Christian History Essay

Download this Essay in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Essay:

Byantine Iconoclasm

Byzantine Iconoclasm

The author of this report is to answer a series of questions about the Byzantine Empire and their practice of iconoclasm. A series of questions shall be answered to that end. The first question is why Leo III installed iconoclasm in the first place and what his motivations were. The second question will be why Constantine V continued the policy. The third question asks whether iconoclasm was a continuation of a few between the orthodox and monophysite Christians. The fourth question asks whether iconoclasm helped paved the way for the Papal/Frankish alliance and the eventual coronation of Charlemagne. The fifth question asks why Leo V newly imposed iconoclasm, the sixth asks for a definition of the roles of Irene and Theodora, the seventh asks about the impacts of Iconoclasm on the Empire from a religious/artistic/cultural standpoint and the eighth asks about the questions that are/were raised in regard to the role of emperors as it relates to Christianity. While there are still debates to this day about the motives and outcomes brought on by iconoclasm, most of the answers are fairly settled.

Analysis

Leo implemented iconoclasm as he viewed the reverence of symbols as being a form of "idolatry." There was a volcanic eruption just before this decision by Leo and it is asserted by many that the use of symbols was a direct reaction to the use of images by the people that Leo later restricted. He went to far as to include images of the emperor as well as religious symbols like the cross were banned. However, there were some military implications as he did not want to feed the motivations and aspirations of Jews or Muslims, who were obviously not entirely (if at all) the same side as the Christians (NWE, 2014).

Constantine continued the policy because he was personally committed to the same idea as Leo. It served him well as he was militarily and cultural successful himself. He had the support of the bishops and other personnel of the church as they held the same view about "veneration" of the saints and such. However, the view was not monolithic as John of Damascus was against the idea. In the end, the anti-iconoclasm stance that Constantine took was seen as his way as asserting authority as some council members and others were exiled and Constantine viewed the symbols as heresy. He perhaps took the view that any use of icons was an affront to his own rule (NWE, 2014).

Regarding the third question, the answer was absolutely "yes" as there was clearly a demarcation as to what symbols should be revered and what symbols should not. Regarding the suggested use of Geanakoplos wrote a lot about how the different groups replied and communicated with each other, including when Barlaam of the Greeks demanded from the Pope that "all will submit" (Geanakoplos, 1989). Iconoclasm absolutely paved the way between the Papal group and the Frankish group as Emporor Michael II was himself against iconography. Indeed, there was a discvussion circa 790 AD that centered on precisely that and the Byzantines were the main source of this discussion (UPenn, 2014).

Leo's restoration of the iconoclasm period was moved in part by a number of things. These would include the fact that the prior Leo, his namesake, did much the same thing, that there were military failures that he thought were brought on by the disfavor and disapproval of God and so forth. Even with the restoration of the iconoclasm, it was muted compared to that of the prior Leo and was not nearly as aggressiveat least at first. However, things ramped up quite quickly when people like the Patriarch Nicephorus (who later took over Irene's reign, as mentioned below) resisted what Leo V was ordering (OL, 2014).

Regarding Irene and Theodora, they were or course empresses that actually embraced and welcome icons. Irene came first and then Theodora. While there is some debate about the role they played, their presence and love for icons ended Iconoclasm as was established by the two Leo's and Constantine. Theodora was the spouse of Byzantine Emperor Theophilios and she later became a saint within the annals of the Eastern Orthodox church. Even though Irene and Theodora did not hold the status of their spouses, they still made a marked impact on the church (OCA, 2014). Irene reintroduced pictures, but did so slowly and only after she became a widow (BBC, 2014).

Regarding the impacts that iconoclasm had, there were many. In terms art, there were some marked effects in that a lot of the art and imagery that normally would have emerged during the reigns of Constantine, Leo III and Leo were either destroyed or simply did not happen. This alone induces many to view the reigns of one or more of these leaders as a negative. That being said, there was the emergence of art that was made naturally and/or without the use of human hands, known as acheiropoieta. A modern example of this would be items that ostensibly or supposedly bear the image of the Virgin Mary even though the images are completely accidental and natural in nature rather than being crafted by the design of an artist. The political and cultural effects of iconoclasm were also quite obvious. While the Leos and Constantine were generally trying to adhere to the precept in the Bible that discussed that one should not have an idol, some held that this was not applicable to Christian images while others held that ALL images were included. Indeed, some hold the cross (which came later, obviously, as the idol comments first came in the Old Testament) to be an example of idolatry while others held it was a symbol of Jesus dying on the cross and thus should not be treated as heresy or something to be quashed. Even today, there is question whether the veneration of images is being directed towards the images themselves or the people or entities (e.g. God) that they images are supposed to represent. In other words, when someone see's the Virgin Mary in an item, the question is whether they are revering just the image appearing or the person behind the image, Mary herself. Indeed, Mary is deemed by Christians to be the earthly Mother of Jesus. Some might think that to be splitting hairs but people do sometimes get obsessed with images and forget what underpins them (NWE, 2014).

