john_of_damascus,_three_treatises_on_the_divine_images

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Unformatted text preview: ST VLADIMIR’S SEMINARY PRESS Popular Patristics Series . S T 10 N O F DA M A S C U S Editor IOHNBEHR Three Treatises on the @ivine Ymages Translation and Introduction by ANDREW LOUTH First Edition ST VLADIMIR’S SEMINARY PRESS CRESTWOOD, NEW YORK 10707 2003 Library of Congress Cataloging-in~Publication Data John, of Damascus, Saint. [On the divine images. English] Three treatises on the divine images / St. John of Damascus ; translation and introduction by Andrew Louth. — ist ed. p. cm. — (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press “popular patristics” series) Includes bibliographical references (p. ). ISBN 0—88141—245—7 i.Icons——Cult. 2.1conoclasm. I.Louth,Andrew. I[.Title. IIliSeries. 811651630513 2003 246' .53—dc21 2002031920 COPYRIGHT © 2003 ST VLADIMIR’S SEMINARY PRESS 57s Scarsdale Rd., Crestwood, NY 10707 1-800—204—2665 ISBN 0—88141—245—7 All Rights Reserved PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Introduction Treatise I Treatise II Treatise III Bibliography Table of Contents TREATISE I Defense against those who attack the holy images by our Father among the Saints John Damascene 1 It is necessary for us, always conscious of our unworthiness, to keep silence and confess our sins before God, but since all things are good in their season, and I see the Church, which God built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Christ his Son being the head cornerstone, battered as by the surging sea overwhelming it with wave upon wave, tossed about and troubled by the grievous assault of wicked spirits, and Christ’s tunic, woven from top to bot- tom, rent, Which the children of the ungodly have arrogantly sought to divide, and his body cut to pieces, which is the people of God and the tradition 0f the Church that has held sway from the beginning, I do not believe it right to keep silence and bridle my tongue, paying attention to the threatening judgment that says: “if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him,”1 and “if you see the sword coming and do not warn your brother, his blood I shall require at your hand.”2 Compelled to speak by a fear that cannot be borne, l have come forward, not putting the majesty of kings before the truth, but lHeb 10:38, citing Hub 2:4 (LXX). 2Ezek 33:6, 8. 20 JOHN OF DAMASCUS hearing David, the divine ancestor, say, “I spoke before kings and was not ashamed,”3 goaded more and more to speak. For the word of a king exercises terror over his subjects. For there are few who would utterly neglect the royal constitutions established from above, who know that the king reigns upon earth from above, and as such the laws of kings hold sway. 2 Therefore, holding firm in thought to the preservation of the ordinances of the Church, through which salvation has come to us, as a kind of keel or foundation, I have brought my discourse to the starting point, as it were urging on a well—bridled horse. For it seems to me a calamity, and more than a calamity, that the Church, adorned with such privileges and arrayed with traditions received from above by the most godly men, should return to the poor ele— ments, afraid where no fear was,4 and, as if it did not know the true God, be suspicious of the snare of idolatry and therefore decline in the smallest degree from perfection, thus bearing a disfiguring mark in the midst of a face exceeding fair, thus harming the whole by the slightest injury to its beauty. For what is small is not small, if it pro— duces something big, so the slightest disturbance of the tradition of the Church that has held sway from the beginning is no small mat- ter, that tradition made known to us by our forefathers, whose con- duct we should look to and whose faith we should imitate. 3 Therefore I entreat first the Lord Almighty, to whom everything is naked and laid open, about whom we speak, who knows the purity of my humble intention in this and the innocence of my purpose, to give me words when I open my mouth and to take up in his own hands the reins of my mind and to draw it to himself, making me to proceed in his presence on an straight path, neither declining to the seductive right nor knowing the clearly visible leftdand together 3P5 118:46. 4Ps 52:6. _-._...-._ r-w- M Treatise I 21 with Him all the people of God, the holy nation, the royal priest- hood, with the good shepherd of Christ’s rational flock, who repre- sents in himself the hierarchy of Christ, to receive my discourse with kindness, paying no attention to my little worth, nor expecting e10- quence in my words, for I am only too aware of my inadequacy, but rather considering the power of my arguments (“for the kingdom of heaven is not in word, but in power”); for my purpose is not to con— quer, but to stretch out a hand to fight for the truth, a hand stretched out in the power of freewill. Calling on the help of the one who is truth in person, I will make a start on my discourse. 4 (cf. 111.6) I know what the One who cannot lie said: “the Lord your God is one Lord,”6 and “you shall venerate the Lord your God and him alone shall you worship,”7 and “there shall be for you no other gods,” and “you shall not make any carved likeness, of any— thing in heaven above or on the earth below,”9 and “all who vener— ate carved [images] shall be put to shame,”10 and “gods, who did not make heaven and earth, shall be destroyed,”11 and these words in a similar manner: “God, who of old spoke to the fathers through the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us in his Only—begotten Son, through whom he made the ages.”12 I know the One who said: “This is eternal life, that they might know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom you sent.”13 I believe in one God, the one begin— ning of all things, himself without beginning, uncreated, imperish- able and immortal, eternal and everlasting, incomprehensible, bodiless, invisible, uncircumscribed, without form, one being 51 Cor 4:20. 6Deut 6:4. 7Deut 6:13. 8Deut 5:7. 9Deut 5:8. 1"Ps 96:7. UIer 10:11. 12l-leb 1:1—2. 13In 17:3. 22 JOHN OF DAMASCUS beyond being, divinity beyond divinity, in three persons, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, and I worship this one alone, and to this one alone I offer the veneration of my worship. I venerate one God, one divinity, but also I worship a trinity of persons, God the Father and God the Son incarnate and God the Holy Spirit, one God. I do not venerate the creation instead of me creator, but I venerate the Cre— ator, created for my sake, who came down to his creation without being lowered or weakened, that he might glorify my nature and bring about communion with the divine nature. I venerate together with the King and God the purple robe of his body, not asa garment, nor as a fourth person (God forbid!), but as called to be and to have become unchangeably equal to God, and the source of anointing. For the nature of the flesh did not become divinity, but as the Word became flesh immutably, remaining what it was, so also the flesh became the Word without losing what it was, being rather made equal to the Word hypostatically. Therefore I am emboldened to depict the invisible God, not as invisible, but as he became visible for our sake, by participation in flesh and blood. I do not depict the invisible divinity, butI depict God made visible in the flesh. For if it is impossible to depict the soul, how much more God, who gives the soul its immateriality? 5 (cf. 111.7) But they say, God said through Moses the lawgiver, “You shall venerate the Lord your God and him alone shall you wor— ship,” and “you shallnnot make any likeness, of anything in heaven or on the earth.” Brothers, those who do not know the Scriptures truly err, for as they do not know that “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life,”” they do not interpret the spirit hidden beneath the letter. To these I might rightly say, the One who taught you this taught also what follows. Learn, how the lawgiver interprets this when he says in Deuteronomy, “And the Lord spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of his words and you did not see any likeness, M2 Cor 3:6. Treatise I 23 but only a voice,” and a little later, “take good heed to your soul, for you did not see a likeness on the day, when the Lord spoke to you on Horeb in the mountain in the midst of the fire. Beware lest you act lawlessly and make for yourselves a carved likeness, anyimage, a like— ness of a male or a female, a likeness of any beast that is upon the earth, a likeness of any winged bird” and so on, and after a little, “Beware lest you look up in the sky and see the sun and the moon and the stars and all the order of heaven, and being led astray ven- erate them and worship them.”15 6 (cf. 11.8, 111.7) You see that the single purpose of this is that one should not worship, or offer the veneration of worship, to creation instead of the Creator, but only to the One who fashioned all. There— fore everywhere it concerns worship by veneration. Again it says, “There shall be for you no other gods beside me, You shall not make for yourself a carved [image] nor any likeness, you shall not venerate them nor shall you worship them, for I am the lord your God,”16 and again “You shall tear down their altars, and break their pillars, and cut down their sacred groves, and burn up the carved [images] of their gods with fire, for you shall not venerate any other god,”17 and a lit— tle later “you shall not make for yourself any gods of cast metal.”18 7 (11.8, 111.7) You see, how it was on account of idolatry that he prohibited the fashioning of images, and that it is impossible to depict God who is incommensurable and uncircumscribable and invisible. “For,” it says, “you have not seen his form,”19 just as also Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said, “Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation of human art and imagination?” 15Deut 4:12, 15—17, 19. 16Deut 527—9. l7Exod 34:13—14. 18Exod 34:17. 19In 5:37. 20Acts 17:29. 