"My question: Did not the Seventh Council center on the idea that the member of the Godhead who is flesh could be depicted? Doesn't this fly in the face of depicting the undepictable Father?"
The Seventh Ecumenical Council testifies of the tradition that figurines of doves, representing the Holy Spirit, were in use in the Church.
Nor hath [Severus] spared either the sacred altars or the holy vessels: the former he scraped as if they were profane things: the latter he melted down and appropriated to himself and his comrades; and further O ye most blessed men, he has dared even this―to take for his own the gold and silver doves which were suspended over the divine fonts and altars, saying that doves ought not to be called the Holy Ghost."
[Saint] Tarasius: "If the fathers allowed these doves to be suspended in the name of the Holy Ghost, how much more would they have allowed images of the Word who was incarnate and was seen by us? But could ye believe it―Anastasius who presided at Constantinople appropriated to his own use gold and silver images as did Severus before him."
The Holy Spirit has never taken on flesh and become incarnate. And yet, images of the Holy Spirit abound in the Church. Angels and bodiless powers are invisible and are not incarnate either, and yet, they are depicted. It is a fallacious argument which insists that God or angels must become incarnate to be depicted.
This fallacious argument is one of the errors of the Council of Moscow 1666-67:
"We decree that from now on the image of the Lord Sabaoth will no longer be painted according to senseless and unsuitable imaginings, for no one has ever seen the Lord Sabaoth (that is, God the Father) in the flesh.”
The standard basis for what can be depicted in icons is simple, and is conveyed by St. John of Damascus in his Apologies against those who attack the divine images:
"In a word it may be said that we can make images of all the forms which we see. We apprehend these as if they were seen." In the following paragraph, St. John says: "But Scripture offers forms and images even of God."
So, the argument rests on whether or not the Father has been seen, not whether He has taken on flesh. Quite simply, if the Father has been seen, He can be depicted.
"I just don't understand why iconographers keep doing this."
The answer is really quite simple. The problem is not with images depicting God the Father, or those who paint them, but with the gross theological ignorance of those who are in doubt about them. If one properly understands the tradition and theology of the Church, they will have absolutely no reservations about these depictions of God the Father.
The Icon of the Holy Trinity (Not the Rublev one) but having the figure of an Elderly personage (Father) a Young One (Jesus-son) and holy spirit as a dove is indeed a western Religious painting...
Not true. In the Council of Moscow of 1553-1554, St. Makarii, Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia, who presided over this council and the Stoglav council of 1551, declared that these icons were in accord with tradition, with God the Father being commonly depicted as the Lord Sabaoth in several Athonite churches.
Metropolitan Makarii: "The painters do not represent the Godhead invisible according to His essence, but they portray and represent according to the prophetic visions and the ancient Greek models."
Furthermore, "the Council condemned Viskovatii, the Tsar’s Secretary of State, for raising the issue of such icons in the first instance and labeling them ‘Latin heretical concepts’."
Ancient Greek models, not heretical Latin models. Back in the mid 1500's instigators were falsely asserting that depictions of God the Father were of heretical Latin inspiration, and this was rejected by St. Macarius and the Council of Moscow.
Simply because some make baseless claims that depictions of God the Father are of Western influence or Latin origin, doesn't necessarily make it true. Those who make these bold assertions must PROVE their claims.
It has definitely been condemned by a Russia Synod Council (100 Chapters) that established St Anton Rublev as the model for Russian Iconography.
No, no, no. The Stoglav Moscow Council of 1551 was presided over by the same St. Metropolitan Macarius (an iconographer) who presided over the council referenced above in 1553-1554. You are correct in the sense that the council recognized the Holy Trinity icon of St. Andrei Rublev as an exemplary model, but in addition to this the council also recognized Trinity icons based on "ancient Greek models" as well as those of other iconographers of renown. There was no condemnation of depicting God the Father in images.
One of the oldest known depictions of God the Father in Iconography, is, (believe it or not) Russian! And this depiction dates back to at least the 13th Century! It is the "Kursk Root" Icon of the Theotokos, which, by the way, is a "Wonder-working" Icon with it's own Feast-day!
Actually, there are depictions of God the Father that date to much earlier than the 13th century, and the Lord Sabaoth was not added to the Kursk Root icon until a few centuries later. Nevertheless, it did not cease to be a wonderworking icon after the addition at the end of the 16th century.
"1) What do we do with the statement that no one has seen God and lived?"
What do you do with this statement? Genesis 32:30: And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
What do we do with the writings of St. John of Damascus, who repeatedly says in On the Divine Images that in former times the One who was beyond depiction has now taken a human body, of which an image can be made? If an image of God the Father can be made apart from His Son's Incarnation
Whoever has suggested that images of the Father are to be understood apart from the Incarnation? I am not sure where you came up with this notion.
I'm with Pedro on this. If you can depict a Person of the Holy Trinity who has never been incarnate, why were images of God so forbidden in the Old Testament?
Of course it is permissible to depict persons of the Holy Trinity who have never been incarnate. The Holy Spirit has never been incarnate, and yet images of the Holy Spirit abound in the Church. It logically follows that it is not necessary for the Father to become incarnate to be depicted either, and that is why images of the Father abound, because like the Holy Spirit, God the Father has been seen, and as St. John of Damascus teaches, if the Father has been seen, He can be depicted.
Yes, it is against the canons of both the Quinisext and Seventh Ecumenical Councils to depict God the Father. Numerous subsequent local councils, in Greece, Russia and elsewhere, continued to confirm this prohibition.
This is utterly false, and the person who makes these absurd claims is unable to support these false assertions with any legitimate citations.
There is nothing wrong with depicting God the Word because He has taken on visible flesh. Depicting God the Father, on the other hand, is prohibited by the canons of the EOC. Doing so is an odd piety that shows up in some sections of the Church in violation of the canons.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. I will say it again and again: The Holy Spirit has never taken on flesh, and yet images of the Holy Spirit in the likeness of a dove abound in the Church. There are no legitimate canons prohibiting depictions of the Father. Only canons from false councils that were rejected by the practice of the Church, which Orthodox Christians are under no obligation to observe.
In Eastern Orthodox Christian hymns and icons, the Ancient of Days is sometimes identified with God the Father; but most properly, in accordance with Orthodox theology he is identified with God the Son, or Jesus Christ.
What do you mean by "most properly"? It is wholly proper and fitting to refer to God the Father as the Ancient of Days, since this appellation pertains to the Godhead, and not the humanity of Jesus Christ. What is certainly improper, is to infer that a preference should be given, as if the Son is "more properly" named the Ancient of Days than the Father. Please refer to St. Dionysius: On the Divine Names.
It was declared by the Russian Orthodox Church at the Great Synod of Moscow in 1667 that the Ancient of Days was the Son and not the Father.
This council was not Orthodox in a number of respects, and the cacodox declaration that the Ancient of Days is the Son and not the Father only serves to confirm such. That erroneous statement runs contrary to the understanding and teaching of the Orthodox Church. The appellation Ancient of Days applies to every person of the Holy Trinity. Anyone who tries to say it belongs in an exclusive sense to only one person of the Holy Trinity is simply ignorant of the teaching of the Church.
As Orthodox Wiki says:
Icons depicting God the Father do not conform to the teachings of the Seventh Ecumenical Council. God the Father is invisible and not able to be depicted. Since Christ was born of the indescribable Father, the Father cannot have an image.
God help those who think they can learn Orthodox theology from a wiki, or from one of the modernistic books on Orthodox iconography written by those from apostate "World Orthodoxy" (Bingham, Ouspensky, et al.)
One should not think that reading snippets or a paragraph or two of extracts from the Internet is sufficient to learn theology. One needs to isolate oneself from the world, and read many treatises (in their entirety) of the Holy Fathers before presuming to preach to others about Orthodox theology and practice with regards to icons, especially when one's rejection of images of the Father stands in clear contradiction to many centuries of Orthodox tradition and practice.
How incredibly arrogant of some to think they are more theologically informed and enlightened than countless God-bearing saints who venerated these icons dating back many centuries, and never instigated or agitated against them or wrote any treatises against them.
There is not even one single treatise written by any saint against images of the Father. Nary a one! Wouldn't it be logical, since images of the Father have appeared in the Church for more than a thousand years, that if these depictions were truly heretical, that God would have raised up at least one saint who would have sought to correct this imagined error in their writings?
But there are none.
So many glorious saints have joined the heavenly choirs the last several centuries, all the while venerating these images and not agitating against them in the least. Yet some, swollen with vainglory and pride, are deluded into believing that they know better and can surpass the saints by gabbing on Internet forums about theology in a scholastic sense, oblivious to the fact that the countless number of saints who venerated these images actually lived and learned theology from direct personal revelation and practical experience.
The utter lack of humility is ... astounding.