Thursday, June 5, 2008


I've finished the following books in the last while:

Early Christian Attitudes toward Images - Steven Bigham

From the Orthodox Research Institute:
For all iconophiles, that is, those who accept the dogma of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, but especially the Orthodox who claim that the icon has a sacramental and mystical character, it is naturally disquieting to hear the claim that the early Christians were aniconic and iconophobic. If this claim is true, the theology and the veneration of the icon are seriously undermined. It is, therefore, natural for iconophiles to attempt to disprove the thesis according to which the early Christians had no images whatsoever (aniconic) because they believed them to be idols (iconophobic). It is equally natural for iconophiles to want to substantiate, as much as this is possible, their deep intuition that the roots of Christian iconography go back to the apostolic age. This study weakens the notion and credibility of the alleged hostility of the early Christians to non-idolatrous images, providing a more balanced evaluation of this question.
I found this book to be informative, both in terms of presenting some of the historical texts involved in the debate, and by delving into some contemporary archeological discoveries which shed new light upon various theories. The next book on icons which I plan on reading is: Images of the Divine: The Theology of Icons at the Seventh Ecumenical Council - A. Giakalis

The Monk of Mount Athos - Archimandrite Sophrony

An excerpt from the book:
What does the Christian understand by sin?
Sin is primarily a metaphysical phenonemon whose roots lie in the mystic depths of man's spiritual nature. The essence of sin consists not in the infringement of ethical standards but in a falling away from the divine eternal life for which man was made and to which, by his very nature, he is called.
Sin is committed first of all in the secret depths of the human spirit but its consequences distort the whole individual. A sin will reflect on a man's psychological and physical condition, on his outward appearance, on his personal destiny. Sin will, inevitably, pass beyond the boundaries of the sinner's own life to burden all humanity and thus affect the fate of the whole world. The sin of our forefather Adam was not the only sin of cosmic significance. Every sin, secret or manifest, committed by each one of us, has a bearing on the rest of the universe.

This was an exceptional book, although a scant 124 pages in length. This book is packed with profound insight into the Orthodox mind as acquired and lived by St. Silouan (click on the photo to read more about him).

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