Sunday, June 5, 2011

Things Every Orthodox Should Know

I wrote a lengthy article months ago and kept submitting to the church newsletter for inclusion but it was always "lost" or forgotten. After so long,  I got the message I guess. So....I decided to share the information in pieces here, on my own blog.   I still think the information is relevant to the church.  

Why do icons look like they do? 

Icons represent the spiritual perfection of the person they portray. They are purposely unnatural looking and austere. They do not smile and have exaggerated features while the colors are specifically chosen and look the same from painter to painter. The Theotokos usually wears a red maphorian with 3 stars ( virgin before, during and after birth) over  a blue tunic. Blue represents humanity and red, divinity. She has had divinity put upon her by being the vessel chosen by God to carry the Word. Christ is the opposite, wearing a blue robe over a red tunic. His humanity was  put upon him by being born human.  Christ’s right hand is in a blessing that represents his name in Greek IC XC formed by his fingers. 


   What do all those letters mean?
On all icons there are inscriptions in the language of origin usually in abbreviated formats. Some iconographers use their “artistic” license to make the abbreviations and make it difficult for even the most seasoned linguist to interpret.  IC XC meaning Jesus Christ in Greek. IHCOYC XPICTOC   the letter “C” in this case is the letter Sigma in Greek.  The first and last letter is used, usually with a line or squiggle across the top to show it is an abbreviation.
On icons of the Mother Of God the letters MP OV ( Mu Rho Theta Upsilon) means  Mētēr Theou or Mother of God.
In the Halo of the Savior you will see:  “omicron”,  “omega”, and “ nu”. These letters mean “I Am” or “I Exist”.  
Ichthys can be read as an acrostic, a word formed from the first letters of several words. It compiles to "Jesus Christ, God's son, savior," in ancient Greek "ησος Χριστός, Θεο ͑Υιός, Σωτήρ", Iēsous Christos, Theou Huios, Sōtēr.
·         Iota (i) is the first letter of Iēsous (ησος), Greek for "Jesus".
·         Chi (ch) is the first letter of Christos (Χριστς), Greek for "anointed".
·         Theta (th) is the first letter of Theou (Θεο), Greek for "God's", the genitive case of Θεóς, Theos, Greek for "God".
·         Upsilon (u) is the first letter of uiosἱὸς), Greek for "Son".
·         Sigma (s) is the first letter of sōtēr (Σωτήρ), Greek for "Savior".
Historians say the 20th-century use of the ichthys motif is an adaptation based on an Early Christian symbol which included a small cross for the eye or the Greek letters "ΙΧΘΥΣ".

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