Week 5 Jackie Hazlett

I believe with no doubt that iconoclasm is, and will likely be a repeating theme through history. Iconoclasm defined as the importance of destruction or removal of images for political or religious reasoning. I think the first account of this is the initial persecution of the Jews. As slaves to the Egyptians, I can only imagine the limitation in worship. If the firstborn sons are being murdered out of fear of overthrowing Pharaoh, then icons and images that unify one another in faith would be an automatic “no” from me if I were Pharaoh. As history progresses and the Jews through building the temple, being thrown and diaspora, then rebuilding the temple again, I see a consistent theme of the value in icons. The development of the idea that “if we have no temple, but we ought to worship.” must have sparked a fair amount of creativity. When Christianity split off from Judaism, they were saying “yes” to persecution. Church’s for years were kept at a whisper in people’s homes.

Under the rule of Constantine, we see Christianity flourish. With the signing of the Edict of Milan, Christianity soon became the religion of the Roman Empire. House Churches quickly developed into massive places of worship. Icons could, and would be publically displayed everywhere. The Byzantine Era soon developed and Christian art was plastered on the walls everywhere–literally.

For example, the sarcophagus in the Church of S. Maria Antiqua in Rome. This is a high relief sculpture, not full in the round, made of marble. The piece itself is made up of Old Testament icons that point to the work of Christ. In a way, this is a metaphorical focal point. While it is hard to find a physical focal point throughout the sculpture, it is more linear, meant to be read and traveled through like a book, as it tells a story. The undercuts of the relief create a strong contrast and emphasizes the use of detail in the craft. There are two main linear focuses throughout the piece. One of the branches of the tree all point up, and the second as the people and the structures point horizontal, as a progression. The piece overall is enticing. It draws the viewer into its detail and story.


Sarcophagus S. Maria Antiqua in Rome Source

Taking a few steps further in history, The Church would meet another great split in the 1500s as Martin Luther would reform the Protestant Church and throw all of the Christian art out with Catholicism.

Talk about complete iconoclasm!

 Today, I believe that it is time to reintroduce art into the church. I see art as a form of connection and worship between crafter and God, but also as a way to connect and unify the people of the church. It is a form of rest, conviction, discipline, humility, and discipleship. Not that images should be worshipped, but more so the process be a form of worship.

3 thoughts on “Week 5 Jackie Hazlett”

  1. Jackie I love that you talked about iconoclasm throughout history. Do you think there is any form of iconoclasm in our society today? I think we have a pretty free society to be creative and create images of whatever we choose. Some cultures do not have that luxury like the ones you mentioned above. I also agree that art has lots some of its prominence in the church. Art can be a form of worship and I think the church today settles on a couple forms of worship such as song, prayer, and sermon. It can be frustrating to not have more forms of worship within the church. I really enjoyed reading your post!


  2. Learning about Iconoclasm, you mentioned that it might be a repeating theme? What types of iconoclasm do you think there will be in the future?

    I think you chose an interesting piece of artwork to look at. When I think of Byzantine art, I think of the mosaics. The sculpture doesn’t have a focal point like most other artworks do. This piece tells a complete story as there are many things going on. There is a figure that seems to be baptized/in water(?). That also contrasts the mood from the right side of the sculpture.


  3. I agree that it would be a wonderful thing to reintroduce art into the churches! People associate paintings of Christ and other holy images with time periods hundreds of years ago, but how cool would it be if we created some modern day art for the church to start a new idea! I think it would be a great way to worship because like singing, painting/drawing/sculpting/making art creates an intimate energy that can be poured towards the Lord. I love thinking about it and hope it becomes a new trend. Great post!


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