Friday with St. John of Damascus – Mary and Images

English: John of Damascus, icon from Damascus ...
English: John of Damascus, icon from Damascus (Syria), 19th c., attributed to Iconographer Ne’meh Naser Homsi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Again, an image is expressive of something in the future, mystically shadowing forth what is to happen. For instance, the ark represents the image of Our Lady, Mother of God, so does the staff and the earthen jar. The serpent brings before us Him who vanquished on the Cross the bite of the original serpent; the sea, water, and the cloud the grace of baptism.

Again, things which have taken place are expressed by images for the remembrance either of a wonder, or an honour, or dishonour, or good or evil, to help those who look upon it in after times that we may avoid evils and imitate goodness. It is of two kinds, the written image in books, as when God had the law inscribed on tablets, and when He enjoined that the lives of holy men should be recorded and sensible memorials be preserved in remembrance; as, for instance, the earthen jar and the staff in the ark. So now we preserve in writing the images and the good deeds of the past. Either, therefore, take away images altogether and be out of harmony with God who made these regulations, or receive them with the language and in the manner which befits them. In speaking of the manner let us go into the question of worship. – John Damascene, On Holy Images (trans. Mary H. Allies; London: Thomas Baker, 1898), 12–13.

Whilst rereading St. John Domascene I was struck with the very Platonic notion of images here. Perhaps it had something to do with reading Augustine and his view of the theatre in Confessions.

Anyway, 2 things. First, I see the Theology Mary is present here. John is mining Scripture for images of Mary. It isn’t really that difficult. Second, images represent something of an reenactment of God’s narrative. A perfect mimesis, if you will.

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One Reply to “Friday with St. John of Damascus – Mary and Images”

  1. Nice new mobile look. But it would be nicer if the # of comments showed up for each subject on the opening page, like the old version.

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