Ο Χριστός ως η Θεία Σοφία : Η εικονογραφική περιπέτεια μιας θεολογικής έννοιαςPart of : Δελτίον της Χριστιανικής Αρχαιολογικής Εταιρείας ; Vol.33, 1991, pages 119-144
Christ as the Holy Wisdom : The Iconographical Fortunes of a Theological Notion
1. Two reliefs from the Thermes Museum, cat. nos.67.507 and 67.506 (Figs 1 and 3), bear representations ofthe Miracles of Christ, the main depictions being theSermon on the Mount and the Feeding of the Multitude.These express the Pauline doctrine that Christ is theHoly Wisdom and the Holy Power (I Cor. 1, 23-30).The figure of Christ in the Sermon of the Mount (Fig. 2)recreates the iconographical Zeus type with unattractivefeatures. He is rendered neither as a cynic philosophernor as Asklepios (Fig. 4). Neither is the female figure toChrist's right meant to be a Muse, on the analogy of theAsklepios - Hygeia model. On the other hand, the depiction refers back to the meaning of wisdom, more particularly to Socrates in his dialogue with Diotima (Fig. 5),the female figure being an allegory for the interpretationof Christ as the Holy Wisdom. In an approximatelysimilar manner, the motif of the philosopher with hispupils in the Via Latina catacomb (Fig. 7), which isiconologically related to Christ amongst the leading disciples (Fig. 6), is allegorised in Christ's granting thepower of raising the dead to the apostles (Matt. 10, 1and 8). The theological teaching behind the iconographical subjects of the two Thermes reliefs (1 and 2) canalso be discerned in the Capitol sarcophagus no. 70(Fig. 8). The allegorical image of Christ as a philosopheror teacher, with the characteristic adlocution gesture,renders the concept of Christ as the Logos of God, whilethe female figure next to Him expresses the meaning ofChrist as the Wisdom of God with the same gesture (cf.Origen, Commentary on St. Matthew 10, ii: "The epiphany of the presence of Christ becomes manifest in theWisdom and Logos"). A touch stone for this conceptwas that "concerning the man blessed by the Graces".2. The female figure in the illuminations of the Codexpurp. gr. Rossan. f. 121 (Fig. 9) is given as a personification of the Holy Wisdom of Christ. The motif of theinspiring Muse survived as the Holy Ghost inspiratingEvangelists, and in aristocratic art, as in the Paris, cod.gr. 139, f. 7v (Fig. 10), and the Vat. cod. urb. gr. 2, f. 19v(Fig. 11). In the Byzantine east, the concept of Christ asthe Holy Wisdom is depicted, within theological references to Old Testament Christological préfigurations,by the figure of an angel (the Karmuz catacomb wallpainting in Alexandria, for example). At the same time,the Christological image (Prov. 9, 1-6) concerning theHouse of Wisdom with the seven columns served as amodel for the compositions depicting Biblical figureswith a personification of the Church, for example in thePar. cod. syr. 341, f. 118 (Fig. 12) and the wall-paintingsof the Drosiani church on Naxos (Figs 13-15), whichappear within a soteriological context, namely that theconcept of Christ as the Holy Wisdom is refined here tosymbolise salvation through the Church.3. In late-Byzantine art, the concept of Christ as theHoly Wisdom is formulated with the depiction of thePresentation of Christ at the age of twelve in the Temple(Luke 2, 40-47, the Gospel passage of the Circumcisionof Christ celebrated on the 1st of January), which, whileinitially an open composition, loses its narrative quality,as in the illumination in the Paris, gr. 510, f. 1610 (Fig.16), and is transformed into a closed composition in adevotional icon of the Feast of the Circumcision, as inthe miniature in the Athos Dionysiou cod. 787, f. 135r(Fig. 17). This change contributed to the formation ofthe devotional icon of the Feast of Mid-Pentecost(John, 7, 14-30). This scene is similar to the eulogy onChrist as the Holy Wisdom given in Luke 2, 40-47, andto Prov. 9, 1 ff. (one of the readings of the feast day), aswell as reflecting the inspiration for hymns sung on thesame occasion. Iconographically, it is similar to thecomposition of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, although Christ is now bearded. In the miniatureillumination of Mid-Pentecost in a Georgian manuscript in the Library of the Academy of Tbilisi (cod.A-648, f. 45v), Christ is shown as Emmanuel, beardlessand upon a sphere (Fig. 18). A similar process is discernable here, although we now see the theological interpretation superceding the narrative function. Thus, thebeardless and bearded Christ type can be seen to mergein these two initially narrative depictions. In late-Byzantine times, the theological concept of the Holy Wisdomis accentuated in the Presentation scene with an iconographie suggestion of Prov. 9, 1-6, namely the sevencolumned structure which serves as an architectural background (Fig. 19). The narrative historical details(Luke 2,40-47) are totally subordinated to the theological and more general spiritual associations drawn fromthe theological allegory in Prov. 9, 1-16, with ChristWisdom shown as an angel type (cf. Fig. 3), the Angel ofGreat Counsel (Figs 20 and 21).4. In churches dedicated to Christ as the Holy Wisdom,which is not given a feast day in the ecclesiastical calendar, the Christ Pantocrator is simply represented onthe church's dedicatory icon (Fig. 22). Hagia Sophia,honoured as the mother of the child martyrs Faith,Hope and Charity (Pistis, Elpis, and Agape) was createdby a distorted interpretation of the Pauline text I Cor.13, 3 whose correct iconographical interpretation is given in a miniature in the Sinai gr. cod. 418, f. 283r (Fig.23).