24 JOHN_OF DAMASCUS 8 (cf. 111.8) It was, therefore, for the Jews, on account of their slid— ing into idolatry, that these things were ordained by law. To speak theologically,“ however, we, to whom it has been granted, fleeing superstitious error, to come to be purely with God, and having rec- ognized the truth, to worship God alone and be greatly enriched with the perfection of the knowledge of God, and who, passing beyond childhood to reach maturity, are no longer under a custo- dian, have received the habit of discrimination from God and know what can be depicted and what cannot be delineated in an image. “For,” it says, “you have not seen his form.” What wisdom the legis- lator has! How could the invisible be depicted? How could the unimaginable be portrayed? How could one.without measure or size or limit be drawn? How could the formless be made? How could the bodiless be depicted in color? What therefore is this that is revealed in riddles? For it is clear that when you see the bodiless become human for your sake, then you may accomplish the figure of a human form; when the invisible becomes visible in the flesh, then you may depict the likeness of something seen; when one who, by transcending his own nature, is bodiless, formless, incommensu— rable, without magnitude or size, that is, one who is in the form of God, taking the form of a slave, by this reduction to quantity and magnitude puts on the characteristics of a body, then depict him on a board and set up to View the One who has accepted to be seen. Depict his ineffable descent, his birth from the Virgin, his being bap- tized in the Jordan, his transfiguration on Tabor, what he endured to secure our freedom from passion, the miracles, symbols of his divine nature, performed by the divine activity through the activity of the flesh, the saving cross, the tomb, the resurrection, the ascent into heaven. Depict all these in words and in colors. Do not be afraid, do not fear; 1 know the different forms of veneration. Abraham vener— ated the sons of Emmor, godless men suffering from ignorance of 21That is, to speak in the manner of St Gregory the Theologian. The first part of this sentence follows Hom. 39.8.1—2 (ed. Moreschini, 162) quite closely. | l 1 Trea tise I 2 5 God, when he acquired the cave as a double inheritance for a tomb.22 Jacob venerated Esau his brother and Pharaoh the Egyptian, bowing in veneration over the head of his staff.23 They venerated, they did not worship. Jesus24 the son of Nave and Daniel venerated the angel of God, but they did not worship.25 The veneration of worship is one thing, veneration offered in honor to those who excel on account of something worthy is another. 9 But since this discourse is about the image and its veneration, let us elucidate their meaning. An image is a likeness depicting an archetype, but having some difference from it- the ima e is not like the archetype in every way. The Son is a living, natural and undevi— ating image of the Father, bearing in himself the whole Father, equal to him in every respect, differing only in being caused. For the Father is the natural cause, and the Son is caused; for the Father is not from the Son, but the Son from the Father. For [the Son] is from him, that is the Father who begets him, without having his being after him. 1 0 There are also in God images and paradigms of what he is going to bring about, that is his will that is before eternity and thus eter— nal. For the divine is in every respect unchanging, and there is in it no change or shadow of turning. Saint Dionysius, who had great insight in matters divine, what belongs to God and what may be said about God, says that these are images and paradigms and predeter— minations.26 For in his will everything predetermined by him, that 22John is following Acts 7:16, which seems to conflate two accounts: Abraham’s purchase of a cave as a tomb from Ephron, one of the Hittites, to whom he bowed down (or venerated: Gen 23:7), and the burial ground in which Joseph was buried, that had been purchased by Jacob from Emmor (Hamor in English Bibles: Gen 33:19—20). 23Esau: Gen 33:3; bowing over the head of his staff. Heb 11:21 (cf. Gen 47:31 LXX). In his encounter with Pharaoh, Jacob did not bow down, but blessed him: cf. Gen 47:7—10. 2“Joshua, in English Bibles. 25Jos 5:14; Dan 8:17. I 26Dionysius the Areopagite, Divine Names, 5.8 (ed. Suchla, 188). 26 JOHN OF DAMASCUS will unfailingly come to pass, is designated and depicted before it comes to be, just as, if one wants to build a house, its form is described and depicted first in the mind. 11 Then again there are images of invisible and formless things, that provide in bodily form a dim understanding of what is depicted. For Scripture applies forms to God and the angels, and the same divine man27 gives the reason when he says that if forms for formless things and shapes for shapeless things are proposed, some- one might say that not the least reason is because our analogies are not capable of raising us immediately to intellectual contemplation but need familiar and natural points of reference. If then the divine Word, foreknowing our need for analogies and providing us every- where with something to help us ascend, applies certain forms to those things that are simple and formless, how may not those things be depicted which are formed in shapes in accordance with our nature, and longed for, although they cannot be seen owing to their absence? For through the senses a certain imaginative image is con- stituted in the front part of the brain and thus conveyed to the fac— ulty of discernment and stored in the memory. The divinely eloquent Gregory therefore says that the intellect, tiring of trying to get past all things corporeal, realizes its impotence;28 but “the invis- ible things of God, since the creation of the world, have been clearly perceived through the things that have been made.”29 For we see images in created things intimating to us dimly reflections of the divine; as when we say that there is an image of the holy Trinity, which is beyond any beginning, in the sun, its light and its ray, or in a fountain welling up and the stream flowing out and the flood, or in our intellect and reason and spirit, or a rose, its flower and its fragrance. 27Idem, Celestial Hierarchy, 1.1.3 (ed. Heil, 8—9). 2EGregory Nazianzen, Hom. 28.13 (ed. Gallay, 128). Cf. Images, 11.5,111.2, 21. 29Rom 1:20. Treatise I 27 1 2 Again there are said to be images of the future, describing the things to come in shadowy enigmas, as the ark30 foreshadows the holy Virgin Mother of God, as does the rod31 and the jar;32 and the serpent” the one who did away with the bite of the primordially evil serpent through the cross; or the sea, water, and the cloud the Spirit of baptism.34 13 Again there are said to be images of what is past, either the memory of a certain miracle, or honor, or shame, or virtue, or vice, for the benefit of those who behold them later, so that they may flee what is evil and be zealous for what is good. This kind of image is twofold: through words written in books, as God engraved the Law on tablets and ordered the lives of men beloved of God to be recorded; and through things seen by the sense of sight, as when he ordered the jar and the rod to be placed in the ark as a memorial.35 So now we register the images and virtues of the past. Therefore, either destroy every image and establish laws against the One who ordered that these things should be, or receive each in the reason and manner fitting to each. Having discussed the different forms of the image, let us now talk about veneration. 1 4 Veneration (bowing down) is a symbol of submission and honor.m we know different forms of this. The first is as a form of worship, which we offer to God, alone by nature worthy of venera— tion.36 Then there is the veneration offered, on account of God who is naturally venerated, to his friends and servants, as Jesus the son of Nave and Daniel venerated the angel; or to the places of God, as 3"The ark of the covenant; Exod 25:10—16. 3'Aaron’s roct Num 17:8. 32The jar of manna: Exod 16:33. “Moses’ bronze serpent: Num 21:8; cf. In 3:14. 34Cf. 1 Cor 10:1—4. 35Heb 9:4. 36Cf. Gal 4:8. . r 28 JOHN OF DAMASCUS David said, “Let us venerate in the place, where his feet stood”;37 or to things sacred to Him, as Israel venerated the tabernacle and the temple in Jerusalem standing in a circle around it, and then from everywhere bowing in veneration towards it, as they still do now, or to those rulers who had been ordained by Him, as Jacob venerated Esau, made by God the elder-born brother, or Pharaoh, appointed by God his ruler, and his brothers venerated Joseph.38 And I know that such veneration is offered to others as a mark of honor, as Abra— ham venerated the sons of Emmor. Either, therefore, reject all ven- eration or accept all of these forms with its proper reason and manner. _ 15 Answer me this question. Is God one God? Yes, you say, as it seems to me, one lawgiver. Why then does He decree what is contra- dictory? For the cherubim are not Outside creation. Why then does he prescribe carved cherubim fashioned by human hands to over- shadow the mercy seat? It is clear that it is impossible to make an image of God or of anything like God, since he is uncircumscribable and unimaginable, lest the creation be venerated in worship as God. Since the cherubimiare circumscribable, He prescribes the making of an image of them prostrate before the divine throne, to over- shadow the mercy seat; for it was fitting that the image of the divine mysteries should shadow the image of the heavenly servants. And what do you say about the ark, the jar and the mercy seat? Were they not handmade? Not the work of human hands? Were they not fash— ioned, as you put it, from unworthy matter? What of the whole tab— ernacle? Was it not an image? Not a shadow and a copy? Therefore the divine apostle says about the sacred things made in accordance with the law: “These things serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary; for when Moses was about to erect the tabernacle, he was instructed by God, saying, See that you make everything according 371’s 131:7 LXX. 38Gen 42:6. Treatise I 29 to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain?” But the law was not an image, but a foreshadowing of an image; therefore the same apostle says, “For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not being itself the image of the realities.”40 If then the law prohibits images, while being itself a depiction of the image in advance, what shall we say? If the tabernacle is a shadow and the fig- ure of a figure, how then can the law command that images be not drawn? But these things are not so, not at all. Rather, “there is a sea- son for everything.”