(i·co·nol·o·gy- n. The branch of art history that deals with the description, analysis, and interpretation of icons or iconic representations.)
You can read Part I here.
Professor Demetrios Tselingidis
The Church’s iconography has theological presuppositions. It is a means and instrument for the expression of its dogma and spiritual experience; because it summarizes Orthodox beliefs and the life of the Church, it constitutes the expression par excellence of Orthodoxy. The icons of the Orthodox Church are symbols (symbola) with the meaning that they contribute (symballoun) to the understanding of the reality which they express. As “symbols of Faith”, they de-objectify the faith and thus contribute to the preservation of its transcendental character.
The iconography of Christ is founded on the reality of the Incarnation. Thus, the icon of Christ verifies and proclaims his becoming a human being. Christ is represented hypostatically; that is, his human body is not depicted separately from the hypostasis of the Divine Word which is united with it. By representing Christ as He appeared after the Resurrection, the Church verifies that His human nature did not thereby become uncreated, but remained within the bounds of creation. The visible character of Christ in His icon leads the faithful to the experience of the presence of His unseen Divinity.
The portrayal of Christ in icons provides the Christological foundation for the iconographic depiction of the saints. Through the icons of the saints, the truth of the Church about man and his salvation is imparted, the new man in Christ is made manifest, and saving work of Jesus Christ is verified empirically to those persons who remain living members of His sacramental Body.
The Church rejects the iconoclastic belief that the relationship of the faithful with God is exclusively spiritual-intellectual (noetic). The whole of its teaching about the icons is connected with the Incarnation, which imparts worth to the entire human being, in both his sensible and spiritual aspects. Within the Church its icons reflect the psychosomatic unity of the human person, makes its glorified members present to our senses, and lead the faithful through familiarization with the depicted prototypes to the adoption of their sanctified way of life.
To be continued…