"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).

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Theodore the Studite on Iconoclasm

I've received a good half-dozen or more catalogues in the mail this month, advertising books to be released by Christmas or into the new year. Included is a new translation of one of the two best-known patristic writers refuting the case against icons. Paulist Press tells me this title is available in November, but Amazon has a February 2015 date. In either case, continuing in the valuable Ancient Christian Writer series, is Theodore the Studite: Writings on Iconoclasm (Ancient Christian Writers No.69), trans. Thomas Cattoi (Paulist, 2014), 320pp.

About this book we are told:
Famous for his writings exploring the nature and purpose of the monastic life, Theodore the Studite (759 826) was also the author of numerous apologetic works on the theology of the icon, where prose and poetry brought together theological depth and mystical inspiration. In the context of the iconoclast revival that swept through Byzantium in the early years of the ninth century, Theodore was the chief advocate of the legitimacy of icon veneration, and argued for the fundamental congruence between this practice and the Christological vision of the early councils. As John Damascene had done during the eighth century, Theodore envisages the icon as the synthesis of the Christian faith in the incarnation; its veneration is not only the litmus test of doctrinal orthodoxy, but it is also an integral part of the spiritual practice of the Christian, for whom Christ s resurrection points towards the eschatological redemption of the cosmos.

This volume makes available in English for the first time all the writings by Theodore on the subject of iconoclasm. It will be of great interests to scholars and students of early Christian theology and spirituality, as well as to anyone eager to explore the relationship between spiritual practice and the visual arts.

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