“ 1 6 (cf. 11.14) Of 0 eal and formless was never mumb— depictedl but ngw that God has been seen in the flesh and has asso- ciated with hum ' ' . I do not venerate matter, I venerate the fashioner of matter, who became mam W petoweinnmtterandromg matter worked my salvation, and I will not cease from reverencing matter, through which my salvatlon was worked. I do not reverence it as God—far from it; how can that which has come to be from nothing be God?—if the body of God has become God unchange- ably through the hypostatic union, what gives anointing remains, and what was by nature flesh animated with a rational and intellec- tual soul is formed, it is not uncreated. Therefore I reverence the rest of matter and hold in respect that through which my salvation came, because it is filled with divine energy and grace. Is not the thrice- precious and thrice—blessed wood of the cross matter? Is not the holy and august mountain, the place of the skull, matter? Is not the life- giving and life—bearing rock, the holy tomb, the source of the resur— rection, matter? Is not the ink and the all-holy book of the Gospels matter? Is not the life—bearing table, which offers to us the bread of life, matter? Is not the gold and silver matter, out of which crosses and tablets and bowls are fashioned? And, before all these things, is 39I-Ieb 8:5. “Heb 10:1. “Eccles 3:1. 30 JOHN OF DAMASCUS not the body and blood of my Lord matter? Either do away with rev- erence and veneration for all these or submit to the tradition of the Church and allow the veneration of images of God and friends of God, sanctified by name and therefore overshadowed by the grace of the divine Spirit. Do not abuse matter; for it is not dishonorable; this is the view of the Manichees. The only thing that is dishonorable is something that does not have its origin from God, but is our own discovery, by the free inclination and turning of our will from what is natural to what is unnatural, that is sin. If because of the law you dishonor images and prohibit them as fashioned from matter, see what Scripture says: “And the Lord spoke to Moses saying, See I have called by name Beseleel the son of Ori the son of Hor from the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the divine spirit of wisdom and understanding andknowledge in every work to devise and to design and to work in gold-and silver and bronze and aquamarine and por— phyry and spun scarlet and twisted flax and stonework and of car— pentry for wood, to work in every craft. And I have also given him Eliab the son of Achisamach for the tribe of Dan; and I have given all of them intelligence in an understanding heart, and they will make all that I have commanded you.”42 And again, “Moses said to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, Hear this word which the Lord has commanded, saying, Take from among you an offering to the Lord. Whoever has a generous heart, let him offer the first-fruits to the Lord, gold, silver, bronze, aquamarine, porphyry, scarlet twill and twisted flax and goats’ hair and rams’ skin dyed red and skins dyed aquamarine and acacia wood and oil for anointing and spices for incense and carnelians and precious stones for engraving and for the shoulder-piece and the robe. And let every one wise in heart among you .come and work everything, that the Lord has com- manded, the tabernacle,”43 and the rest, and after the other things “he fastened both the stones of emerald together, enclosed in 42Exod 31:1—6 LXX. 43Exod 3524—10. w—i .___._ _._____ Treatise I 3 1 settings of gold filigree, and engraved like the engravings of a _ signet,”‘14 and again, “there were twelve stones with their names according to the names the sons of Israel; they were like signets, each engraved with its name, for the twelve tribes,”‘15 and straightaway, “and he made the veil of the tabernacle of witness out of aquamarine and porphyry and spun scarlet and twisted flax, woven work of the cherubim.”46 Behold precious matter, which you regard as dishon- orable! What is cheaper than colored goats’ hair? Are not scarlet and porphyry and aquamarine merely colors? Look at the likeness of the cherubim. I-Iow therefore can you say that what the law orders to be made is prohibited by the law? If, because of the law, you prohibit images, watch that you keep the sabbath and are circumcised; for these the law unyieldineg commands. But know that if you keep the law, “Christ is no use to you; you who would be justified by the law, have fallen from grace.))47 Israel of old did not see God, “but we, with unveiled face, behold the glory of God.n48 1 7 I say that everywhere we use our senses to produce an image of the Incarnate God himself, and we sanctify the'first of the senses (sight being the first of the senses), just as by words hearing is sanc— tifled. For the image is a memorial. What the b0 es for those who understand lettersl the image does for the illiterate; he word apEeals to hearing, the image appeals toJLg' ht; it conveys under- sta ding. Therefore God ordered that the ark should be made of acacia wood and’gilded within and without, and that the tablets, the rod, the golden jar containing manna should be placed in it as a memorial of what had happened and to prefigure what was to come. “Exod 36:13 LXX; cf., in English Bibles, Exod 39:6. “Exod 36:21 LXX; cf., in English Bibles, Exod 39:14. 46Exod 37:5 LXX; John’s text is slightly different from the LXX, which reads “a work with cherubim woven in,” which is closer to the Hebrew: cf., in English Bibles, Exod 36:8. “Gal 5:2, 4. 432 Cor 3:18. .2... 32 JOHN OF DAMASCUS And who will say that these images are not loudly sounding heralds? And these were not placed at the side of the tabernacle, but right in front of the people, so that those who saw them might offer venera- tion and worship to God who had worked through them. It is clear that they were not worshipping them, but being led by them to recall the wonders they were offering veneration to God who had worked marvels. For images were set up as memorials, and were honored, not as gods, but as leading to a recollection of divine activities. 18 And God ordered twelve stones to be taken from the Jordan, and he gave the reason; for he said, “so that, when your son asks you, what are these stones? you shall relate how the water of the Jordan failed at the divine command, and the ark of the Lord and all the people passed over.”“9 How therefore shall we not depict in images what Christ our God endured for our salvation and his miracles, so that, when my son asks me, what is this? I shall say that God the Word became human and through him not only did Israel crOSs over the Jordan, but our whole nature was restored to ancient blessed— ness, through which that nature has ascended from the lowest parts of the earth beyond every principality and is seated on the very throne of the Father. 19 But then they say, Make an image of Christ and of his Mother who gave birth to God, and let that suffice. What an absurdity! You confess clearly that you are an enemy of the saints! For if you make an image of Christ, but in no wise of the saints, it is clear that you do not prohibit the image, but rather the honor due to the saints, some— thing that no one has ever dared to do or undertake with such brazenness. For to make an image of Christ as glorified and yet spurn the image of the saints as without glory is to endeavor to show that the truth is false. “For I live,”50 says the Lord, “and I shall glorify 49Cf. 105 426—7. 5‘3“As I live” is a favorite divine oath (usually prefacing a curse) in Ezekiel. The rest of the John’s citation is not found in conjunction with the oath in Scripture. Treatise I 33 those who glorify me,”51 and the divine apostle, “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, an heir of God through Christ,”52 and “if we suffer together [with him], so that we are glori- fied together.”53 You are not waging a war against images, but against the saints. John the theologian, who leant on Christ’s breast, there— fore says, that “we shall be like him.”54 For just as iron plunged in fire does not become fire by nature, but by union and burning and par- ticipation, so what is deified does not become God by nature, but by participation. I am not speaking of the flesh of the incarnate Son of God; for that is called God immutably by hypostatic union and par- ticipation in the divine nature, not anointed by the energy of God as with each of the prophets, but by the presence of the the whole of the one who anoints. Because by deification the saints are gods, it is said that “God stands in the company of gods, in the midst he dis— criminates between the gods,”55 when God stands in the midst of the gods, distinguishing their several worth, as Gregory the Theologian interprets it.56 20 God ordered David to build him a house through his own son Solomon and to prepare his resting-place. Solomon built this and made cherubim, as the book of Kingdoms says, and covered the cherubim with gold and made engravings all round the walls in the form of cherubim and phoenixes57 both inside and out—not, he said, on the sides, but “all round”,—and also oxen and lions and pomegranates. Are not all the walls of the house of the Lord made much more valuable when adorned with the forms and images of saints, rather than animals and trees? Where is the declaration of the law: “You shall not make any likeness”? But Solomon, who was filled 511 Kgd 2:30. 52Gal 4:7. 53Rom 8:17. 541 In 3:2. 55Ps 81:1. 56Gregory Nazianzen, Horn. 40.6.24—5 (ed. Moreschini, 208). 57Or: palm trees. Cf. Images 111, n. 221. 