In the previous posting we saw an icon of Luke accompanied by the “Wisdom of God,” a manifestation of Jesus. Today we will look at an interesting 19th century icon containing two images of manifestations of Jesus (in Eastern Orthodox belief).
At upper left is Isus Blagoe Molchanie — “Jesus the Blessed Silence.” This, you will recall (I hope) is Jesus represented as the “Angel of Great Counsel” from the Old Testament. You will find more information on that angel in the site archives (search box at right). We can tell this is an Old Believer icon, not only because images of the Blagoe Molchanie are popular among Old Believers, but also because the spelling of the name of Jesus is in the Old Believer form, not the “revised” State church form. As we saw with the “Wisdom of God” in the icon of Luke as Evangelist, this angel has the “eight-pointed glory” halo signifying divinity.
At top right is Sophia Premudrost Slovo Bozhie — “Sophia, Wisdom, Word of God.” And that, as you know, is another representation of Jesus in Angel form. In 1 Corinthians 1:24 we find Χριστὸν θεοῦ δύναμιν καὶ θεοῦ σοφίαν — Khriston theou dynamin kai theou sophian — “Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God.” Here Sophia (Greek for “Wisdom”) wears the robes of a bishop, and with Mary approaching at left and John the Forerunner at right, this forms a variant of the Deisis type. John’s blessing hand forms the sign used by the Old Believers. Jesus in his usual form is just above his other manifestation as Sophia, and above that is the “throne” — the altar table readied for judgment, as angels approach from both sides with their hands covered with cloths, as a sign of reverence.
Note that in both the “Blessed Silence” and “Sophia” types here, the faces are red — signifying spiritual “fire,” the energy of divinity.
(Private Collection, Germany)
The lower two images are the “Iveron Most Holy Mother of God,” whose origin story you will find in the archives>
And last, another image very popular among Old Believers, the “Fiery Ascension of the Holy Prophet Elijah.” At the bottom we see Elijah in the wilderness fed by a raven, and in smaller figures at right Elijah and his disciple Elisha. At the top of the icon is Elijah going up to Heaven in a fiery chariot, as he drops his mantle down to Elisha.
Further and more detailed explanations of all these types are found in the site archives. As I have mentioned before, if you read the archives from the beginning and learn what is presented there thoroughly, you will become something of an expert on icon identification, which will enable you to bore your friends endlessly.