The Resurrection Icon and the World Without Charles Darwin
It offers information for the “objective” student of Russian, Greek, and Balkan icons. Where we learn, unpacking the meaning of the icon:
At the bottom is an elaborated version of the “old” image, with Christ standing on the gates of Hades and grasping Adam by the hand, as Eve and other Old Testament women kneel before him. John the Forerunner and King David are already in the crowd that is moving up toward Paradise in a long line. The huge mouth in which Eve kneels shows the manner in which the “Jaws of Hell/Hades” were depicted at that time, like a great monster with his mouth open.
At the top of the line going to Paradise is the Repentant Thief Rakh, holding his cross that will guarantee him admission if he is questioned, because Jesus himself had promised him “Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” At upper right we see Rakh after he has been let through the doors of Paradise, being welcomed by Enoch and Elijah, the only Old Testament figures allowed in Paradise previously.
Whatever we may think of the details of the theology, compare it with the author’s view:
Of course all of this, in its thinking and imagery, is very “pre-Darwin.” The people who developed this iconography did not know the questionable sources of the texts they used, nor did they know that the world was far more than a few thousand years old, and that there never was an Adam and Eve as depicted in those texts and in the icons. Actually, if one thinks about it, the scientific knowledge of evolution quite destroys the whole traditional notion of the Fall of Adam and the need for a redemptive sacrifice. But icons are not from the world of science, they are from the world of imagination and belief, and in pre-scientific times they gave people an explanation for why things were the way things were; not a scientifically accurate or defendable explanation, but those were the times.
Looking at such icons, then, is not so much a “window into Heaven” as the saying goes, as it is a window into pre-scientific thinking and culture. More.
Why is this project not funded by Templeton?
See also: Suzan Mazur: NASA, tax dollars, space aliens, and religion… Of course, it’s yet to be determined that most religious people have much invested in the matter one way or the other, relative to their irreligious neighbours.
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