L’autorevole sito orthodoxinfo.com ha pubblicato, di recente, una serie di domande che frequentemente vengono rivolte da chi si accosta alle icone e a questa particolare forma di arte sacra, che riconduce alle sorgenti della cristianità. Riproponiamo tre di questi argomenti – Che cos’è un’icona? I cristiani pregano le icone? Le icone compiono miracoli? – agli amici del nostro spazio web. Domande e risposte sono in lingua inglese.


But considering the violent opposition which Jews had to images how could the early Christians have accepted Icons?

Not only does one find Iconography throughout Christian Catacombs, but they are also found in Jewish catacombs of the same period. We also have the well preserved Jewish Icons of Dura-Europos, which were in a city destroyed by the Persians in the mid 3rd century (which of course puts a limit on how recent these Icons could have been made). Often Josephus’ views on Iconography are erroneously taken as the standard Jewish view on the subject, but this is clearly not the case. The specific text usually cited is the one referring to a riot which took place when the Romans placed an imperial eagle on the gate of the Temple. This story is not so open and shut as some would like to think. These were zealots. Josephus, who was also a rebel, though one who switched sides and later aided the Romans, records these events.

Josephus records that the Romans mounted an eagle over the entrance to the Temple, which the people tore down as sacrilegious—but was it images of beasts per se that were at issue, or was it Roman eagles on the Entrance to the Temple that were the issue. Josephus’ views were so extreme on this subject that he thought the statues of animals in connection with the Brazen Sea in Solomon’s Temple were a sin (Antiquities VIII,7,5). The over all attitude of Jews towards religious art was not nearly so Iconoclastic. The Palestinian Talmud records (in Abodah Zarah 48d) “In the days of Rabbi Jochanan men began to paint pictures on the walls, and he did not hinder them” and “In the days of Rabbi Abbun men began to make designs on mosaics, and he did not hinder them.” Also, the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan repeats the command against idols, but then says “but a stone column carved with images and likenesses you may make upon the premises of your sanctuaries, but not to worship them.” Also, Jewish holy books have been illustrated as far back as we have them. They contain illustrations of Biblical scenes, much like those found at the Synagogue of Dura Europos (and like the Church found near by) which was buried in the mid 3rd century when the Persians destroyed that city (See “The excavations at Dura-Europos conducted by Yale University and the French Academy of Inscriptions and Letters,” Final Report VII, Part I, The Synagogue, by Carl H. Kraeling). It is note worthy that the earliest Icons of the Catacombs were mostly Old Testament scenes, and Icons of Christ. The dominance of Old Testament scenes shows that this was not a Pagan practices Christianized by converts, but a Jewish practice, adopted by the Christians.