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2008 | 21 | 69-80

Article title

THE ART OF THE ICON IN THE FACE OF EVIL (Sztuka ikony wobec zla)


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Among basic issues facing Christianity was the question of the existence of evil in the universe. The usual answers were given from the point of view of Christian philosophy and theology. It is, however, worth investigating whether the problem of evil found its reflection also in the Christian iconography linked with the art of the icon. An icon, as it attempts to combat limitations connected with the material, sensual perception, presents the reality of the Kingdom of God to human eyes. Its existence is based on the principle that in every human being there is an image of and similarity to God. An icon presents the reality of the restored divine image in a human being and therefore refers to the eschatological completeness. By showing the reality of salvation an icon creatively breaks down the evil and destruction brought about by sin. The art of the icon imparts an impression of how the human body shall look after resurrection.Therefore, it is not directed backwards towards the earthly Paradise or history - it is directed forward, to the future, to the Kingdom of God. The entire interior decoration of an Orthodox church is to present transcendent reality, and the iconographic program of the temple is subordinate to this principle. Thus, by looking at a human image in an icon, the viewer is supposed to see God in whose image Man was created. An icon, therefore, has no independent existence, but only leads to the beings in themselves - it attests to the existence of a certain form of the Second Coming in the world of today. The image of Christ, who deigned to take human body, leads to the image of the infinite God. Saint Maximus the Confessor (ca. 580-662) maintained that the liturgy is a step towards deification. This view can refer to the icon as well. An icon is directed towards its Archetype: God, who is the beginning and fulfilment of creation and motion, and it shows God's intention, which was revealed to us by Christ in his earthly existence and which is the ultimate goal of all creation.







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  • Henryk Paprocki, Uniwersytet w Bialymstoku, Katedra Teologii Prawoslawnej, ul. Sw. Mikolaja 5, 15-420 Bialystok, Poland


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