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The Synodikon Of Orthodoxy And The Ground Of Painting

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses upon a series of theoretical texts that attempted to police one's perception of the icon by defining competing interpretations of the play of the painted image in eleventh-century Byzantium. The Synodikon achieved its first definitive form in the late-ninth century. Beginning in the mid-eleventh century and then increasingly during the Komnenian era (1081-1185), the document received a series of additions. The Synodikon of Orthodoxy helped to define the precise terms by which the painting of a sacred subject could convey the truth. It presented the icon as an embodiment of human knowledge. As a made thing, detached from its subject, the icon was understood to encompass that which was possible for human understanding. As such knowledge was built upon the visible, a point re-asserted by the condescension of the incarnation itself, and therefore the icon had to become the primary space for the description of human understanding.

Keywords: eleventh-century Byzantium; icon; painting; Synodikon of Orthodoxy



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