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The general absence of naturalism within iconography, Quenot notes, “serves to emphasize the spiritualization of which is taking place.” This includes a lack of natural three-dimensional depth perspective.
“This refusal of depth is illustrated and demonstrated very well by figures which generally stand out against a plain gold-leaf background, with neither decoration nor background scenery.
Viewed in such a way outside of either time or space, they command our attention by their spiritual presence,” Quenot states. Applied to the Icon of Christ Sinai, there are two additional ways in which one may understand and interpret the two sides to Christ’s face.
The first is that the two-dimensional side presents Christ of eternity outside of time and space, whereas the three-dimensional side presents Christ incarnated into the time and space of creation.
The word Pantocrator is Greek, meaning “Ruler of All.” The image expresses the central reality of the Christian faith; the Divine Majesty of the creator and ruler of all the world, made flesh and therefore visible to us in the person of Christ Jesus our redeemer.
This is the oldest known icon of Christ Pantocrator, written in the sixth century and preserved in the remote monastery of St. The location enabled the image to survive the destruction of most icons during the iconoclastic era in Byzantine history, (726 to 815 AD.). There are several points of interest in the above description of the Icon of Christ Sinai.
The first is that the icon is one of a handful in existence today that precedes the Second Council of Nicaea (787 AD), having escaped destruction during previous periods of iconoclasm.
A second—and not unrelated—point is that the icon dates to the sixth century and is the oldest preserved icon of Christ Pantocrator, as well as the oldest known panel icon. Of even more interest is the icon’s theological significance. Christology is the area of theology devoted to explaining and understanding Jesus Christ.
That the icon portrays Christ’s face is not without theological significance.
As noted by Michel Quenot in —because of sin.” Returning to the description proffered by the Paracletos Monastery, this icon presents the various dualities of Christ.
Besides the contrast between the severe side portraying Christ as judge and the serene side portraying Christ as saviour, one notices the Gospel side of the icon is three-dimensional and painted (or “written” as we say in the East) with a certain level of realism while the facial features on the opposite side are flattened and two-dimensional.
The Icon of Christ Pantocrator, from the Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai, is one of the most profound theological images of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The icon is not just a nice sacred image that adorns churches and homes.
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Rather, it speaks a theological truth about Our Lord Jesus Christ.