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Art, Incarnation and Iconology PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Thursday, 04 December 2008 15:41
Out of the Iconoclastic Controversy (ibid) came an interesting philosophical and theological aesthetic or Philosophy of Art.  Basic to that aesthetic is the Doctrine of the Incarnation.  This is key to my understanding of the subject.  Each side in the controversy appealed to this Doctrine which both believed.  The Nicene Creed declared that Jesus the Son was of one being with the Father.  He was true God of true God. The Athanasian Creed and the Council of Chalcedon, both mid 5th Century, affirmed that Jesus is fully Man and simultaneously He is fully God.  Any true icon of Jesus, therefore, would have to capture this Divine-Human nature and that is impossible. Therefore, the iconoclasts argue, all icons were false and should be smashed.  If it were not impossible but achieved, the icon would be a blasphemous, an Idol clearly forbidden by the 2nd Commandment.  To argue the image captured only the historical figure of Jesus would also be blasphemous and heretical because such an image would be an attempt to divide the two natures of Jesus; that too is impossible.  
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Last Updated on Monday, 14 January 2013 16:39
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Did the early Church use Art? (the Iconoclastic Controversy) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Thursday, 04 December 2008 15:32
A common theory is that the earliest Church, on the basis of the Second Commandment, prohibited religious art as idolatrous.  Part of the rationale is that the first Christians had been Jews who would naturally follow the Jewish practice of forbidding religious art in their synagogues.  I can not find any writings from the first centuries that convince me the theory is true.  It is based on assumptions and arguments from a much later period.
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Last Updated on Monday, 14 January 2013 18:46
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Is Christian Art forbidden by the 2nd Commandment? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Thursday, 04 December 2008 15:19
Idolatry is forbidden by God.  Are icons idols?  Are icons forbidden by the Second Commandment?  Are all works of art forbidden by God?

Exo 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me, [i.e.- in front of me where I can see it or above me in importance].  “You shall not make for yourself a carved image [A (pesel) is an image that was carved out of wood or stone. The Law was concerned with a statue that would be made for the purpose of worship, an idol, and not any ordinary statue]   or any likeness [The word (tÿmunah) refers to the pattern from which the (pesel) is constructed; It would convey “you shall not make an image, neither shall you conceive a form” for worship of anything that is in heaven above or that is on the earth beneath or that is in the water below. v.5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, responding to  the transgression of fathers by dealing with children to the third and fourth generations of those who reject me.

The context is God’s jealousy, His insistence on absolute and undivided loyalty from the Israelites, His insistence that he alone be worshipped by Israel.  What is forbidden is the worship of other gods instead of God.  He will punish the Israelites who reject Him and bow down and worship any other god.

The Second Commandment and other texts very clearly forbid the making of idols or any work of art representing a false God that may become an object of worship.  God alone is to be worshipped.  Does that mean, that representations of God are acceptable and not forbidden?  Is any work of art acceptable as long as it does not become an object of worship?  Is reverence the same as worship?
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Last Updated on Monday, 14 January 2013 18:45
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