34 JOHN OF DAMASCUS with wisdom, did not depict God, when he made likenesses of cherubim and lions and oxen—for this the law forbids—.should not we, who do depict God, make images of the saints? For, Just as. then the temple and the people were sanctified with the blood of animals and the ashes of a heifer, now it is with the blood of Christ“wh0 bore witness before Pontius Pilate”58 and showed himself the firstfruits of the martyrs, and still the church is built by the holy blood of the saints, so as then the house of God was adorned With forms and images of animals, so now with saints who have prepared themselves in the spirit to be living and rational temples for the dwelling—place of the living God. 2 1 (cf. 11.15) We represent Christ the King and Lord without divest— ing him of his army. For the saints are the army of the Lord. 'Let the earthly king divest himself of his own army, before he deprives his own King and Lord. Let him put aside the purple robe and the dia— dem, and then let him do away with those who fight most bravely against the tyrant and triumph over the passions. If they are heirs of God and co—heirs with Christ and partakers of the divine glory and kingdom, how shall not the friends of Christ be also fellowupartak— ers on earth of his glory? “I do not call you slaves,” says God, you are my friends.”59 Should we then deprive them of the honor given them by the Church? 0 rash hand! 0 audacious opinion, rebelling against God and refusing to perform his commands! You do not venerate an image, nor do you venerate the Son of God, who is the 11v1ng image of the invisible God”60 and his undeviating likeness. . I venerate the image of Christ, as God incarnate; of the mistress of all, the Mother of God, as the mother of the Son of God; of the saints, as the friends of God, who, struggling against sin to the point of blood, have both imitated Christ by shedding their blood for him, 581 Tim 6:13. 59Cf. In 15:14—15. “Col 1:15. Treatise I 35 who shed his own blood for them, and lived a life following his foot— steps. I set down in a record their brave feats and their sufferings, as ones who have been sanctified through them and as a stimulus to zealous imitation. And I do these things out of respect and venera- tion. “For the honor given to the image passes to the archetype,”61 says the divine @2511, If you raise temples to the saints of God, then put up trophies to them as well. Of old a temple was not erected in the name of human beings, nor was the death of just ones cele— brated, but they were buried, and anyone who touched a corpse was reckoned unclean, even Moses himself. Now the memorials of the saints are celebrated. The corpse of Jacob was buried, but that of Stephen is celebrated. Either, therefore, give up the festal memorials of the saints, which are contrary to the old law, or accept the images, which, you say, are contrary to the law. But it is impossible not to cel— ebrate the memorials of the saints, for the choir of the holy apostles and the god—bearing fathers enjoins that these should take place. For from the time when God the Word became flesh, and was made like us in every respect save sin, and was united without confusion with what is ours, and unchangingly deified the flesh through the uncon— fused co-inherence of his divinity and his flesh one with another, we have been truly sanctified. And from the time when the Son of God and God, being free from suffering in his divinity, suffered in what he had assumed and paid our debt by pouring out a worthy and admirable ransom (for the Son’s blood was appealing to the Father and worthy of respect), we have truly been set free. And from the time when he descended into Hades and preached forgiveness to the souls, who had been bound as captives there for all eternity, like sight to the blind, and, having bound the strong one by his excess of power, rose again and gave incorruption to the flesh that he had assumed from us, we have been made truly incorruptible. From the time when we were born of water and the Spirit, we have truly been adopted as sons and become heirs of God. Henceforth Paul calls the 6|Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, 18.45 (ed. Pruche, 406). . “u.” 36 JOHN OF DAMASCUS faithful holy. Henceforth we do not mourn for the saints, but we celebrate their death. Henceforth, “we are not under the law, but under grace,n62 “having been justified through faith,”63 and knowing the only true God—“for the law is not laid down for the Just 64—we are no longer enslaved by the elements of the law as chlldren, but being restored to perfect manhood we are nourished with sohd food, no longer prone to idolatry For the law is good, like a lamp shining in a squalid place, but only until the day dawns. For already the morning star has risen in our hearts and the liy1ng water of the knowledge of God has covered the seas of the nations and all have come to know the Lord. “The old things have passed away, and behold everything is new.“5 The divine apostle therefore saidto Peter, the supreme chief of the apostles, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?))66 and to the Galatians he wrote, “I testify to everyone who receives circumcision that he is bound to keep the whole law.”67 22 Of old, therefore, those who did not know God were enslaved by those who by nature were not gods, but now, knowing God or rather known by God, how shall we turn again to the weak and beg- garly elements?68 I have seen the human form of God, ‘ and my soul has been saved.”69 I see the image of God, as Jacob saw it, if in another way. For he saw an immaterial image, proclaiming before— hand what was to come to the immaterial eyes of the intellect, while I have seen the image of one seen in the flesh, that enkindles the memory. The shadow of the apostles, their handkerchlefs and 62Rom 6:14. 63Rom 5:1. 6"1 Tim 1:9. 652 Cor 5:17. “Gal 2:14. 67Gal 5:3. “Gal 4:8—9. “ 69Gen 32:31 LXX. Jacob’s words in context are probably better translated and my life has been preserved,” but I think the above translation expresses Johns own meaning. Treatise I 37 aprons,70 drove away diseases, and put demons to flight; how shall the shadow and image of the saints not be glorified? Either abolish the veneration of everything material, or do not innovate, “neither remove the ancient boundaries, set in place by your fathers?” 2 3 (cf. 11.16). Not only has the ordinance of the Church been handed down in writings, but also in unwritten traditions. Therefore the divine Basil says in the twenty-seventh chapter of his thirty chapters on the Holy Spirit to Amphilochius, word for word, thus: Of the dogmas and preachings preserved in the Church, some we have from the written teaching, others we received from the tradition of the Apostles, handed down to us in secret, both of them having the same force for piety. No one who has the least experience of the laws of the Church will object to these, for if we try to dismiss that which is un— written among the customs as of no great authority, then without noticing it we shall damage the Gospel.72 These are the words of Basil the Great. For whence do we know the holy place of the skull, the memorial of life? Have not children learnt it from their fathers without anything being written down? For it is written that the Lord was crucified in the place of the skull and buried in a tomb, that Joseph’had hewn in a rock; but that these are the places now venerated we know from unwritten tradition, and there are many other examples like this. What is the origin of the threefold [immersion in] baptism? Whence praying facing the East? Whence the tradition of the mysteries?73 Therefore the divine 70The shadow of Peter: Acts 5:15; the handkerchiefs and aprons of Paul: Acts 19:12. 71Prov 22:28: a favorite quotation ofJohn’s, quoted at the end of the first chapter of On the Orthodox Faith. 72Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, 27.66 (ed. Pruche, 478—80). 73Or sacraments. These are the examples Basil cites in the rest of the chapter from On the Holy Spirit, quoted above. 38 JOHN or DAMASCUS apostle says, “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our let— ters.”74 Since many such things have been handed down in unwrit- ten form in the Church and preserved up to now, why do you split hairs over the images? 2 4 (cf. 11.17) The practices that you mention do not make our ven— eration of images loathsome, but those of the idolatrous Greeks.75 It is not necessary, on account of pagan abuse, to abolish our pious practice. Enchanters and sorcerers practice exorcism, the Church also exorcizes catechumens; but they call upon demons, while the Church calls upon God against demons. Greeks dedicate images to demons and call them gods, while we [dedicate images] to the true God incarnate and the servants and friends of God and drive away the hosts of the demons. 25 (cf. 11.18) If you say that the divine and wonderful Epi hanius clearly prohibited these images, then first the work in question is perhaps spurious and forged, being the work of one and bearing the name of another, which often happens. Secondly, we know that the blessed Athanasius objected to putting the relics of the saints in a sarcophagus, ordering rather that they should be buried beneath the earth, wanting to abolish the absurd custom of the Egyptians, who do not bury their dead beneath the earth, but place them on beds and pallets. Perhaps, if we grant that the work is his, Epipha— nius the Great wanted to correct a similar practice by forbidding the making of images. However, there is the witness of the divine Epiphanius’ own church, that his purpose was not to abolish images, for it has been decorated with images up to our own time. Thirdly, an isolated instance does not make a law for the Church, “for one 742 Thess 2:15. 75For John, as for any Christian Byzantine, “Greek” (hellén) meant “pagan.” The word translated “idolatrous” literally means “god—making.” M Treatise I 3 9 swallow does not make a spring,”76 as Gregory the Theologian says, and the truth declares. Nor can one word overthrow a tradition of the whole Church, which stretches from one end of the earth to the other. 26 Receive, therefore, the settled teaching of both scriptural and patristic practices, because, if Scripture says, “the idols of the nations are silver and gold, the works of human hands,”77 it does not there- fore prevent the veneration of inanimate things or the works of human hands, but only of images of demons. 