Volume 9, 2009
Hypostatic Union and Pictorial Representation of Christ in Iconophile Apologia
This article explores the fundamental Christological principles discussed by Byzantine iconophile writers of the eight and ninth centuries, John of Damascus (675-749), Theodore the Studite (759-826) and Patriarch Nikephoros I of Constantinople (758-828). Within the larger context of theological concerns, the iconophile focus their attention on two key points: (a) the notion of the hypostatic union of human and divine natures in Christ; and (b) the properties of circumscription and uncircumscribability. These Christological aspects play critical part in supporting the main objective of iconophiles, the defense of Chalcedonian formulation, of which the theoretical justification of Christ’s pictorial representation is simply one part, albeit a central one. In support to their theological cause, the iconophiles also make recourse to the distinction between nature and hypostasis and devote an important part of their exposition for the holy images on the dogmatic significance of the Incarnation.