Today we will look at another icon of the Resurrection of Lazarus, illustrating the biblical tale found (surprisingly) only in the gospel called “Of John,” that gospel which is so significantly different from the other three in many respects, even presenting Jesus in a very different light and recounting supposed events in the life of Jesus not mentioned in those attributed by tradition to Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
One of these events is of course the Resurrection of Lazarus of Bethany. It has long been noted by students of the Bible how odd it is that a story of resurrection from the dead would be ignored in the other three canonical gospels. But in any case, its presence in John made it a significant part of Eastern Orthodox tradition, and in the Church calendar Lazarus Saturday –which commemorates the raising of Lazarus — marks the end of Lent and the beginning of the Easter (Paschal) cycle. It is called Лазарева Суббота — Lazareva Subbota — in Russian, and in Greek Το Σάββατο του Λαζάρου (To Sabbato tou Lazarou).
Today, however, we will focus not on the story and the later (and contradictory) traditions associated with Lazarus, but rather simply on the title inscription, which gives a good review of some basic Church Slavic words that every student of icons should know well.
First, here is the icon — from its style obviously a late example, and well painted:
(Courtesy of Jacksonsauction.com)
And here is the title inscription. It begins with these words:
ѠБРАЗ ВОСКРЕСЕНIЕ …
OBRAZ VOSKRESENIE …
IMAGE [of the] RESURRECTION …
So Obraz means “image.”
Voskresenie means “resurrection”
And the words “of the” are understood here, even though not actually written.
And here is the second part:
[of] RIGHTEOUS LAZARUS
You have seen the word ПРАВЕДНЫЙ/PRAVEDNUIY, meaning “Righteous” before. Here is is used in its masculine “of” form. So we read it as:
PRAVEDNAGO — “[of the] Righteous.”
And last comes the name ЛАЗАРЬ/LAZAR’ — “LAZARUS.” But here it too is in the “of” form ЛАЗАРЯ/LAZARYA, reflecting the “of” ending of PRAVEDNAGO.
So all together, it is:
ѠБРАЗ ВОСКРЕСЕНIЕ ПРАВЕДНАГО ЛАЗАРЯ
OBRAZ VOSCRESENIE PRAVEDNAGO LAZARYA
“IMAGE OF THE RESURRECTION OF RIGHTEOUS LAZARUS”
At left we see Jesus commanding Lazarus to come forth from the tomb. Beside him are the Apostles Peter and Paul, and behind them Apostles Simon, Andrew, and Matthew. The rest are shown only as halos without name titles. In the background we see the standard stylized “hills and palaces” found in traditional iconography.
Before Jesus Mary and Martha of Bethany kneel:
You should by now (if you have read the previous postings) be able to translate their name inscriptions as SVYATAYA MARFA — “Holy Martha” and SVYATAYA MARIYA — “Holy Mary.”
And at right we see the resurrected Lazarus still in his grave wrappings, coming out of the tomb:
Again, if you have been following all the earlier postings here, you should be able to easily read the name inscription in his halo as SVYATUIY PRAVEDNUIY LAZAR’ — “Holy Righeous Lazarus.”