COME YOU PEOPLE

Here is a 17th century icon given the title  “Come You People, Let Us Worship the Three-Hypostatic Godhood.”  But if you have been reading here for some time, you will recognize it as basically just a more elaborate version of the New Testament Trinity “Among the Powers,” that is, among the ranks of angels.

As you saw in an earlier posting (https://russianicons.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/cherubim-and-seraphim-and-thrones-o-my-the-new-testament-trinity-icon/), icons of the New Testament Trinity are sometimes given the title “Image of the Three-Hypostatic Godhood” (ОБРАЗ ТРIИПОСТАСНАГО БОЖЕСТВА — Obraz Triipostasnago Bozhestva).

In the center we see Jesus at left, God the Father (Lord Sabaoth) at right, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove in the air between them.

The title of this icon is taken from the Stikhera, tone 8, used at the Great Vespers Pentecost service:

Приидите, людие, триипостасному божеству поклонимся, Сыну во Отце, со
Святым Духом: Отец бо безлетно роди Сына соприсносущна и сопрестольна, и
Дух Святый бе во Отце, с Сыном прославляемь: едина сила, едино существо,
едино божество, емуже покланяющеся вси глаголем: Святый Боже, вся
соделавый Сыном, содейством Святаго Духа: Святый крепкий, имже Отца
познахом и Дух Святый прииде в мир: Святый безсмертный, утешительный
Душе, от Отца исходяй, и в Сыне почиваяй: Троице Святая, слава Тебе.

Come you people, let us worship the Three-hypostatic Godhood; the Son in the Father, with the Holy Spirit; for the Father before time begot the Son ever co-existing and co-enthroned; and the Holy Spirit was in the Father, glorified together with the Son; one power, one substance, one Godhood, in whom worshiping  we all say:
Holy God, who made all by the Son, with the co-operation of the Holy Spirit;
Holy Mighty, through whom we have known the Father, and the Holy Spirit came to the world; Holy Immortal, comforting Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and rests in the Son; Holy Trinity, glory to you.”

In the 16th century there was a big controversy over the making and use of such elaborate and symbolic “mystic-didactic” icons as this one and others, among them “In the Grave Fleshly,” “Sophia, Wisdom of God,” “On the Seventh Day God Rested,” “It is Worthy,” the “Symbol of Faith,” the politically propagandistic “Blessed is the Army of the Heavenly Tsar,” and “The Only Begotten Son.”  The complaint was that they could not and did not adequately and correctly express the dogmas of the Church, and that their complexity was simply confusing.  The leader of the opposition to such icons was a prominent government secretary and “Keeper of the Seal” under Tsar Ivan IV (“Ivan the Terrible”) named Ivan Mikhailovich Viskovatuiy (Иван Михайлович Висковатый).  But a Church council in 1554 condemned his views (with some small exceptions), and he consequently repented his “heretical” ideas and fell in line with the decree.

Rather confusingly, there is another and unusual icon type also called “Come You People, Let Us Worship the Three-Hypostatic Godhood.”  But this second type also includes images of the Annunciation, the Birth of Jesus, the Crucifixion, and the Descent into Hades (Resurrection), so it is easily distinguished from the first type.

At the top we see a “Fatherhood” image in the center, with Mary to the left of it and John the Forerunner to the right.  At far left is the youthful Christ enthroned, and at far right the mature Christ enthroned.  Angels accompany these three top images, and at the base is a gathering of people worshiping the Trinity.

 

TWO EUCHARISTIC ICON TYPES

Today we will take a look at two Eucharistic types  — more of those “mystic-didactic” icons that became prominent in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The first is titled “Let All Human Flesh be Silent.”  The title is taken from this excerpt from the Liturgy of St. Basil, used in the Eucharistic celebration on Holy Saturday (the Saturday before Easter Sunday) in place of the usual “Cherubic Hymn.”

Да молчит всякая плоть человеча, и да стоит со страхом и трепетом, и ничтоже земное в себе да помышляет; Царь бо царствующих, и Господь господствующих, приходит заклатися и датися в снедь верным. Предходят же Сему лицы ангельстии со всяким Началом и Властию, многоочитии Херувими, и шестокрилатии Серафими, лица закрывающе, и вопиюще песнь: Аллилуйя, Аллилуйя, Аллилуйя.

