The icons: Theological and spiritual dimensions according to St. Theodore of Studion

Theodor Damian, Fordham University


The present dissertation studies St. Theodore of Studion's theology of icon as he elaborated it in the context of the iconoclastic controversy of his time. The problem is introduced first against the background of the Christological debate of the fifth and sixth centuries, where the Alexandrian and Byzantine Chalcedonian Christologies are discussed; the Christology is also presented through representatives such as the Emperor Justinian, Leontius of Byzantium, Leontius of Jerusalem and John of Damascus. Secondly, St. Theodore's theology of icon is introduced through the analysis of the tradition of icons before the iconoclastic period and of the causes that led to Iconoclasm, followed by the life of Theodore. In Chapter III, the biblical aspect of the controversy is discussed as it appears in St. Theodore's works; more precisely, I present Theodore's interpretation of the Old Testament commandment that prohibits the images, the relation between image and prototype, Christ's circumscribability and its relation to the theology of icon, and the legitimacy of icon's veneration, all based on biblical arguments. In Chapter IV, the same ideas are analyzed, but in the context of the patristic tradition, and in Chapter V, the problem of Christ's circumscription as a basis for the veneration of icon is discussed theologically, first, based on the concept of the hypostatic union of the two natures in Christ, and second, in the context of the relationship between image and prototype and between hypostasis and image. The last chapter develops the spirituality of icon and its Christocentric character as the main dimension of the entire discussion about the veneration of icons as it appears in St. Theodore's works. The dissertation concludes by suggesting some ways in which St. Theodore's theology of icon can be relevant and significant for us today.

Subject Area

Theater|Middle Ages|Religious history|Literature|Middle Ages

Recommended Citation

Damian, Theodor, "The icons: Theological and spiritual dimensions according to St. Theodore of Studion" (1993). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9324610.