In the last blog, we established that neither God, Moses, nor the scriptures are iconoclastic. Without a doubt, the Mosaic Law was intended as a firm safeguard against idolatry, but the ancient Jewish temple itself was an image, an icon of the heavenly one complete with various carvings of things on earth and in heaven, including cherubim. Archeologists have discovered paintings of Old Testament scenes lining the walls of the Jewish synagogues during the time of Christ in the Greco-Roman world.
Yet, in all of this, God was never depicted. Why? Because God’s nature is invisible and incomprehensible. One cannot paint God because God cannot be painted — at least not in His divine nature.
About 2,000 years ago, God became incarnate and mysteriously wrapped His divinity in humanity. If someone had a smartphone, they could have taken a picture of God and texted it to their friends. Since such technology did not exist, people settled with paintings of the God-man Jesus Christ.
Continuing the Jewish tradition of lining places of worship with images (icons), Christians had paintings of our Lord, His Mother, various saints, and numerous scenes from the Gospels. Continue reading Iconography and Idolatry – Part 2