The Theology of Images and the Legitimation of Power in Eighth Century Byzantium

McGuckin, John A.

This paper considers some aspects of the relation between historical conditions and theological arguments raised in the Iconoclastic controversy, with reference, in the main, to the work of the two major iconodule writers, John of Damascus (c. 675-749) and Theodore the Studite (759-826). The former who came from an aristocratic Byzantine family, wrote from Mar Saba monastery, near Bethlehem, in Arab lands that were outside imperial control; in Three apologies against those who cast down the icons1 he provided the most important systematic vindication of the iconodule position. Apart from being the most important of the Orthodox controversialists he is also the main figure (along with Patriarch Germanos) during the first stage of the iconoclastic controversy, which began with the accession of the Emperor Leo III the Isaurian in 717 and reached a first resolution in the Seventh Oecumenical Council's vindication of the iconodule position at Nicaea in 787, with the subsequent restoration of the great Icon of Christ Antiphonitis over the Bronze Gate to the Great Imperial Palace at Constantinople.

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St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly

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Union Theological Seminary
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April 16, 2012