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In Defense of Icons

A seminar discussing On the Divine Images by John of Damascus and the role of art in Christian worship.

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In Defense of Icons
In Defense of Icons

Time & Location

Jun 29, 2022, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM PDT

Zephyr Institute, 560 College Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306, USA

About the Event

Can images help us achieve a closer relationship with the divine? Or are they distractions from right worship that lead us toward idolatry, the worship of false gods? This issue has divided modern and ancient Christians, perhaps most fiercely during the Iconoclast Controversy of the Byzantine Empire. In the eighth century, as the Byzantine Emperors became hostile to the production, display, and veneration of holy images, St. John of Damascus became the foremost defender of icons. He wrote three treatises On the Divine Images, which address the nature of sacred portraits, why they are venerated, and how iconoclasts misinterpret scripture. In this seminar, we will read the first of St. John’s treatises to discover how philosophy and theology inform the role art, icons, and images play in Christian life.

This seminar will be led by Sebastian Hayden. We will use the St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press edition of On the Divine Images. Copies are available upon request. Please read pages 19-39, 57-58 (beginning and end of Treatise I). Dinner will be provided by the Zephyr Institute.

Sebastian Hayden is a junior in Princeton University’s Philosophy Department. He studies ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, as well as Christian philosophy and theology. He is a James Madison Program Undergraduate Fellow and a 2022 summer intern at the Zephyr Institute.

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