"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, June 20, 2011

Byzantine Holy Images

As I have remarked many times in just the past few months, never has the student of iconography had a happier time than today, when we see no abatement in the flood of books covering all aspects of icons from all presses and perspectives. Now Peeters has just brought out another about the famed Chora Church just outside Constantinople.

A. Karahan, Byzantine Holy Images - Transcendence and Immanence. The Theological Background of the Iconography and Aesthetics of the Chora Church (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta) (2010), 343pp.

About this book, the publisher tells us:
Patristic thinking is the bedrock of the uniformity of Byzantine culture, legitimization of image use in the Eastern Church, as well as Byzantine aesthetics, Karahan argues. The synergy in Late Byzantine holy images of "meta-images" for God's inexplicability, and elaborated dramatized narration for God's immanence epitomize orthodox tradition in general, and in particular fourth-century Cappadocian modes and models of thought on Christology, trinitarian theology and the Theotokos. The incomprehensible, uncircumscribed invisible Trinity, and the comprehensible God-man born of the Theotokos, circumscribed in flesh but not in divinity is a one-God reality of transcendent ontology and actions in the world of the two-natured image of God, Christ. Explanations in words or in images cannot ignore these orthodox axioms without turning into false images or heretic idols. This book explores why and how the idiosyncratic use of color, form, kinetics, light, and brilliance in Late Byzantine aesthetics concur with the tradition of the Fathers. How narration in image as well as literature is orthodoxos, 'of right belief, orthodox.'
We shall have this reviewed in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies. 

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