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By Moshe Barasch

Over the centuries, eu debate in regards to the nature and standing of pictures of God and sacred figures has usually disenchanted the status quo and shaken societies to their middle. Out of this debate, an identifiable doctrine has emerged of the picture more often than not and of the divine snapshot particularly. This interesting paintings concentrates on those old arguments, from the interval of overdue Antiquity as much as the nice and vintage defenses of pictures through St. John of Damascus and Theodore of Studion. Icon extends past the rapid matters of faith, philosophy, aesthetics, background, and paintings, to interact them all.

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A learne d an d distin guished comedian , no w ol d an d decrepit , wa s dail y playin g th e mimi c i n the Capitol, a s though the gods would gladly be spectators of that which men had ceased to care about. .. Ther e sit certain women in the Capitol who think they are beloved by Jupiter. . 14 Augustine her e sums u p a long history . Prayin g before a statue of th e god is , of course , an old custom, and it is frequently mentione d in Greek literature. "16 O r se e wha t Euripide s tell s th e reader .

I t remains , how ever, tru e tha t ther e i s littl e i n classica l literatur e t o suppor t a n explici t separation o f divin e image s fro m th e image s o f othe r being s o r objects , and thus to make them into a class of their own. Fo r Plato, one suspects, the imag e o f a god woul d b e doubtful, o r downright false , fo r th e sam e reason tha t th e image o f a n ordinar y object , a bed o r a table, i s insuffi cient o r false . Moder n scholars , on e i s no t surprise d t o find, hav e als o treated th e divin e image s mainl y a s work s o f art , an d hav e thu s pai d relatively littl e attention t o th e problem s specifi c t o thi s particula r typ e of images.

Der byzantinische Bilderstreit: Sozialoekonomische Voraussetzungen, ideologische Grundlagen, geschichtliche Wirkungen (Leipzig, 1980) , pp. 73—82 , is a concise statemen t of hi s position. G . von Rad , Theologie des Alten Testaments, I (Munich, 1966) , pp. 225-32 , makes an important contribution . (Ther e is als o a n English translatio n of this work. ) W . Zimmerli , "Da s Bilderverbo t i n de r Geschicht e de s alte n Israel: Goldene s Kalb , eherne Schlange , Mazzebe n un d Lade, " in th e author's Studien zur alttestamentlichen Theologie und Prophetie, I I (Munich, 1974), PP- 247—60, is particularly instructive in showing the complexity of trends prevailing in biblical times.

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