"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, July 19, 2021

The Angel Beholding the Face of God

Angelico Press continues to have some of the most interestingly varied lists today, and their regular publishing of works in Eastern Christianity does them huge credit. Just this month they have now published a translation of a work by a Russian-American iconographer and founder of the Prosopon school, whose videos I have sometimes used in my own iconography classes: Vladislav Andrejev, The Angel of the Countenance of God: Theology and Iconology of Theophanies, trans. Alex Apatov (Angelico, 2021), 326pp.

About this new book the publisher tells us this: 

Iconography is the study of the history, practice, and symbolism of painted Christian images. Iconology probes deeper still, into the “icon” of Divine Presence in the inner man, who is himself made “in the image [eikón] of God” (Gen 1:26), as the place where Wisdom seeks to make her home. Written by an iconographer with forty years’ experience researching the nature and mission of the icon, The Angel of the Countenance of God explores the biblical epiphanies of God—their translation into images, their mythological parallels, and their Trinitarian and Christological implications. Drawing on his own icon-writing, V. L. Andrejev here focuses on the biblical theme of the “Angel of Jehovah,” distinguishing the “created Angels” of the Heavenly Hierarchies from this “uncreated Angel” of Theophany, that divine Being Moses beheld in the flames of the Burning Bush, and Christian tradition depicts as the royal maiden Sophia, personification of the Wisdom of God. This distinction carries profound consequences for iconography, dogmatic theology, and discipleship.

The icon written on a board is the “spoken” word made visual, but its final significance lies within each person. For it is man himself, as the living icon of the Image of God, who by means of the immaterial, essential Light of God makes visible in icons the “actions” of God. Icon-writing is “symbolic realism,” and though not able to depict God, is able to depict the image of His actions. The fulfillment of the icon, the image of God, is love—the love uniting Bride and Bridegroom in the Song of Songs; that same love hymned by St Symeon the New Theologian and St Maximus the Confessor.

The Angel of the Countenance of God will be of value to all who have an interest in iconography, Trinitarian Christology, Sophiology, and Eastern Christianity.

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