27 It is said, therefore, that the prophets venerated angels and human beings and kings and godless men and even a rod. And David says, “And venerate the footstool of his feet.”78 And Isaiah, speaking in God’s person, says, “Heaven in my throne, and the earth the foot— stool for my feet.”79 It is clear to everyone, I suppose, that heaven and earth are created. Moses and Aaron, too, with all the people wor— shipped things made by hand. Therefore, Paul the golden cicada of the Church says in his letter to the Hebrews, “ChriSt then, appeared as a high priest of the goods things to come, through e ‘ greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not of his creation,”0 and again, “for Christ has entered, not into a sanc- tuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven.’>81 Thus the former sanctuary, the tabernacle and everything in it, was made with hands; and that it was venerated, no one denies. '76A proverb, found in Aristotle (Nicamachean Ethics 1.7.16) and Gregory Nazranzen (Ham. 39.14 [ed. Moreschini, 182], who uses it, as does Iohn, to illustrate the principle that an isolated instance does not make a law for the Church). The Eng— lish proverb that “one swallow does not make a summer” reflects the more northerly climate of England. 77Ps 113:12. 75Ps 98:5. 7915a 66:1. 8ol—leb 9:11. 81Heb 9:24. OHN or DAMASCUS 4o 1 28 (11.24) Saint Dionysius the Areopagite, from the letter to Titus:82 I ' . It is necessary that, contrary to the crowd’s preJudice against them, we should make the sacred journey into the sacred symbols and not dishonor these things that are the offspring and impreSSions of divine tokens and manifest images of ineffable visions beyond nature. 29 (11.25) Comment. Look how he says that we are not to despise the images of what is honorable. ' 3 0 (11.26) The same, from On the Divine Names.83 Into this have we been initiated: now analogously, through the divine veils of the scriptural and priestly traditions, [God’s] love for human kind84 covers intelligible things by that which. can be per- ceived by the senses and things beyond being by the things that are, and provides forms and figures for what is formless and Without fig— ure, and makes manifold and gives form to simplicity that is beyond nature and shape in a multitude of separate symbols. 31 (11.27) Comment: If it belongs to [God’s] love for human kind to provide forms and figures for what is formless and Without figure and for what is simple and without shape in accordance With our analogy, how then should not we form images analogous to us of what we see in forms and shapes to arouse our memory and from memory arouse zeal? 32 (11.28; 111.44) The same, from On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy.85 But the beings and orders that are above us, of which we have already made sacred mention, are bodiless, and their hierarchy is 32Dionysius the Areopagite, ep. 9.2 (ed. Ritter, 199). 83Idem, On the Divine Names, 1.4 (ed. Suclila, n4). 8“ hilanthro ' . g I ' 85l’DionysiusIfhae Areopagite, On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy 1.2 (ed. Heil, 65) Treatise I 41 intelligible and transcends the cosmos. Let us see our hierarchy, in a way that bears analogy with us, made manifold by a multitude of symbols of things perceived by the senses, by which we ascend hier— archically, according to our measure, to the single-formed deifica— tion, to God and to divine virtue, those [beings] understanding, as intellects, in a way permitted to them, while we ascend by means of images perceived through the senses to the divine contemplations. 3 3 (11.29; cf. 111.45) Comment. If, in a way that bears analogy with us, we are led by images perceived through the senses to divine and immaterial contemplation and, out of love for human kind, the divine providence provides figures and shapes of what is without shape or figure, to guide us by hand, so to say, why is it unfitting, in a way that bears analogy with us, to make an image of one who sub- mitted to shape and form and out oflove for human kind was seen naturally as a man? A story has come down to us by tradition: Abgar, the prince of Edessa, ardently burning with divine love at the fame of the Lord, sent ambassadors to beg for a visitation. If he declined to come, he commanded that a likeness be fashioned of him by an artist. When he who knows everything and can do everything learnt this, he took a strip of cloth and lifted it to his face, marking it with his own form. The cloth survives to this day.86 34 (11.30; 111.46) Saint Basil, from his homily on the blessed Bar- laam the Martyr, which begins: “First the death of the saints . . .”:87 Rise up now for me, O radiant painters of athletic achievements, and magnify the mutilated image of the general by your arts. The context in which he was crowned, described more dimly by me, you “The story of Abgar of Edessa is first found in Eusebius’ Church History (1.13), though the mention of a portrait on a cloth (by tradition the Mandylion) only goes back to the fifth—century Doctrine ofAddai. The story appears in much the same form in John Damascene’s On the Orthodox Faith 89. Oddly, it is omitted from the later form of the florilegium that John appended to the third treatise. “Basil, Homily on Barlaam the Martyr (PG 31.489A4~B4), also cited at Nicaea 11. ii JOHN or DAMASCUS 42 make radiant with the colors of your wisdom. Overwhelmed by you, Iwill refrain from describing the martyr’s deeds of valor. Beaten bly your strength, I rejoice today in such a Victory. I see the strugg e depicted most exactly by you, with his hand in the fire; 1 see the com— batant, radiant with joy, depicted in your image. Let the demons howl, as they are now struck down by the valiant deeds of the mar— tyrs now manifest in you. Let the burning hand be once again shown as victorious over them. May Christ, the judge of the contest, inscribe them on his list, to whom be glory to the ages. 35 (11.31; 111.48) The same, from the thirty chapters to Amphilo— - » .88 chios on the Holy Spirit, chapter 17. Because the image of the emperor is called the emperor, yet there are not two emperors, for neither is the power diVided nor the glory shared. For as the principle and authority that rules over us is one, so also is the praise that we offer one and not many, because the ' . What the image ff 1' d to the ima e passes to the archetype . honor 0 e e g Son is by nature. And just as . . . . the is by imitation here below, there _ ‘ with works of art the likeness is in accordance With the form, so With the divine and incomposite nature the union is in the communion of the divinity. 36 (11.32) Comment: If the image of the-emperor is the emperor, and the image of Christ is Christ, and the image of a saint is a saint,f then the power is not divided nor the glory shared, but the glory: the image becomes that of the one depicted in the image: 3 demons are alarmed at the saints, and flee from their shadow, an the image is a shadow, and I make this to exorc12e the demons. If ycllu say that God ought only to be apprehended spiritually, then ta e1 away everything bodily, the lights, the fragrant incense, evenivoczi1 prayer, the divine mysteries themselves that are celebrate Wit 88Idem, On the Holy Spirit, 18.45.15—23 Nicaea 11. (ed. Pruche, 406), also (partially) cited at Treatise I 43 matter, the bread, the wine, the oil of chrismation, the form of the cross. For these are all material: the cross, the sponge, the reed, the lance that pierced the life-bearing side. Either take away the rever— ence offered to all these, as impossible, or do not reject the honor of the images. Divine grace is given to material things through the name borne by what is depicted. Just as the purple dye and the silk and the garment that is woven from them simply by themselves have no honor, but if an emperor wears it, his clothing shares in the honor that belongs to the one wearing it. So material things, on their own, are not worthy of veneration, but if the one depicted is fill of grace, then they become participants in grace, on the analogy of faith.89 The apostles saw the Lord with their bodily eyes, and others saw the apostles, and others the martyrs. And I long to see them in soul and body, and to possess the medicine that wards off evil, for I am made with a double nature,90 and seeing, I Venerate what I see, not as God, but as an honorable image of those worthy of honor. You, perhaps, are exalted and immaterial and have come to transcend the body and as fleshless, so to speak, you spit with contempt on everything visi— ble, but I, since I am a human being and wear a body, I long to have communion in a bodily way with what is holy and to see it. Conde- scend to my lowly understanding, 0 exalted one, that you may pre— serve your exaltedness. Christ accepted my longing for him and for those who belong to him. For the master rejoices, when the prudent sen/ant is praised, as Basil the Great said in [his homily in] praise of the forty martyrs.91 Consider what he said in celebration of Gordius, celebrated in song: 37 (11.33) Saint Basil, from the homily on Gordius the martyr:92 Let the people rejoice with spiritual joy at the simple re- membrance of the deeds achieved by the just, urged to zeal and to 89Cf. Rom 1226. 9"Cf. Images, 111.12. 91Cf. Basil, Homily on the 40 Martyrs ofSebaste (PG 31.508B). Cf. Images, 1.42. 92Idem, Homily on Gordius the Martyr (PG 31.492A, 492B). i l 44 JOHN OF DAMASCUS imitation of the good people from whom they hear [these things]; for the story of men who conduct their lives well is a kind of light on the path of life to those who are being saved. And a little further on: Just as, when we relate the lives of those who are conspicuous in reverent life, we glorify first the master through the servants, and praise the just, whom we know through their witness, and make the people rejoice through hearing of the good. 3 8 (11.34) Comment Behold, as the glory of God, the praise of the saints, for the memory of the saints constitutes the joy and salvation of the people. Why, therefore, do you take this away?93 For, as the same divine Basil says, memory comes about through word and images. 