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The Angel of the Countenance of God

The Angel of the Countenance of God

Theology and Iconology of Theophanies

By Vladislav Andrejev

328 pp

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About the Book

Iconography is the study of the history, practice, and symbolism of painted Christian images. Iconology probes deeper still, into the “icon” of Divine Presence in the inner man, who is himself made “in the image [eikón] of God” (Gen 1:26), as the place where Wisdom seeks to make her home. Written by an iconographer with forty years’ experience researching the nature and mission of the icon, The Angel of the Countenance of God explores the biblical epiphanies of God—their translation into images, their mythological parallels, and their Trinitarian and Christological implications. Drawing on his own icon-writing, V. L. Andrejev here focuses on the biblical theme of the “Angel of Jehovah,” distinguishing the “created Angels” of the Heavenly Hierarchies from this “uncreated Angel” of Theophany, that divine Being Moses beheld in the flames of the Burning Bush, and Christian tradition depicts as the royal maiden Sophia, personification of the Wisdom of God. This distinction carries profound consequences for iconography, dogmatic theology, and discipleship.

The icon written on a board is the “spoken” word made visual, but its final significance lies within each person. For it is man himself, as the living icon of the Image of God, who by means of the immaterial, essential Light of God makes visible in icons the “actions” of God. Icon-writing is “symbolic realism,” and though not able to depict God, is able to depict the image of His actions. The fulfillment of the icon, the image of God, is love—the love uniting Bride and Bridegroom in the Song of Songs; that same love hymned by St Symeon the New Theologian and St Maximus the Confessor.

The Angel of the Countenance of God will be of value to all who have an interest in iconography, Trinitarian Christology, Sophiology, and Eastern Christianity.

About the Author

VLADISLAV L. ANDREJEV was born in St. Petersburg in 1938. After advanced studies in art, his desire to penetrate its true purpose led him on a spiritual journey. During the 1960s he visited remote corners of Russia and Middle Asia in search of spiritual guidance, both at monasteries and at the feet of persecuted hermits—experiences that confirmed for him the inseparability of art and religion. When by 1979 it had become impossible for Andrejev to remain within the framework of the atheistic Soviet regime, he and his family emigrated, first briefly to Europe, then to the United States, where Andrejev could freely express religious ideas in his art and continue his studies of Byzantine and Russian iconography, dogmatic theology, and Church tradition. From 1982 to 1992 he taught Russian Byzantine iconography at the School of Sacred Arts in New York City. After receiving the blessing of Archbishop Peter of the Orthodox Church of America, he founded his school of iconography and iconology, Prosopon, where he continues to teach, sometimes taking private commissions, exhibiting his works, and speaking at international religious art conferences.

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