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16. The Prohibition Of Images And Protestant Identity

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Chapter Summary

The Reformation iconoclasm was not a monolithic phenomenon, nor simply a philistine movement of religious vandalism. It was a multi-dimensional phenomenon with an enormous religious, political and social impact. It was motivated by different modes of thinking about the category of the image and the notion of visualization, reflection and representation of the divine. The image controversy must be recognized as one of the elements of 'the self-affirmation' of the Protestant movement. This observation should not lead us to the conclusion that Protestant worship focused on Holy Scripture and sermons excluded all visual dimensions in its spirituality. It could be argued that the widely accepted view that Reformation faith became exclusively 'verbal' and 'aural'. In early modern times the Protestant 'image-breakers' became, in their turn, 'image-makers'. They replaced the old medieval world of symbols and rituals by their own symbolic and ritual language in which some the old traditions reappeared.

Keywords: Holy Scripture; iconoclasm; image controversy; Protestant movement; religious vandalism; sermons; visualization



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