3 9 (11.35) From the same homily on Gordius the martyr:94 For just as illumination automatically comes from fire and fra- grance from myrrh, so also something profitable follows necessarily from good deeds. And it is no small thing accurately to grasp the truth of what is past, for the memory that comes down to us and pre- serves the manly virtue of a man in his struggles, is dim. How then do those resemblances that are made amongst us by painters seem? For, since they copy images from images, they as often as not depart from the archetypes, and there is no small danger that we, if we turn away from the very sight of things themselves, will diminish the truth. 40 (11.36) And at the end of the same homilyz95 For just as those who continually behold the sun are always amazed, in the sameway we have a perpetually fresh memory of that man. 93T his question suggests that John saw iconoclasm as involving an attack on the cult ofthe saints in general; Theophanes make the same association (see Theophanes, Chronicle AM 6218; ed. de Boor 406; Mango 561). Cf. Images, 1.19. 94Basil, Homily on Gordius the Martyr (493A). 951bid. (508A). Treatise I 45 41 (11.37) Comment: It is clear that we continually behold [him] through word of mouth and images. 42 (11.38) And in the homily on the For most ho - (1 he says these things:96 ty more Martyrs How can one who loves the martyrs ever have enough of the memory of the martyrs? Therefore the honor shown to the good ser- vants by their fellow servants is a proof of their good disposition towards their common Lord. And again: Genuinely blessed are those who bear witness97 [ to the martyrs] in order that they may become martyrs by their free will and turn out worthy of the same praises as theirs, without persecution, with— out fire, Without scourgings. 43 (11.39) Comment: Why therefore do you debar me from the honor of the samts and begrudge me salvation? That he knows that the shape expressed through colors is linked to the word, listen to what he says a little later: I 4 4 (11.40) Basil:98 Come together in our midst, as we set forth the excellent deeds of these men In a homily, drawing a lesson from them for the common benefit of those present, demonstrating them to all, as in a picture. 45 (11.41) Comment: Do you see how the fu nction of image and word are one? “As in a picture,” he says, ‘ ‘we demonstrate by word.” 4 6 (11.42; 111.47) And again there are these words:99 Moreover both writers of words and painters many times de— scribe clearly human deeds of valor in war, the former adorning 96'Basil, Homily on the 40 Martyrs ofSebaste (PG 31.508B). 97There is a play on words here- the Gre ' . I . ek for Witness and mar ' th 98Basrl, Homily on the 40 Martyrs ofSebaste (508CD). tyr 18 6 same. 991b1d. (508D—509A). 46 JOHN or DAMASCUS them with rhetoric, the latter inscribing them on tablets, and both arousing many to deeds of excellence. For what the word of a story makes present through hearing, the very same is shown silently in a picture through imitation. 47 (11.43) Comment. What could demonstrate more clearly than these passages, that images are books for the illiterate and silent her- alds of the honor of the saints, teaching those who see with a sound- less voice and sanctifying the sight? I may not have many books, nor have much time to read, but, strangled with thoughts, as if with thorns,I come into the common surgery of the soul, the church; the luster of the painting draws me to vision and delights my sight like a meadow and imperceptibly introduces my soul to the glory of God. I have seen the perseverance of the martyr, the recompense of the crowns, and as if by fire 1 am eagerly kindled to zeal, and falling down I venerate God through the martyr and I receive salvation. Have I not heard the same God-bearing Father saying, in his hom~ ily on the beginning of the Psalms, that “the Holy Spirit, knowing that the human race is lazy and moved with difficulty to virtue, mixed melody with the singing of psalms”?‘°° What do you say? Shall I not paint in words and in colors the martyrdom of the mar— tyrs and embrace with eyes and lips “what is wonderful to angels and the whole creation, painful to the devil and fearful to demons,” as the same beacon of the Church said?1°‘ Or his words at the end of the homily in which he praises the Forty Martyrs:102 O holy chorus, O sacred condition, 0 unbroken phalanx, 0 common guards of the human race, good partakers of oversight, fel- low—workers with prayers, most powerful ambassadors, stars of the inhabited world, flowers of the Church (I mean, both spiritual and 100Basil, Homily on Psalm 1 (PG 29.212B). 101Basil, Homily on Gordius the Martyr (PG 31.501B). “’ZBasil, Homily on the 40 Martyr ofSebaste (PG 315240. One manuscript from the monastery of Dionysiou on the Holy Mountain, containing the florilegium of Treatise 11, gives a much longer quotation from this homily. supplement to St Basil’s commentary on the six days of creation, his Hexaemeron Treatise I 4 7 temporal)! The earth did not hide you, but heaven received you. The gates of paradise were opened to you, a sight worthy of the army of angels, worthy of patriarchs, of prophets, of the just. 4 8 (11.44) Comment How should I not long to see what the angels long to see?103 In unison with this is what his brother, the like— mlnded Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, says: 4 9 (I145) Saint Gregory, bishop of Nyssa, from the supplement 104 that is On the Creation of Human Kind, chapter 4:105 ) Just as the custom is that those who fashion images of rulers as well as expressing their features, express the imperial dignity by garments of purple, and it is customarily called both image and emperor, so too human nature, since it is fashioned to rule every— thing else, is set up as a kind of living image, participating in its archetype in both dignity and name. 5 0 (11.46) The same, from the fifth chapter of the same work“)6 The divine beauty is not made resplendent in a certain external figure or fortunate shape through certain beautiful colors but is beheld in the ineffable blessedness of virtue. Just as painters transfer human forms on to tablets by means of certain colors, applying cor— responding paints by imitation, so that‘the beauty of the archetype IS transferred with accuracy to the likeness . . . 51 (11.47) Comment See, since “the divine beauty is not made resplendent in a certain external figure through certain beautiful colors,” it is therefore not depicted, while the human form is trans— ferred to tablets by means of colors. If then the Son of God came to ’OJThe same manuscri ' ' - r , . Pt from Dionysmu includes here a lon uotau’on fi- Bas‘l 5 Against Sabellians and Aria: and Anomaeans. g q 0m St 10“Gregory of Nyssa’s On the Creation ofHuman Kind was often thought of as a 105Gre or f N - , lOGIbidgs 2:307A)'Y553, 0’1 the Creation OfHuman Kmd4 (PG 44,1360. 8 JOHN OF DAMASCUS 4 g the form of a servant, and coming to be be in human form, takin ‘07 in human likeness, and being found in figure as a human being, how can he not be depicted? And if it is customary “to call the image r” and “the honor offered to the image passes 1 says, how is it that the image 15 0d, but as the image of God of an emperor empero ' to the archetype,” as the diVine BaSi not honored and venerated, not as G made flesh? 52 (11.48; 111.50) From the homily of Saint Gregory of Nyssta, preached at Constantinople, on the divinity of the son and t e Spirit, and concerning Abraham, homily 44, which begins: Just as those who love to behold such things are affected by meadows ' owers . . 35108 . (1661:3211: the father binds his child. 1 have often seen images of this tender scene in pictures and 1 have not been able to pass from seeing it without tears, so skillfullyhdoes the artist bring this story to my sight. 1saac is before us, crouching on his knee before the : tar, with his hands tied behind his back; [his father] has seized him rom behind with his knee bended, and with his left hand grasping the child’s hair he pulls him towards himself and bendsiover the face t at looks up to him piteously, and with a sword in his right hand he pr:- ceeds directly to the sacrifice. The edge of the sword has alI‘Eél z; touched his body, and then there comes to him a mice from 0 forbidding the deed. 5 3 (11.49; 111.51) Saint John Chrysostom, from his interpretation of the E istle to the Hebrews:109 . 1111) a certain way the first is an image of the second, Melchisedek [an image] of Christ, just as one might say that a sketch of a picture l07Cf. Phil 2:7. 10{‘Gregory of Nyssa, 138—9); cited at Niczea 11. 109John Chrysostom, ed. Field, vol. 7,150f.). On the divinity of the Son and the Holy Spirit (ed. Rhein, passage unidentified (cf., however, Homily 12 on Hebrews, Treatise I 4 9 is a shadow of the picture in colors; therefore the law is called a shadow, grace truth, and reality what is to come. So the law and Melchisedek are preparatory sketches of the picture in colors, and grace and truth are that picture in colors, while reality belongs to the age to come, just as the Old [Testament] is a type of a type, and the New [Testament] a type of reality. 5 4 (11.50) Leontius of Neapolis in Cyprus, from his treatise against the Jews on the veneration of the Cross of Christ, the icons of the saints, and other matters, and on the relics of the saints:”0 If you accuse me again, 0 Jew, saying, that 1 venerate the wood of the Cross as God, why do you not accuse Jacob of bowing in ven- eration over the head of his staff? But it is clear that in honoring the wood he did not venerate it, but venerated Joseph through the wood,111 just as we [venerate] Christ through the Cross, but do not glorify the wood. 5 5 (11.51) Comment: If therefore we venerate the form of the Cross, making an image of the Cross from some kind of matter, how is it that we should not venerate the image of the Crucified One? 56 (11.52) And again from the same Leontius: Since Abraham venerated the impious men who sold him the tomb and bowed his knee to the ground, but did not venerate them 110This citation, and those that follow, from Leontius of Neapolis’ “Treatise against the Jews” appear in somewhat different forms in the florilegium attached to the third of John’s treatises against the iconoclasts, and as cited in the acta of Nicaea 11; otherwise the treatise has been lost. The various versions are brought together for comparison by 1-1.6. Thummel, Die Frii'hgeschichte der ostkirchlichen Bilderlehre. Texte Lind Untersuchungen zur Zeit vor dem Bilderstreit, (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1992), 340—53. The different versions present several puzzles, not least the fact that some appear to come from a dialogue between a Christian and a Jew, others from a treatise against the Jews. Although this treatise by Leontius is lost, other works of his survive: a couple of sermons and Lives of St John the Almsgiver, St Symeon the Fool and St Spyridon (though the version that survives of this latter may only be based on Leon— tius’ version). “le. Gen 47:31; Heb 11:21; Images, 111.36. 50 JOHN OF DAMASCUS as gods; and again Jacob blessed the impious Pharaoh who was an idolater, but did not bless him as god; and again, he fell down and venerated Esau, but did not venerate him as god} ‘2 And again: How is it that God commanded you to venerate the earth and the mountains? For he said,“Exa1t the Lord our God and bow in ven— eration to his holy mountain. And bow in veneration (before the footstool of his feet, for he is holy,” that is, to the earth. ,I’ieaven is my throne,” he says, “earth is the footstool of my feet, says the Lord.113 How is it that Moses venerated Iothor, who was an 1dolater, and Daniel Nabuchodonosor?114 How can you accuse me of honor— nd venerating those who honor and venerate God? Tell me, 15 1: not fitting to venerate the saints rather than stone them, as you do. Is it not fitting to venerate them rather than overthrow them and cast down your benefactors into a cistern of mire?‘15 If you loved God, you would certainly honor his servants. And if the bones of the just are unclean, how is it that the bones of Jacob and Joseph were transported with all honor from Egypt?116 How was the dead man who touched the bones of Elisseus immediately ra1sed up?1 If God works miracles through bones, it is very clear that he can also do so through images and stones and many other things,'}ust as also 1‘; happened with Elisseus, who gave his own staff to his servant an told him to go and through it raise up the ch1ld of the .Shuna— mitess.118 And Moses checked Pharaoh with his staff and d1v1ded the sea and made water sweet and broke the rock asunder and made water flow out.119 And Solomon said, “Blessed is the wood, through inga “sz. Gen 23:7—12;47:7,io;33:3; Images, 1.8. “3Cf. Ps 98:5; Isa 66:1; Images, 1.27. l"‘Cf. Exod 18:7; Dan 2:46. In English Bib as Jethro and Nebuchadnezzar. 115Cf. Jer 45:6 (LXX; English versions: 38:6). H6Cf. Gen 50:13, 25. p I “7Cf. 4 Kgds [2 Kgs] 13:21. In English Bibles Elisseus app “U. 4 Kgd 4:29. “9Cf. Exod 7—10; 14:16; 15:25; 17:6. les, lothor and Nabuchodonosor appear ears as Elisha. Treatise I 5 1 which salvation comes.”120 And Elisseus threw wood into the Jordan and brought up the axe—head.121 And there is the “tree of life”122 and the “plant Sabek,” that is, “of forgiveness.”‘23 And Moses lifted up the serpent on a wooden pole and gave life to the people;124 and by the wooden rod blossoming in the tabernacle the priesthood was rati— fied.125 But equally you will tell me, O Jew, that everything in the tab— ernacle of witness God ordered Moses to make; and I will say to you that Solomon made many, varied things, both carved and in cast metal, in the temple, which God had not ordered him to make,126 nor did the tabernacle of witness possess these things, neither the temple, which God showed to Ezekiel, and Solomon was not con- demned for this; for he fashioned such forms to the glory of God, just as we do. You, too, used to have many different images and signs for the remembrance of God, before you were deprived of them because of your folly, namely, the Mosaic staff, the divinely-engraved tablets, the bush bedewed with fire, the rock dry yet giving water, the manna—bearing ark, the altar containing divine fire, the golden plate bearing the divine name, the ephod revealing God, the God— enshrouded tabernacle.127 And if you overshadowed128 all these things by day and night, saying, Glory to you, the only God who 120Wisd 14:7 (which reads “justice” instead 0f“salvation”). mCf. 4 Kgd 6:6. me. Gen 2:9. 123Gen 22:13 LXX reads “the plant Sabek” for the thicket in which the ram, to be sacrificed instead of Isaac, was caught. The catenaz on Genesis preserve extracts from several patristic commentators (Eusebius of Emesa, Diodore of Tarsus, Procopius of Gaza, Severus of Antioch), who interpret Sabek as meaning “remission” or “forgive— ness,” doubtless deriving this from the root SBQ, which in-Aramaic and Syriac means to forgive. 124Cf.Nun1 21:8f. 125Cf. Num 17:23 (English Bibles: 17:8). Cf. also the above examples about Elis- seus and Moses with Images, I.22. 126Cf. 2 Chron 3~4. '27Almost all these adjectives are coinages of Leontius. 128It is not clear to me what this means; a very slight emendation ( kataskeuazou for kataskiazou) would give the reading: “If you fashioned all these things by day and night . . 52 JOHN or DAMASCUS rules over all, who through all these things worked marvels in Israel, if through all these things belonging to the Law, which you once used to have, falling down you venerated God, you would see that vener— ation is offered to God through images. And a little further on: . For if anyone purely loves a friend or a king or above all a bene— factor, and if he beholds his son, or his staff, or his throne, or his crown, or his house, or his slave, he notices them and through these things greets and honors the benefactor, king, and above all God. For now, 1 tell you again, you, too, used to make Mosaic and prophetic images, and daily you venerated their master, God, in'them. When- ever then you see the children of Christians venerati'ng the Cross, know that they offer veneration to the crucified Christ and not to wood. Since if they reverenced the nature of wood, they would cer- tainly be obliged to venerate trees and groves, Just a: you, Israel, once venerated these, saying to the tree and the stone, you are my god, and you gave me birth.”129 We do not speak thus to the Cross or the forms of the Saints; for they are not our gods, but open books, man~ ifestly set in place in the churches and venerated for the remem— brance of God and his honor. For one who honors the martyr honors God, for whom the martyr bore witness; one who venerates the apostle of Christ venerates the one who sent him; and one who falls down before the mother of Christ [does so] evidently, because he offers honor to her son. For no one is God, save the one acknowl— edged in Trinity and Unity and worshipped as One. 5 7 (11.53) Comment Is this the faithful interpreter of the words'of the blessed Epiphanius, who adorned the island of the Cypriots With his own words, or those who speak from their own hearts? Hear also Severian, bishop of Gabala, and what he says: ’zgler 2:27. Treatise 1 53 5 8 (11.54,111.52) Severian, bishop of Gabala,130 from the homily on the dedication of the Cross:131 How does the image of the accursed one bring life to our fore- fathers? And a little further on: How does the image of one accursed bring salvation to a people storm-tossed by misfortune? Now would it not be more credible to say: If any of you is bitten, look to the heaven above, to God, or into the tabernacle of God, and be saved? But passing over these, he fixes only on the image of the Cross. Why therefore did Moses do these things, when he said to the people, “Do not make for yourselves any- thing carved or of cast metal or a likeness of anything, whether in heaven above or in the earth beneath or in the waters under the earth”?132 But why do 1 utter these things to someone ungrateful? Tell me, 0 most faithful servant of God, do you make what you for— bid? Do you fashion what you overthrow? You who say “You shall not make anything carved,” who overturned the molten calf, do you fashion a serpent inbronze? And this not secretly, but openly, known to all? But those things, he says, I laid down by law, that 1 might cut off the occasions of irreverence and lead the people from all apos— tasy and worship of idols; but now 1 cast a serpent usefully for a pre— figuration of the trpth. And just as 1 established the tabernaCle and everything in it and, spread out in the sanctuary the cherubim, a like- ness of things invisible, as a type and shadow of things to come, so I set up the serpent for the salvation of the people, that through their experience of these things they might be prepared beforehand for the image of the sign of the Cross and upon it the Savior and Redeemer. And that this explanation is entirely without deceit, beloved, hear the Lord confirming this when he said, “And just as 130Severian was bishop of Gabala in the early fifth century, and was one of the leading opponents of St Iohn Chrysostom at the Synod of the Oak (AD 403). 13'From Severian’s Homily on the Serpent (PG 56.499—516). mExod 20:4. \e 54 JOHN OF DAMASCUS Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be g lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but have eternal life.”133 59 (11.55): Comment: Understand how he said that it was to deter the peeple who were unstable and ready for idolatry that he laid down a law against making any likeness, and that the raised up ser— pent was an image of the passion of the Lord. 6 0 (11.56,111.53): That the invention of images is nothing new, but an ancient practice, known and familiar to the holy and elect Fathers, Listen to this: It is written in the life of Basil the Blessed by his disciple and successor in the see, Helladius, that the saint was standing in front of an icon of Our Lady, in which there was depicted a figure of the ever-praised martyr, Mercurius; he stood, praying for the overthrow of the most godless and apostate tyrant, Julian. From which icon he learnt this revelation: for he saw that for a little while the martyr disappeared, and not long afterwards [he reappeared] holding a blood-stained spear.‘34 6 1 (11.57,111.54):1n the Life ofJohn Chrysostom it is written in these verywordsfI35 The blessed John loved very much the epistles of the most wise Paul. 133Jn 3:14—15. 