Iconography and Idolatry, Part 1

holy friday, good friday OrthodoxWhen walking into an Orthodox Church for the first time, an inquirer may be surprised to see the walls covered with images (Greek “ikon”).  Perhaps even more shocking would be the sight of Orthodox Christians kissing and reverencing the icons in various ways.

Is not the second of the Ten Commandments iconoclastic?

You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. (Exodus 20:4-5)

The answer to that question is no.  Neither God nor the commandments of the Torah [1] are iconoclastic when understood properly.  After all, God created the first icon, and it was of Himself:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image [ikon], according to Our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26)

The word “icon” simply means “image,” so in the Greek Septuagint (Old Testament), God made “ikon” when He made man. [2] Continue reading Iconography and Idolatry, Part 1

Intro to Iconography – part 2

So, you’re visiting an Eastern Orthodox Church and you notice that people are coming in, approaching paintings of dead guys and gals, bowing slightly, and then kissing them.  As a Protestant, you know this must be idolatry, right?  What else could it be?

(If you missed Part 1, click here to read it)

A Lesson from Japan

Continue reading Intro to Iconography – part 2

Christ’s Descent into Hades – icon explanation

This is one of my favorite Eastern Orthodox icons.  It is referred to as Christ’s Descent into HadesAnastasis or Resurrection Icon.  It is the primary icon of Pascha (Easter).

Some key features: