The Image of God the Father in Orthodox Theology and Iconography: and Other Studies

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Fr. Steven Bigham
drawings by Alain Vallée
Publication Data: Torrance, CA: Oakwood Publications
Format: softcover
Number of Pages: xii + 260
Dimensions (l × w × h): 21.5 cm × 13.7 cm × 1.4 cm
Additional Information: black-and-white illustrations
ISBN: 1‒879038‒15‒3

Fr. Steven Bigham
drawings by Alain Vallée

“My interest in this particular subject resulted from a seemingly apparent contradiction, apparent at least to me: Church tradition clearly states that the Incarnation is the only basis on which a portrait of the invisible God can be painted, and yet ‘icons’ of the Father and the Trinity abound in Orthodox Churches, along with elaborate theological justifications. How is this possible, and how did this situation develop historically? The essay on the image of God the Father is an attempt to answer these and other questions. [...]I offer these studies to those who are interested in iconography and who want to deepen their understanding of this sublime art. [...]I hope thereby to contribute to a greater understanding of Orthodoxy’s ‘theology in color.’”


I. The Image of God the Father in Orthodox Theology and Iconography
1. Introduction
2. “Seeing God” in the Bible
   Old Testament Texts about Seeing God
      The Angel of the Lord
      The Divine Energies
      Direct Visions
      Texts Against Seeing God
   New Testament Texts About Seeing God
   Conclusion About the Biblical Texts
3. “Seeing God” in the Fathers
4. The Iconoclastic Period
5. The Liturgical Witness
   The Invisible Made Visible by the Incarnation
   Christ the Word Made Known in the Old Testament
   Christ “Seen” in Old Testament Visions
   The Incarnation Fulfills Old Testament Signs and Figures
6. Three Russian Councils
   The Stoglav Council of Moscow, 1551
   The Council of Moscow, 1553–54
   The Great Council of Moscow, 1666–67
7. The Western Attitude
8. The Evidence of Art History
9. Conclusion
10. Notes
II. Canons on Iconography
III. The Not-So-Penetrating Look
The Problem
Psychological Background
Doctrinal Background
The Problem Focused
IV. Death and Orthodox Iconography
The Doctrine of Salvation
General Considerations
Specific Examples
Eastern and Western Art
V. Allegorical Personification in Orthodox Iconography
The Pagan Background
The Christian Background
The Problem
The Canonical Tradition
VI. Orthodox Iconography & the Non-Orthodox
Orthodox Iconography & the Non-Orthodox: Notes
VII. Iconography and St. Gregory Palamas
The Doctrine of Essence and Energies
General Principles
VIII. “Man as the Image of God” in St. Gregory of Nyssa and in Orthodox Iconography
St. Gregory’s Doctrine of Man
Critique of St. Gregory’s Position in the Light of Iconography
Sources of Illustrations
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