134There is no other evidence that Helladius wrote a Life of St Basil the Great, though he was his successor in the see of Caesarea. The Life of Basil by his friend Amphilochius has a similar story, but there is no mention of an icon. The same story, presumably based on Amphilochius’ Life, is found in John Malalas’ Chronicle, book 13.25 (ed. Dindorf, 333—4; Eng. trans. Jeffreys, 181-2), but again there is no mention of an icon: it is a dream. ’35These passages are not from the Dialogue on the Life aflohn Chrysostom, com— posed after his death by his disciple, Palladius, but from a later Life, based on Palla- dius, by the seventh—century Bishop of Alexandria, George. The Proclus mentioned further on is John Chrysostom's disciple who later became Archbishop of Constan— tinople and had the saint’s relics translated to Constantinople. Treatise I S 5 And a little further on: He had a depiction of the same apostle Paul in an icon, in the place where he used to rest for a little while because of his bodily infir— mity; for he was given to many vigils beyond nature. And when he had finished his epistles, he would gaze at it and attend to him as if he were alive and bless him, and bring the whole of his thoughts to h1m, imagining that he was speaking with him in his contemplation. And after other words: As when Proclu‘s ceased speaking, he gazed at the image of the apostle and beheld his character to be like the one who had appeared to him [i.e., John]. Making a reverence136 to John, he said, pointing with his finger to the icon, “Forgive me, Father, the one I saw speak— ing to you is like this; indeed, I assume that it is the very same.” 6 2 (11.58): In the Life ofSaintEupraxia it is read that there appeared to her the figure ofthe Lord in the midst of the flock he guarded.137 6 3 (11.59): In the Life ofStMary ongyptit is written that she prayed to an icon of Our Lady and besought her to become her guarantor and thus gained entrance to the church.138 64 (11.67): From the Spiritual Meadow of our holy father, Sophro- mus, Archbishop of Jerusalem:139 _ Abba Theodore the [Eliote said that there was on the Mount of thes a certain recluse, a great fighter; and the demon of fornica- tion waged battle against him. One day, therefore, as he laid into him vehemently, the elder began to complain and said to the demon, ‘36Literally: metanoia. :dee images, 31.136, wfiiiere this Life is quoted. ee mages, .135, w ere a passage from the Li e 0 Mar 0 ‘ ' '39John Moschus, Spiritual Meadow 45 (PG 87.29foog-D; fiahngyllgrltslgytzi;6) The Spiritual Meadow, telling of the journey John Moschus and Sophrohius of Jerusalem to visit the monks in Palestine, Syria, Sinai and Egypt at the end of the sixth century, is 1n fact by John Moschus, though in Byzantine times it was commonl cited as here, as being by the more famous Sophronius. y ) ..=_' ll 56 JOHN OF DAMASCUS “When are you going to leave me alone? For'the future withdraw from me; you are growing old together with me.” The demon showed himself visibly and said, “Swear to me that you will tell no one what I am going to say to you, and I shall fight against you no more.” And the elder swore to him, “By the One who dwells in the highest, I shall not tell anyone what you say to me.” Then the demon said to him, “Do not venerate this icon, and I will no longer wage battle against you.” The icon had a depiction of our Lady, Holy Mary, the Mother of God, holding our Lord Jesus Christ. The recluse said to the demon, “Go away, I shall think about it.” On the next day, therefore, it was revealed to Abba Theodore the [Eliote who was then dwelling in the Laura of Pharan, and he went and was told every— thing. The elder said to the recluse, “Truly, you were mocked when you swore, but you did well to speak out. It would be better for you to leave no brothel in this town unentered than to refuse to venerate our Lord and God Iesus Christ together with his own mother.” He then strengthened and confirmed him with many words, and then left to go to his own place. The demon therefore appeared again to the recluse and said to him, “What is this, you wicked old monk?140 Did you not swear to me that you would tell no one? How then have you spoken out everything to one who came to you? I tell you, wicked old man, that you will be condemned as a perjurer on the day of judgment.” The recluse answered him and said, “What I swore, I swore, and that I perjured myself, I know. But I swore falsely to my Lord and Maker; I will not listen to you.” 6 5 (II.68): Comment: You see, that he spoke of veneration of the image of the one depicted, and how wicked it is not to venerate this, and how the demon would have preferred [such veneration] to fornication. lWI‘he demon calls the recluse kakoge'ros, a derisory variant of kalogéros, “vener- able,” term of address to a monk (cf. the modern Greek kalogeros). “Y Treatise I 5 7 6o (11,69): Since many priests and emperors have been endowed With Wisdom that comes to Christians from above, from God and have been distinguished for their piety, their doctrine and their lives and many synods of holy and divinely inspired fathers have taken place, why does no one attempt to explain these things? We shall not suffer a new faith to be taught. “For a law has come out from Sion ” the Holy Spirit declares in prophecy, “and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem?“1 We shall not suffer different things to be thought at different times, changing with the seasons, and the faith to become a matter of ridicule and jest to outsiders. We shall not suffer the cus- tom of the fathers to be subject to an imperial constitution that seeks to overthrow it. For it is not for pious emperors to overthrow eccle- Siastical laws. For this is not the way of the fathers; for it is piratical for these things to be imposed by force, and they shall not prevail Witness to this is the second synod that took place at Ephesus which came to be called the “Robber Synod,” imposed by the imperial hand, when the blessed Flavian was done to death.142 These thin s are matters for synods, not emperors, as the Lord said, “Where tng or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” It was not to emperors that Christ gave the authority to bind and loose, but to apostles and to those who succeeded them as (shepherds and teachers. “And if an angel,” says Paul the A ostle should proclaim another Gospel to you than that yOLFhave received":143 and we keep silence about what follows sparin them and hoping for their conversion. But if we see their )madnesgs con— tinues without conversion, then we shall bring in what remains but may this not be necessary! ’ l“Isa 2:3. l“John Damascene refers to the s ' I ‘ . ynod of Ephesus held in 449, wh' h h Eutyches against FlaVian, patriarch of Constantinople. Flavian was so Lll—tiZateldD dig hediedofhis" ' ' .- tO Pukheria). mlunes' Pope Leo “Had thls SYUOd a latroamum (act of robbery: ep- 95 l“Cf. Gal 1:8. I} 58 JOHN 01: DAMASCUS 67 (11.70): If anyone enters a house, in which a'painter has painted on the walls in colors the story of Moses and Aaron, then perhaps he will ask about those who led them through the sea as on dry land: “Who are these?” What will you reply, when asked? Surely: “The Children of Israel”? “Who is this striking the sea with his rod?” Surely: “Moses”? So that, if anyone depicts Christ crucified, and is ” he will say, “Christ God, who became flesh for asked, “Who is this?, our sake.” Yes, Master, I venerate and embrace with ardent longing goodness, everything that is yours: your divinity, your power, your your mercy towards me, your descending to our condition, your incarnation, your flesh. And just as I am afraid of touching red-hot iron, not because of the nature of iron, but because of the fire that is united with it, so I venerate your flesh, not because of the nature of flesh, but because of the divinity hypostatically united to it. We ven— erate your sufferings. Who sees death venerated, or sufferings treated with reverence? But truly we venerate the bodily death of my God and the saving sufferings, we venerate your image; all that is yours we venerate, your servants, your friends, and above all the Mother who gave birth to you. people of God, the holy the traditions of the Church. For just as the ones of a building will quickly bring ruin to that building, so will the removal, ever so little, of what has been handed down. Let us be firm, unflinching, unmoved, established upon the secure rock, which is Christ, to whom is due glory, honor and veneration, with the Father and the Spirit, now and for ever and to the unbounded ages of ages. Amen. nation,144 to cling to removal of one of the st “‘1 Pet 229, quoting Exod i916, which Iohn probably applies not simply to the Church, but to the people of the Byzantine (or Roman) Empire. TREATISE II The Second Discourse of the humble monk, Iohn the Damascene, to those who speak against images 1 Grant forgiveness to one who asks, m mast ‘ word of assurance from me, the least and uleess 51:1: (:lfnt‘ljier (Ccfiiifcfl of God.'For, as God is my witness, it is not on account of lo ostentation' that I am urged to speak but out of zeal for the trithryFor I possess this alone as my hope of salvation, and with it I hope to me: the Lord Christ and I pray that I may offer this to him in e iatio for the monstrous ways in which I have erred. For he wxllfo had received from his master five talents approached havin a" d another five, and he who received two came with an equal “be two. But the wicked slave, who had received one talent and burrirelde'r) approached with one talent without even interest and heard hims ll’f condemned to outer darkness. Fearing, therefore, lest I suffer tlci same fate, I set before you, as discerning assayers, the talent of l e quence that He gave me, so that when my Lord comes he m :1er that it has multiplied and borne fruit in the form of souls andyfind— 1fng me a falthful slave he may cause me to enter into his sweetest '0 or which I have longed. But give me an ear of hearing and la outJthy’ tables of your hearts to receive my discourse and judge fory its ow: sake the power of what I say, in this second discourse on ima es that I have put together. Some of the children of the Church have egjoined S9 ...
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