Patriarch, monk and empress :a Byzantine debate over icons
The roots of the Byzantine debate over icons can be traced back to the Christian Church’s very inception. Indeed, an underlying current of iconoclasm manifested itself repeatedly over the centuries but did not erupt into a large-scale controversy until the eighth century. The timing of this outbreak, however, is significant for it followed four hundred years of intense debate over the person and nature of Christ. Consequently, by the end of the seventh century icons began to be associated with the incarnation of Christ and by the end of the eighth century the icon had become intimately connected to the Christological controversies. Hence, in addition to providing a general knowledge of the chronology and key characters of the controversy, this thesis will explore the theological development of the first phase of the debate, particularly as it related to the Christological controversies. A summary of the major historiographical theories promulgated to explain the Byzantine iconoclastic controversy will be followed by an overview of the development of Christian art. Then, after a brief chronological summary of the debate, the focus will shift to three pivotal individuals: Patriarch Germanus, Monk John Damascene, and Empress Irene. By exploring their contributions, both to the Christological dimensions of the debate and to the restoration of icons in the Byzantine Empire, the contours of the controversy over icons will come into focus. Finally, a brief comparison between the Emperor Charlemagne and the Monk Theodore Abu Qurrah will demonstrate the divergence of views taken toward the icon by the East and West following the Seventh Ecumenical Council (787 CE).
Thesis (M.A.)--Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of History.