Today we will look at a 16th century dome image from the Dionysiou Monastery on Mt. Athos:
It depicts Jesus as an Emmanuel figure “in glory,” surrounded by the symbols of the Four Evangelists and a couple of seraphim.
What I want to focus on, however, is the text on the book he holds. Usually in icons of Jesus we find a Gospel text. This one is different. Here is a closer look:
And now let’s look at the Greek text he holds.
Here it is as it appears on each page:
ΔΕΤΕ, ὉΤΙ Ε-
ΓΟ ΕΙΜΙ Κ[ΑΙ]
ΟΥΚ ΕCΤΙ Θ[ΕΟ]C
ἴδετε ἴδετε ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι, καὶ οὐκ ἔστι Θεὸς πλὴν ἐμοῦ· ἐγὼ ἀποκτενῶ καὶ ζῆν ποιήσω
Idete idete, hoti ego eimi, kai ouk esti Theos plen emou. Ego apokteno kai zen
“Behold, behold, that I am, and not is God except me. I kill and to-live
In more normal English,
“See, See that I am, and there is no God except me. I kill and make alive.”
Having translated it, we can see that it is the Septuagint Greek text of Deuteronomy 32:39, from the Old Testament. So this text is representing Jesus both as Emmanuel and as the God of the Old Testament.
If you have been paying attention to all my postings on reading Greek icon inscriptions, you will recognize the abbreviation for kai — meaning “and”; it is a K with a stroke across the base of the letter:
You will also recognize the ligature joining the letters C and T (s and t) in Greek:
And finally, you will recognize the very common abbreviation ΘC for Theos — “God.”