Let all human flesh be silent, and let it stand with fear and trembling, and let itself consider nothing earthly; for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords comes forth to be sacrificed and given as food to the believers; and there go before him the choirs of Angels, with every Dominion and Power, many-eyed Cherubim and six-winged Seraphim, covering their faces, and singing out the hymn: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

What we see in the 16th century example above is the so-called “Great Entrance,” when the clergy bring the bread and wine to be placed upon the altar.  We see the “Three Hierarchs” — Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom and Basil the Great standing by the altar.  The procession coming from the left side is led by a deacon with a candle, followed by another holding a chalice (potir in Slavic) and a censer (kadilo in Slavic).  Behind him comes a bishop holding a diskos above his head.  That is the vessel on which the liturgical bread lies — represented in the icon by the body of Christ Immanuel (Jesus as child or youth).  The asteriskos (the open metal  support for the covering cloth) that represents the Star of Bethlehem is over it.  The last person in the procession holds aloft the aer (vozdukh in Slavic) — the covering cloth that will lie upon the asteriskos (zvezditsa in Slavic) to cover the diskos.  In the air above, we see various ranks of angels — cherubim, seraphim, thrones (the names “Dominion” and Power”  in the liturgical excerpt represent ranks of angels).  We also see other familiar figures, among them apostles and John the Forerunner (with wings), as well as the Repentant Thief Rakh holding his cross.  The crowds of  people without halos in the foreground represent the “All Human Flesh” that is supposed to be silent.  God the Father (Lord Sabaoth) is at upper left, with the Holy Spirit as a dove proceeding from him.  The general idea of the icon is that the ranks of angels are present and participating invisibly in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Here is another “Stroganov School” example from the 17th century:

damolchitstrog17theeuw_1

(Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow)

Here is a rather more elaborate 17th century version of the same type, showing the ranks of angels separated into different circles, along with many more saints of various kinds:

The other Eucharistic icon type we will look at today is “Who Mystically Represent the Cherubim,” a title which is taken from the so-called “Cherubic Hymn” of the liturgy.  This hymn is the one ordinarily sung during the liturgy, but on Holy Saturday it is replaced, as we have seen, by the “Let All Human Flesh be Silent” version.

Иже херувимы тайно образующе,
и Животворящей Троицѣ трисвятую пѣснь припѣвающе,
Всякое нынѣ житейское отложимъ попеченіе.
Яко да Царя всѣхъ подъимемъ,
ангельскими невидимо дориносима чинми.
Аллилуіа

“[We] who cherubim mystically represent
And to the Life-bearing Trinity the “Thrice Holy” hymn sing,
All cares of life let us now put aside
So we may receive the Tsar of all,
By invisible ranks of angels escorted.
Alleluia.

The “Thrice Holy” hymn is of course the “Holy, Holy, Holy” of Isaiah 6:1-3:

And it came to pass in the year in which king Ozias died, that I saw the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne, and the house was full of his glory.  And seraphim stood round about him: each one had six wings: and with two they covered their face, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one cried to the other, and they said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

We see the Cherubic Hymn written in Slavic across the top of this example, a 16th century icon from the Annunciation Cathedral in the city of Solvuichegodsk (Сольвычегодск):

(Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow)

In the top circle — surrounded by angels — is the Otechestvo — the “Fatherhood” — showing God the Father (Lord Sabaoth) with Jesus as Immanuel on his lap.  Below him is Jesus robed as the Great High Priest, celebrating the Eucharistic liturgy, surrounded by angels and saints.  At his far left and far right, angels perform the Proskomedia — the preparation of the bread and wine for the Eucharist.  At lower left we see angels forming the procession of the Great Entry, and Jesus again at the lower center.  The figures without halos at lower right are said to represent the wealthy Stroganov family, patrons of the Solvuichegodsk Cathedral.

 

THE PSALM 44 ICON

Today’s icon, from the 16th century, is related both to the Deisis sub-type commonly called “The Queen Stands at Your Right,” and to “Sophia, Wisdom of God.”  We shall see the relationships on closer examination.

(Andrei Rublyov Museum, Moscow)

This icon takes its title from the words of Psalm 44 (45 in King James Version numbering), rendered in the KJV as “My heart is inditing a good matter.”  When did you ever hear anyone use the word “indite”?  In English it means “to compose”  But in the Slavic Version it is:

Отрыгну Сердце Мое Слово Благо
Otruigny Serdtse Moe Slovo Blago

We can translate it rather literally as:
Gives-forth    Heart   of-me a Word Good
In normal English,
My Heart is Uttering a Good Word.

Oddly enough, the word I translate here as “gives forth” and “utters” commonly means “to belch” or “to vomit” in modern Russian.

The key to the icon lies in the “good Word” mentioned, and if we look at the Greek Septuagint version, it helps us to better see why:

Εξηρευξατο ἡ καρδία μου λόγον ἀγαθόν
Exereuxato he kardia mou logon agathon…

Logon is the accusative form of logos, meaning “word.”  You will recall that the first words of the Gospel of John are:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word.”  And you will recall that the “Word” —  the Logos — of God in icons is Jesus.

So the Word — the Slovo or Logos in Psalm 44 — is understood in Eastern Orthodoxy to be Jesus — the pre-existent son of God, and the Psalm is therefore considered to signify the “begetting” of the Word — of God the Son — by God the Father.

Let’s examine its various elements, taken from the lines of Psalm 44:

At the top we see Gospod’ Savaof —  “Lord Sabaoth,” who is God the Father; and below him is the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove.

At upper left, we see King David — called a prophet in Eastern Orthodoxy — writing his Psalm:
…глагóлю áзъ дѣлá моя́ Царéви: язы́къ мóй трóсть кни́жника скоропи́сца.
I declare my works to the king: my tongue is the pen of a quick writer.

Seated on the throne in the center of the image is a crowned figure — this is Jesus as the Word uttered by the Father.  He holds a scepter in his hand:

That is taken from verse 7:
Престóлъ твóй, Бóже, въ вѣ́къ вѣ́ка: жéзлъ прáвости жéзлъ цáр­ст­вiя тво­егó.
Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of righteousness.

The scroll he holds bears a part of verse 3 of the Psalm:
…сегó рáди благослови́ тя Бóгъ во вѣ́къ.
“...therefore God has blessed you forever.

At his knees is a quiver of arrows at left, and a bow at right, taken from verse 6:
“Стрѣ́лы твоя́ изощрéны, си́льне…”
Your arrows are sharpened, Mighty One… ”

At his feet are fallen his conquered enemies, as in the second part of verse 6:
…лю́дiе подъ тобóю падýтъ въ сéрдцы врáгъ Царéвыхъ.
the nations shall fall under you; they are in the heart of the king’s enemies.

The angel at right pours out the oil of anointing upon the head of the Word, as in verse 8:
Возлюби́лъ еси́ прáвду и воз­ненави́дѣлъ еси́ беззакóнiе: сегó рáди помáза тя́, Бóже, Бóгъ твóй елéемъ рáдости пáче при­­чáст­никъ тво­и́хъ.
You have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity: therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your fellows.

At left is a Queen (Mary) as in verse 9:
…предстá цари́ца одеснýю тебé, въ ри́захъ позлащéн­ныхъ одѣ́яна преиспещрéна.
“…the queen stood on your right hand, clothed in robes worked with gold, and arrayed in various colors.”

At right is a church, with people in the doorway, taken from verse 16:
…при­­ведýт­ся въ весéлiи и рáдованiи, введýт­ся въ хрáмъ Царéвъ.
They shall be brought with gladness and exultation: they shall be led into the king’s temple.

In front of the church are two crowned figures.  That at left is John the Forerunner, whose scroll bears the beginning of verse 18 of the Psalm:
сегó рáди лю́дiе исповѣ́дят­ся тебѣ́ въ вѣ́къ и во вѣ́къ вѣ́ка.
“…therefore shall the nations give thanks to you forever, and forever and ever.”

And at right King Solomon, whose scroll bears part of verse 8 of the Psalm:
сегó рáди помáза тя́, Бóже, Бóгъ твóй елéемъ рáдости пáче при­­чáст­никъ тво­и́хъ.
“...therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your fellows.”  You will recall that Solomon is the traditional author of the Book of Proverbs, which speaks of Wisdom (Sophia), understood in icons to be Jesus, as in Proverbs 9:1: “ Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars.

The fellow with the red cap at far left is the Prophet Daniel, holding a scroll bearing part of verse 5 of the Psalm:
…и́стины рáди и крóтости и прáвды: и настáвитъ тя́ ди́вно десни́ца твоя́.
“…because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and your right hand shall guide you wonderfully.” Daniel is considered to have foretold the coming kingdom of Jesus, as in Daniel 2:44:
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

Just for reference, here is all of Psalm 44 (45 in the KJV) in Church Slavic:

  • 1.  Въ конéцъ, о измѣня́емыхъ сынóмъ Корéовымъ въ рáзумъ, пѣ́снь о воз­лю́блен­нѣмъ.
  • 2.  Отры́гну сéрдце моé слóво блáго, глагóлю áзъ дѣлá моя́ Царéви: язы́къ мóй трóсть кни́жника скоропи́сца.
  • 3.  Красéнъ добрóтою пáче сынóвъ человѣ́ческихъ, излiя́ся благодáть во устнáхъ тво­и́хъ: сегó рáди благослови́ тя Бóгъ во вѣ́къ.
  • 4.  Препоя́ши мéчь твóй по бедрѣ́ тво­éй, си́льне,
  • 5.   красотóю тво­éю и добрóтою тво­éю: и наляцы́, и успѣвáй, и цáр­ст­вуй и́стины рáди и крóтости и прáвды: и настáвитъ тя́ ди́вно десни́ца твоя́.
  • 6.  Стрѣ́лы твоя́ изощрéны, си́льне: лю́дiе подъ тобóю падýтъ въ сéрдцы врáгъ Царéвыхъ.
  • 7.  Престóлъ твóй, Бóже, въ вѣ́къ вѣ́ка: жéзлъ прáвости жéзлъ цáр­ст­вiя тво­егó.
  • 8.  Возлюби́лъ еси́ прáвду и воз­ненави́дѣлъ еси́ беззакóнiе: сегó рáди помáза тя́, Бóже, Бóгъ твóй елéемъ рáдости пáче при­­чáст­никъ тво­и́хъ.
  • 9.  Сми́рна и стáкти и касíа от­ ри́зъ тво­и́хъ, от­ тя́жестей слонóвыхъ {от­ хрáмовъ слонóвыхъ}, изъ ни́хже воз­весели́ша тя́.
  • 10.  Дщéри царéй въ чéсти тво­éй: предстá цари́ца одеснýю тебé, въ ри́захъ позлащéн­ныхъ одѣ́яна преиспещрéна.
  • 11. Слы́ши, дщи́, и ви́ждь, и при­­клони́ ýхо твоé, и забýди лю́ди твоя́ и дóмъ отцá тво­егó:
  • 12.  и воз­желáетъ Цáрь добрóты тво­ея́, занé тóй éсть Госпóдь твóй, и поклони́шися емý,
  • 13.  и дщи́ ти́рова съ дáры: лицý тво­емý помóлят­ся богáтiи лю́дстiи.
  • 14.  Вся́ слáва дщéре Царéвы внýтрь: ря́сны златы́ми одѣ́яна и преиспещрéна.
  • 15.  Приведýт­ся Царю́ дѣ́вы вслѣ́дъ ея́, и́скрен­нiя ея́ при­­ведýт­ся тебѣ́:
  • 16. при­­ведýт­ся въ весéлiи и рáдованiи, введýт­ся въ хрáмъ Царéвъ.
  • 17.  Вмѣ́сто отéцъ тво­и́хъ бы́ша сы́нове тво­и́: постáвиши я́ кня́зи по всéй земли́.
  • 18.  Помянý и́мя твоé во вся́комъ рóдѣ и рóдѣ: сегó рáди лю́дiе исповѣ́дят­ся тебѣ́ въ вѣ́къ и во вѣ́къ вѣ́ка.

THE ARCHANGEL MICHAEL INSCRIPTIONS

Today, thanks to a reader question, we will take a look at a 14th century icon in the Byzantine Museum, Athens.  It represents the Archangel Michael, leader of the heavenly armies.

{Byzantine Museum, Athens – St. Michael: 14th century – Photo by Giovanni Dall’Orto, Nov 12 2009)

The question asked was, what do the letters in the round mirror (depicted as a transparent sphere here) held by St. Michael mean?

Let’s look at them:

First, we need to know that the letters are Greek, which makes sense, given that it is a Byzantine icon.

The first letter — at the top — is Χ.  It stands for Χριστος — Khristos — “Christ.”
It would be easy to mistake the second letter, at left, for an Α.  But actually it is the letter Δ, which is often found written in this manner in old icons.  It stands for Δικαιος — Dikaios — meaning “Righteous.”
The third letter, at right, is Κ, for Κριτης — Krites — “Judge.”  It is related to our English words “critic” and criticism.”

All together, the letters abbreviate Χ(ριστός) Δ(ίκαιος) Κ(ριτής). — “Christ [the] Righteous Judge.”  It is an expression that recalls the words of John 7:24:

μὴ κρίνετε κατ’ ὄψιν, ἀλλὰ τὴν δικαίαν κρίσιν κρίνετε
Me krinete kat’ opsin, alla ten dikiaian krisin krinete
Not judge according-to appearance, but the rightous judgment judge
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

You may recall that  a variant of this phrase is often found as a Gospel text in Russian icons of Jesus as “Lord Almighty.”

Не на лица судите сынове человечестии, но праведен суд судите: им же бо судом судите, судят вам и в нюже меру мерите, возмерится вам.

“Judge not according to the appearance, sons of men, but judge righteous judgment.  For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged, and with what measure you measure, you shall be measured.”

There is also a title inscription on the Michael icon that we should examine.  It is divided into left and right parts:

At left:

Ὁ ΑΡΧ[ΩΝ]….
HO ARKHON
Ὁ ΜΕΓΑC
HO MEGAS

Notice how the the A and the P (R) are joined, and how the X (KH) in Arkhon is placed above, below a curved line indicating abbreviation.

At right:

…ΜΙΧΑ[Η]Λ
MIKHAEL
…ΤΑΞΙΑΡΧΗC
TAXIARKHIS

Notice that the Λ (L) in MIKHAEL is placed above the last two letters.

This title inscription is read with the first line jumping from the left to right side, as does the second, like this:

Ὁ ΑΡΧ(ΩΝ) ΜΙΧΑΗΛ Ὁ ΜΕΓΑC ΤΑΞΙΑΡΧΗC
HO ARKHON MIKHAEL HO MEGAS TAXIARKHES

“THE PRINCE MICHAEL THE GREAT COMMANDER”

That title recalls the Old Testament book of Daniel, 12:1, in the Septuagint Greek version:

Και ἐν τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ ἀναστήσεται Μιχαὴλ ὁ ἄρχων ὁ μέγας, ὁ ἑστηκὼς ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς τοῦ λαοῦ σου·
“And in that time shall stand up Michael the great prince, that stands over the sons of your people.”

Thanks to the reader who asked this question, because it helps everyone to advance a bit in the study of icons.

‘TAKE UP YOUR BED AND WALK,” VERSION TWO: TROUBLED WATERS

Yesterday we looked at an icon type in which Jesus heals a paralytic, then tells the man to take up his bed and walk.  Today we will look at another type in which that happens.  Here is an example, a 14th century ceiling fresco from Pech, Serbia:

The title inscription reads:

Х[РИСТО]С  ИСЦЕЛIИАЕТЬ РАССЛАБЛIЕННАГО
Khristos Istsyeliaet Rasslabliennago
“Christ Heals the Paralytic.”

Here is the story as found in John 5: 1-15:

“After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.   In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, [waiting for the moving of the water.  For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.]  And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he says to him, Will you be made whole?  The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steps down before me.

Jesus says to him, Rise, take up your bed, and walk.  And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

The Jews therefore said to him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.   He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said to me, Take up your bed, and walk.

Then asked they him, What man is that which said to you, Take up your bed, and walk?  And he that was healed knew not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

Afterward Jesus finds him in the temple, and said to him, Behold, you are made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come to you.

The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.”

For those of you who are interested in the manuscript history of the New Testament, the portion of the text I have put in brackets and bold type — the story of the angel troubling the waters — is missing from the earliest manuscripts.  The earliest Greek manuscript of John in which it appears is 6th century.  It is, however, included in an Old Latin 4th century version.

The tale of the angel stirring the waters of Bethesda is mentioned by Tertullian in chapter 5 of his 3rd century work On Baptism:

If it seems a novelty for an angel to be present in waters, an example of what was to come to pass has forerun. An angel, by his intervention, was wont to stir the pool at Bethsaida. They who were complaining of ill-health used to watch for him; for whoever had been the first to descend into them, after his washing, ceased to complain.

But in the same chapter, Tertullian also warns against evil spirits lurking in waters here and there:

“Are there not other cases too, in which, without any sacrament, unclean spirits brood on waters, in spurious imitation of that brooding of the Divine Spirit in the very beginning? Witness all shady founts, and all unfrequented brooks, and the ponds in the baths, and the conduits in private houses, or the cisterns and wells which are said to have the property of spiriting away, through the power, that is, of a hurtful spirit. Men whom waters have drowned or affected with madness or with fear, they call nymph-caught, or lymphatic, or hydro-phobic. Why have we adduced these instances? Lest any think it too hard for belief that a holy angel of God should grant his presence to waters, to temper them to man’s salvation; while the evil angel holds frequent profane commerce with the selfsame element to man’s ruin.”

The tale of the angel troubling the waters was also mentioned by Chrysostom and Ambrose in the 4th century.  The problem is that the various early manuscripts are rather garbled as to whether the incident is omitted entirely or given only in part.

But back to the iconography.  You will notice in the Pech fresco that the painter has carefully depicted the “five porches.” at the Pool of Bethesda, but has not shown the actual pool.  In some examples we see the pool, while in others we see water pouring into five separate small tanks, or even only one tank.  So there is considerable variation in how the image is presented, but the main elements are the figure of Jesus and the figure of healed man carrying his bed (some show him twice, first lying on his bed, then carrying it).

In the Eastern Orthodox Church calendar, the fourth Sunday after Easter is called the Неде́ля о рассла́бленном — Nedelya o rasslablennom (Greek Κυριακή τοῦ Παραλύτου) — Kyriake tou Paralytou), because on that day the liturgical reading is the story of the healing of the paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda.

“TAKE UP YOUR BED AND WALK,” VERSION ONE

In a recent posting, I gave a link for online access (also downloadable for free) to the Bolshakov Podlinnik (here it is again, if you missed it):
https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=gri.ark:/13960/t2v449g6w;view=1up;seq=1

The publisher of that manual was Sergey Tikhonovich Bolshakov (1842–1906), an Old Believer.  As I have said many times, it was the Old Believers who kept the old traditions of Russian icon painting alive long after the State Church had adopted the more realistic western European manner of painting.

Here is an old photo.  Sergey Bolshakov is the fellow with the long forked beard, second from the right:

This pattern is from the Bolshakov manual:

Those of you who are familiar with the New Testament will recognize it as the Исцеление расслабленного в Капернауме — Istselenie rasslablennogo v Kapernaume — “Healing of the Paralytic in Capernaum.”  In Greek the title means the same — Η θεραπεία του παραλυτικού της Καπερναούμ — He Therapeia tou paralytikou tes Kapernaoum.

It is the story found in Mark 2: 1-12:

And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house   And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word to them.

And they come to him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.  And when they could not come nigh to him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, your sins be forgiven you.

But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,   Why does this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?  And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said to them, Why reason you these things in your hearts?  Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Your sins be forgiven you; or to say, Arise, and take up your bed, and walk?  But that you may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins, (he says to the sick of the palsy,)  I say to you, Arise, and take up your bed, and go your way into your house.

And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.

Do not confuse this type with that of the man healed of paralysis at the Pool of Bethesda — the story given in John 5:1-15.  In each tale, a healed man is told to take up his bed and walk.

 

 

WEDDING AND TEMPTATION

Today we will look at a fresco painted in 1527 at the Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas, at Meteora in Greece.  Here is an image:

We can see its positioning here, on the upper right-hand wall:

Perhaps you recognize some of the other large images.  To the left of the doorway, we see the “second entry” into Paradise, with Peter at the door, and the Repentant Thief inside, and a soul sitting in the “bosom of Abraham” in the Paradise Garden.  Above the doorway and to its right is a large image of the “Terrible Judgment” — the “Last Judgment.”  But we want to consider the smaller image on the upper left side of the right-hand wall.

Perhaps you have already recognized the depiction.  It is identified by the title inscription at the top:

It reads:

ὉΕΝΚΑ
ΝΑΓΑΜΟC

As is common in Greek inscriptions, the words run together.  We can separate them as:

Ὁ ΕΝ ΚΑΝΑ ΓΑΜΟC

Ho en Kana Gamos
“The in Cana Marriage”

In normal English,
“The Wedding at Cana.”

It depicts the incident recorded in the Gospel called “of John,” 2:1-11:

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:   And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.  And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus says to him, They have no wine.  Jesus says to her, Woman, what have I to do with you? My hour is not yet come.

His mother says to the servants, Whatever he says to you, do it.  And there were set there six water pots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.

Jesus says to them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.  And he says to them, Draw out now, and take it to the governor of the feast. And they took it.

When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not from where it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and says to him, Every man at the beginning does set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but you have kept the good wine until now.

This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

At left we see Jesus and Mary, identified by their usual inscriptions (abbreviated here) — Meter Theou (“Mother of God”) for Mary, and Iesous Khristos for Jesus, who has the cross in his halo.

To their right, we see a servant filling a jug with the water that is to be miraculously made into wine:

So that is the basic image.  But what is going on at the right side?

The painter has blended the edge of one event into another.  The scene at right is actually a part of a larger type depicting the “Temptation of Jesus” in the wilderness, which chronologically happens right after his baptism by John.

The Gospel called “of Mark” (1:12-13) tells us bluntly and briefly:

And immediately the spirit drives him into the wilderness.  And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him.

The Greek text says literally,
Καὶ εὐθὺς τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτὸν ἐκβάλλει εἰς τὴν ἔρημον.
“And immediately the Spirit casts him out (ekballei) into the wilderness.”  Ekballei is the same term used for the casting out of demons.

Luke and Matthew, however, embroider the event considerably, and that is what we see in this depiction.  Here is Matthew’s account covering the portions we see in the fresco (the second we see only in part):

Matthew 4:1-7:

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward hungry.

3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If you are the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.”

That is what we see here:  the Devil is telling Jesus to turn the stones into bread:

4 “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

Then the devil takes him up into the holy city, and sets him on a pinnacle of the temple,

And says to him, If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning you: and in their hands they shall bear you up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone.

Jesus said uto him, It is written again, You shalt not tempt the Lord your God.”

The portion of the image we can see, however, shows only the Devil pointing to the ground.  Jesus is out of the image and to the right, standing higher up on the Jerusalem temple.

You may recall that according to the biblical story, the Devil also tempted Jesus by taking him to a high mountain and offering to give him all the kingdoms of the world.  We find that in the continued Matthew account:

Again, the devil takes him up into an exceeding high mountain, and shows him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

And says to him, All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me.

10 Then says Jesus to him, Get you away, Satan: for it is written, You shalt worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.

In this Russian example of the “Temptation,” (a kleimo (“border image”) from an icon of “The Lord Almighty” enthroned, painted in 1682), we see all three of the temptations:

The large image in the foreground shows the Devil (note the tail!) tempting Jesus to make stones into bread.  At upper right, he takes Jesus to a pinnacle of the Temple and tells him to cast himself down so angels may save him.  And at upper left, he takes him to a high mountain, and shows him all the kingdoms of the world.

Take a close look at the name abbreviation by the head of Jesus in the foreground:

It appears to read IИС ХС for  IИСУС ХРИСТОС.  That extra И in the name of Jesus — making it Iisus Khristos — is the reformed spelling used by the State Church after the Old Believers split off from the State Church   The Old Believers continued to spell the name of Jesus Isus, while the State Church added another letter, making it Iisus.  Oddly, however, the background images of Jesus in this example still have the old IC XC form.