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#132576 11/22/03 05:27 PM
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In the December, 2003 edition of St. Anthony's Messenger, there is a nice article on the iconographer, Mark Czarnecki. On page 30, there is a glorious icon of St. Luke painting the "first icon" of the Theotokos. (I apologize but this icon is not available on their website.) What is interesting about this icon is that it portrays Mary with the infant Christ posing for the icon while an angel guides his hand.

So I ask, do you think Luke is known as the first iconographer because he actually painted (I'm sorry, wrote)an icon or because of his more expansive portrayal of the Theotokos in chapter 1? Did he "write" an icon or did he "write" a description of an icon.

Are iconographic traditions literal or allegorical? Which is more important?

John

#132577 11/25/03 01:03 PM
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Greetings in Christ, John

As a student of iconography, I've often heard of St. Luke being the "first" iconographer. Personally whether this is true or not, I find it an acceptable tradition. Since the source/writer is irrevalent, it is the icon itself whose importance is deemed worthy.

Quote
Are iconographic traditions literal or allegorical? Which is more important?
Those iconographers who take purposeful liberty with iconic traditions lose the spiritual connections. The traditions of creating icons are not from man but from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The representations of icon traditions are allegorical. I am continuously amazed at the depth and truth of their symbolism.

However, simplistic as it may seem, unless one is strictly copying a master iconographer, the literal traditions written are always reflective of an iconographer's spiritual state. This is part of human nature. Perhaps this is one reason why some icons, produced only as a $$$ business, lack the expressions of the divine mysteries.

I don't know if I've contributed anything to your post John. I ask for your prayers in my struggles.

#132578 11/25/03 03:18 PM
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Dear John,

Well, some of the earliest missionary traditions in Ethiopia affirm that Christian missionaries bore icons of Christ and the Theotokos on their journeys.

According to that tradition, when the missionaries spoke of Christ and the Divine Incarnation when He Who is Unseen and Unseeable became Man - the first question to pop up from their audiences was, "Then what did He look like?"

Early Christian tradition as well speaks of King Abgar of Edessa, the Veil of Veronica and the like.

"He who sees Me, sees the Father" our Lord said. The Face of Christ is the Face of God.

Christianity made iconography not only a possibility, but a spiritual imperative.

St Luke was, as we know, formerly a pagan physician from Syria.

And one of the skills of physicians at the time was the ability to draw as they studied the medical knowledge of the time (which could have been superior in a number of ways to what we have today) on the basis of diagrams and drawings.

In addition, the pagan tradition from which St Luke came from promoted images of deities - all in all, I have no difficulty accepting St Luke as the first iconographer.

Sinfully yours,

Alex

#132579 11/25/03 04:28 PM
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Alex said;

"And one of the skills of physicians at the time was the ability to draw as they studied the medical knowledge of the time (which could have been superior in a number of ways to what we have today) on the basis of diagrams and drawings."

That hurts. Alex, I don't know if you remember that I am a physician and I can barely draw a stick figure.

But I do share your love of iconography. The profundity of the iconic image and its theology blows me away.

There is something about those ancient physicians and their healing powers. It was not about their medicines really. Rather, it was about their relationship with the other person, their recognition of the holiness of the individual, of the importance of the patient.

I think this is Luke's special gift. To me at least, he seems to have that gift of recognition of personal holiness and its transformed nature.

This Luke is the first iconographer.

John

#132580 11/25/03 05:15 PM
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Dear Doctor John!

Then there is the matter of the way physicians write prescriptions these days . . . wink

I would never get rid of my GP, but, truth be told, I've gotten a lot out of my naturpathic doctor.

And yes, my naturopath spends a lot of time talking to me and reviewing my way of life, what I eat, what internet discussion boards I'm on smile )I think she's now a lurker here . . .

There is, I feel, a comprehensive healing process involved with that alternative form of medical healing.

And it was basically what medical healing in the old days was all about as well.

And, of course, "doctor" simply means "teacher" and preventative medicine was way more emphasized in the old days. I think we've also lost touch with the herbal wisdom of the past that was once so developed among monastic communities.

But I don't fault any doctor treating me for failing to draw a straight line . . .

I only ask that they can WALK a straight line before checking me out . . . . smile

Alex

#132581 11/25/03 07:34 PM
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Alex,

We are definitely wandering from topic but, since you brought it up...

One of the things I have been fascinated with lately is the different philosophical underpinnings associated with various health care professionals.

For example, allopathic physicians ascribe to the scientific method and then apply science and statistics to their patients. Naturopaths base their therapies on "balance". Chiropractors base theirs on right alignment. Traditionally, nurses have based theirs on caring although more and more they are acting like physicians. Social workeers, psychologists, and the like ascribe to one or more school of thought, Gestalt, Cognitive Behavioral, etc.

What does your sociologist self think of this?

John

#132582 11/25/03 08:13 PM
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Dear Doctor John,

So you're saying I need a chiropractor? wink

Aligned with the topic or not, I think you raise a most important and interesting point with respect to our general vocation of healing.

I think so much of what Christianity is about has to do with healing on different planes of human existence.

Was there not a group of Christians in Egypt called the "Therapeutae?"

And the belief that healing of the soul would spill over into healing of various physical ailments?

For me, sociology teaches that true healing is not only a personal, inward reintegration, but it also has to do with a social reintegration within the different forms of human and Divine community.

The Incarnation of God the Word is, first and foremost, a proclamation that the rift between God and man is healed - precisely because God has taken on our nature and has become man in Jesus Christ.

And salvation and Theosis is about our reintegration into the life of the Trinity, the great Divine Community.

And we do this precisely within the context of the salvific community of the Church.

Alex

#132583 11/26/03 12:21 AM
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Alex;

I think you perceive the exact point that I do. The secular world has dissected knowledge into various components, disciplines, approaches, schools, professions, and so on. But all that is really necessary was and is known through the church. We utilize centering prayer--this would be called biofeedback; we contemplate icons as we pray--this would be called distraction technique; we admit to something greater than ourselves--this would be considered cognitive behavioral; we fast, avoid meat etc--this would be considered a healthy cardiac diet. We recognize the fulfilment of God's promise in the present moment as we await the eschaton--if you take "God" out of the equation, this would be called Gestalt therapy. We seek our fellow man communally--this has resulted in communism, socialism, democracy, social welfare, and other progressive political systems.

I guess what I am saying is that if you take God out, dissect out some small parcel, and of course use big words, you too can be a doctor (MD, PhD, or some other --D). wink

John

#132584 11/26/03 12:26 AM
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Dear Doctor John,

Actually, as a doctor of sociology, I broke company with the secular isms of socialism etc. back in university!

God was what was missing from the equation. Without God, we are left with human ideologies that are imposed on the human system from without.

I do believe that the great social thinkers are closer to the Church Fathers than they acknowledge.

They love critiquing the social institution of the Church.

But what they often fail to see is what is behind the human side of the Church.

And ultimately, they see a human nature that is somehow "perfect" without Grace - all its failings are due to society's impact.

That, as I see it, is sociology's "Original Sin."

God bless, Doctor!

Alex

#132585 11/26/03 12:54 AM
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And to you good Doctor;

Good night and God Bless!

John

#132586 11/26/03 01:05 AM
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And to you good Doctor;

Good night and God Bless!

John

#132587 01/13/04 05:10 PM
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Interesting, thank you for the information.

#132588 01/13/04 09:00 PM
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I respond to your initial questions.

"So I ask, do you think Luke is known as the first iconographer because he actually painted (I'm sorry, wrote)an icon or because of his more expansive portrayal of the Theotokos in chapter 1? Did he "write" an icon or did he "write" a description of an icon.

Are iconographic traditions literal or allegorical? Which is more important?"

Saint Luke in known as the first iconographer in the Orthodox tradition. No need to be sorry for the use ot the word "painted" since most iconographer's typically use the word painted when referring to the rendering of an icon. The use of the terminology "write" is really term that is focused on that is really insignificant. What is significant is that the work is done with obedience to Christ and with humility known in the traditions of the Orthodox Church and faith.

The Russian word pisat, means both painting and writing. To quote a learned friend regarding a discussion on the matter and the difficulty with with the limits of the current english language.

"Shifting the locus of the problem from the difficult English word, writing (as in writing an ikon), back to its source in Old Greek, recalls as the Archbishop has said, a history more than a writing. Yet, the Greek meaning is really neither of these. This then shifts our focus back to the Old Greek that yields much more sense.

Even in Liddell-Scott (which is not Old Greek), istorikos is a scientific term, focusing on that which is exact and precise. Then, istorioyrafia is embedded in this scientific meaning when it refers, not just to history, but history writing. For based upon the Old Greek word, istor (ISTOR), the emphasis primarily, "denotes an action, and only secondarily a state." [Kittel; III:391"

Actually the original and the first Icon of Theotokos painted by St. Luke was made of wax and mastic and convex in shape and I don't know how you paint with wax exactly. So I don't think the term "write" or"paint" really matters to much as the icon is the important matter at hand.

I sometimes paint with a Greek friend who visited the Monastery of Mega Spilaion in Greece who conveyed the information to me regarding the shape.

Another friend who resides in Greece provided this information.

The Monastery of Mega Spilaion:

This monastery is built over a large cave, at the base of a large rock cliff. For this reason, it was named Mega Spilaion, or the Monastery of the Great Cave. It was founded in 362 AD over the spot where the icon of the Theotokos, painted by St. Luke, was found."

"Moreover, St. Luke is recognized as one of the first iconographers of Christianity. He used his talent in art to depict the Virgin Mary holding the Christ-child. Upon seeing the icon, the Theotokos gave St. Luke her blessing to continue with the depiction, which he later completed and presented to the Mother of God as a gift. Currently, this icon resides at the Mega Spileion monastery in Greece. Participants of Ionian Village visit this monastery to learn about St. Luke�s contribution to iconography, as well as of the icon�s discovery after being hidden in a cave and guarded by a beast for so long."

Hope this helps.

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin

#132589 01/13/04 11:24 PM
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Dear Matthew,

An excellent explanation!

And I promise to stick to kissing icons, my spiritual Father's hand and my wife - only!

Alex

#132590 01/14/04 04:59 AM
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Dear "Orthodox Catholic",

Far be it for anything that I might write to restrict your feelings and expessions. I tend to think that a complete renouncement by an adherent of universal love, would include the the mirror. The kiss of peace seems to usually suffice irrespective of the nature of the recepient.

No offence, since one of reflections that I have noticed is sometimes not limited by discretion.

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin

As defined in a dictionary.
ad�her�ent
noun (plural ad�her�ents)
supporter: somebody who supports a particular cause or leader

adjective
sticky: able to stick firmly to a surface or an object ( formal )


dis�cre�tion [ di skr�sh�n ]

noun

1. ability to avoid offense: the good judgment and sensitivity needed to avoid embarrassing or upsetting others


2. freedom to decide: the freedom or authority to judge something or make a decision about it
Tipping is left to the customer�s discretion.


3. confidentiality: the ability to keep sensitive information secret


[14th century. Via French discr�tion from the Latin stem discretion- �separation,� later �discernment,� from discret- , past participle stem of discernere (see discern).]

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