Regarding the role of iconoclasm and the role of the emperor vs. that of Christianity, it proved the point that some emperors get a fairly inflated viewpoint about their power and influence. Indeed, while the emperor is viewed, rightly so, as the earthly leader of the Christians (at least at that time), he is not God and he is not Jesus and he does not get to step in and throw his weight around in a way that pertains to questions that are far from settled and official. Empresses made their own impacts in that they were at the right hand of their husbands and were also actually in power when their husbands died. When it comes to both emperors and empresses, there seemed to be the attitude and viewpoint that leaders would work for God or for themselves. While the Leos and Constantine seemed to want to portend that they were voicing the intentions of God given that they dcited scripture, it soon became clear that they were a little more interested (if not a lot more interested) in their own power and asserting their own dominance rather than really caring about adhering to the Bible and other teachings of Jesus and God based on the interpretations and such of scholars and saints since then. The Catholic (and similar) churches have had a history…[continue]

Cite This Essay:

"Christian History" (2014, October 22) Retrieved December 1, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/christian-history-192957

"Christian History" 22 October 2014. Web.1 December. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/christian-history-192957>

"Christian History", 22 October 2014, Accessed.1 December. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/christian-history-192957

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • History and Development of Contemporary Worship

    Christian Worship The History and Development of Contemporary Worship Biblical Foundations of Christian Worship The New Testament is, in many ways, the ultimate expression of Christian worship because the Gospels detail the life and teachings of Jesus Christ within the context and community of individuals who believed in Christ even in the midst of persecution. However, to understand the biblical foundations of Christian worship, it is important to first examine the Old Testament.

  • History of Rome the City

    By about 400 AD, the old social and physical structures of Rome were in decline, the city losing power both within its own empire and within the West as a whole (Miles 41). The decline of the old order in Rome allowed a space for the ascension of Christianity, which began in the first century AD. For the first two centuries of the Christian era, Roman authorities classified Christianity as

  • Christian Worldview Between Questions and

    Individual Christians must accept the teachings of others or make up their own minds. For Christians, God is the judge of right and wrong and scripture represents the accepted body of legal precedent (Cosgrove, pp. 38-40). The Golden Rule, the ultimate statement of Christian ethics, is grounded on "the law of Moses" (Luke 10:25) and "taught in the law and the prophets" (Matthew 7:12), and its universal applicability likewise hinges

  • History Social Science Textbook Controversy History

    So let's change the interpretation a little bit so that it will be the way we wished it were." Well, that's not what history is. History is what happened, and history ought to be nothing more than the quest to find out what happened. Now, if you want to get into why what happened, that's probably valid too, but why what happened shouldn't have much of anything to do

  • Christian Transformation The Evolution of

    In contrast, the exterior was almost undecorated" (25). Another significant church that was built contemporaneously with the Hagia Sophia was the cruciform Church of the Holy Apostles (536-546), which featured five domes (Nickel). Figure 3. Cross-domed church. Most important type of ground-plan of the Middle Byzantine period. In addition to the central dome, more elaborate examples have domes over the corner chapels -- quincunx. From the tenth century onwards, the

  • Christians and the Legal System Christian Relationship

    Christians and the Legal System Christian Relationship to the Legal System As many individuals understand, despite any religious affiliation, the legal system is set in place in order to foster the creation and continuation of a good society. This good society can then be achieved by promoting the good and eliminating the bad. It is in this elimination of the bad, that societies and their legal systems begin to differ. While certain

  • History of Africa

    History Of Africa Nationalism: African nationalism is a political movement that desires to create one unified Africa. Their minor objective is to have national acknowledgement of African tribes by allowing them to create their own states within nations and to preserve their individual cultures. Political action began in the early 20th century with anti-colonial rebellions by natives who had been mission-educated. By 1939, there were nationalist groups in nearly every territory of


Read Full Essay
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved