can, give me the reference.

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Offline TheTrisagion

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I recall reading once that Saint Eudocia found an icon in Jerusalem that she identified as one from St. Luke. She lived in the early 5th century, so even if it wasn't an icon from St. Luke, it would appear that there was at least an indication of St. Luke being an iconographer at that point in history. I will see if I can find where I read that.

EDIT: here is a Wikipedia link about the icon.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hodegetria
« Last Edit: March 30, 2016, 04:58:05 PM by TheTrisagion »
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Offline minasoliman

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So far, the earliest I could find is Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopoulos, a 13th to 14th century figure, who quoted Theodorus Lector of the sixth century, who mentions that story of Eudocia in the fifth century.   Theodorus Lector was also quoted by John Damascene and the acts of the Council of Nicea 787, but these latter two seem to not mention the Lukan icon story of Eudocia, as far as I'm aware.  Theodorus Lector's works are sadly lost.  So far, the earliest written reference is 13th-14th century of something allegedly written in the 6th century.

If anyone can find anything by the Damascene or the Nicene council on this, that would be great.
Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.