Communion of Incorruption: A Theology of Icons and Relics
This dissertation contributes to contemporary scholarship on the historical and theological significance of Christian iconodulia—the appropriate veneration of holy persons, places, and things. By accentuating the economic aspect of the Byzantine image debates it illustrates how the concerns raised by those defending the holy images in the eighth and ninth centuries proved to be precisely the issues that would accompany the resurgence of Christian iconoclasm in the Protestant Reformation. What should be clearer from the standpoint of this study is that debates concerning the legitimacy of the production and veneration of holy images touch on the fundamental claims of the Christian faith as at the heart of the theological defense is the mystery of God-made-man and the implications of this mystery for how God continues to seek union through his own body, that is, in the sacrifice of the Eucharist and in the Church itself. Attending closely to the economic aspect of the theological defense of iconodulia, we can see that the “economic appropriation” of the incarnation funds theological claims about the ontological stability, or unicity, of the Church. That is to say, to speak about the history and theology of iconodulia in the Christian tradition one must acknowledge the ecclesiological claims inherent to the orthodox defense. Therefore, this dissertation also contributes to contemporary ecumenical discussions and challenges some of the presumptions at the heart of that discussion.
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