NR. 4 – 2009

Rezumate Studii Teologice 2009.4

Lucreția VASILESCU — Marian Icons in Orthodox Worship on Romanian Land

Rezumat: Maica Domnului în iconografia românească

Iconografia bizantină este o artă prin excelență teologică; pentru Biserica Ortodoxă imaginea este, întocmai ca și cuvântul, un limbaj ce exprimă dogmele și învățăturile sale. Învățătura de credință este transpusă în icoană și dezvăluită cu ajutorul culorilor. Fereastră a măreției și luminii Împărăției lui Dumnezeu, icoana deschide realitatea transcendentă în fața ochilor credinței și evlaviei credinciosului și mijlocește întâlnirea tainică și reală a acestuia cu persoana sfântă.

Iconografia Maicii Domnului este rodul reflecției Bisericii asupra tainei Fecioarei, Maica lui Dumnezeu, și a planului divin pentru neamul omenesc. A fost aleasă să fie Născătoarea Fiului lui Dumnezeu – Theotokos, devenind, alături de Iisus Hristos, o figură centrală în istoria mântuirii neamului omenesc. În Biserica Ortodoxă Română, Maica Domnului s-a bucurat și se bucură de o aleasă cinstire, o dovadă fiind numărul impresionant de icoane care o reprezintă, aparținând tuturor tipurilor cunoscute de iconografia bizantină. Multe dintre aceste icoane sunt făcătoare de minuni.

În studiul al cărui conținut încercăm a-l rezuma sunt prezentate câteva icoane ale Maicii Domnului realizate în diferite epoci ale iconografiei românești, reflectare a vieții spirituale a epocilor respective, expresie a evlaviei credincioșilor, a măiestriei iconarilor, cel mai adesea anonimi, și a unității de credință a ortodoxiei. Sunt analizate sumar icoanele Maicii Domnului de la Mănăstirea Neamț și Maica Domnului cu Pruncul de la Mănăstirea Govora, aparținând tipului Hodegetria („Cea care arată calea”, „Îndrumătoarea”), temă frecventă în iconografia ortodoxă românească; icoana Fecioarei cu Pruncul–Eleousa („Mângâietoarea“, „tandrețea maternă”) de la biserica din Ruda-Bârsești (com. Bercioiu, jud. Vâlcea), capodoperă a picturii medievale românești din sec. al XVII-lea; cea a Fecioarei cu Pruncul–Glykophilousa („Dulcea sărutare”) de la Mănăstirea Snagov; icoana Maica Domnului cu Pruncul de la Mănăstirea Dintr-un lemn (jud. Vâlcea), unică în România prin iconografie, tipologie și stil; cea a Maicii Domnului cu Pruncul, Protectoarea, aflată în prezent la Muzeul de Artă al României, icoană monumentală în stilul brâncovenesc de la începutul sec. al XVIII-lea; icoana făcătoare de minuni de la Mănăstirea Nicula; icoanele Maica Domnului cu Pruncul din biserica Mănăstirii Pângărați (jud. Neamț) și cea a Maicii Domnului de la Mănăstirea Bistrița, ambele aparținând tipului Nikopoia („Aducătoare de victorie”); tripticul Deisis de la Mănăstirea Putna, o capodoperă din sec. al XV-lea; icoana Sfântul Ioan Botezătorul și Maica Domnului cu Pruncul din biserica din Domnești, o compoziție neobișnuită, impresionantă prin monumentalitatea și eleganța ei. Dintre icoanele praznicare este examinată icoana Adormirii Maicii Domnului, atribuită iconarului Pârvu Mutu și aflată la Muzeul Național de Artă al României, compoziție iconografică complexă aparținând artei brâncovenești. Dintre reprezentările Fecioarei în icoane care ilustrează ciclul Pătimirii Mântuitorului Hristos sunt analizate Coborârea lui Hristos de pe Cruce, expusă la Muzeul Național de Artă al României din București, și Plângerea de înmormântare din biserica Mănăstirii Clocociov sau bolnița bisericii din Hurezi.


Mihail MIHALCU, Mihaela LEONIDA — Iconography in the Late Romanian Middle Ages: Granulometry Issues

Rezumat: Câteva probleme de granulație la iconarii Evului Mediu Românesc

Prezentul studiu se ocupă de materialele folosite ca mediu în operațiile de mărunțire conduse în atelierele iconarilor români medievali. Iconografii români cunoșteau faptul că materialele solide cu care lucrau trebuie aduse la granulații corespunzătoare exigențelor tehnicilor picturale și că mărimea granulelor avea o importanță deosebită la realizarea lucrărilor lor. Scopul mărunțirii materialelor solide cu care lucrau iconarii români era acela de a ușura operațiile ulterioare (preparative sau de punere în operă) dar și obținerea unor efecte cromatice interesante. Operațiile unitare implicate în aducerea materialelor la granulația dorită sunt prezentate împreună cu o discuție despre varietatea mediilor folosite. Iconografii români medievali știau că pentru fiecare pigment exista un grad optim de mărunțire și că, la grade de finețe mai mari, la unii dintre aceștia anumite calități se pierdeau. Fără a o face explicit, ei indicau nuanțat gradul de finețe până la care trebuia să se împingă mărunțirea la fiecare pigment. Pe baza manuscriselor tehnice medievale ale iconarilor români, autorii studiului de față discută mărunțirea câtorva categorii de pigmenți. Studiul continuă firesc cu o examinare a operațiilor și materialelor folosite comparativ cu ce știau și foloseau iconarii din alte arii geografice în aceeași epocă.

Toate aceste informații au fost transmise din generație în generație și unele dintre ele se pot găsi în „cărțile” românești de pictură. Erminiile românești medievale care ne-au parvenit reflectă o vastă cunoaștere a materialelor și tehnicilor folosite; manuscrisele tehnice medievale ne aduc o bogăție de informații despre ce știau iconarii din aria românească despre mărunțire, despre materialele cu care lucrau, despre cum se fac opere ce rezistă admirabil trecerii timpului. Transmise nouă într-o savuroasă limbă arhaică, rețetele si procedurile recomandate pentru mărunțire vorbesc și ele, peste secole, despre o lume tainică în care harul artistic și cunoștințele despre materiale ajunseseră la nivel similar cu cele din centre culturale mai bine cunoscute, în Europa Occidentală sau în aria bizantină.


Mihaela PALADE — Cărămida în arhitectura sacră bizantină – între material de construcție și element estetic

Summary: The Brick in Byzantine Sacred Architecture: Construction Material and Aesthetic Element

One of the most widespread construction materials, the brick, was characteristic to Byzantine architecture, and has become a constant presence throughout the centuries and across the geographic areas under Byzantine influence. The constructors’ skills and resourcefulness in building churches have always known how to exploit the exceptional plastic value of this material, which at a first sight might seem common and unpretentious.

The scarcity of natural stone, the difficulty to process it and other reasons have determined people to seek construction materials easily employed, able to withstand pressure as well as harsh climate, and also aesthetically interesting. They naturally turned to argillaceous soils, and discovered the qualities of clay by drying or burning it, thus obtaining brick. Although many materials are employed in Byzantine architecture, brick was the basic one and represented a key factor in determining the shape and thickness of walls.

The most widespread construction technique was alternating layers of brick and stone (a technique related to the Roman’s opus vittatum); a second manner of building was solid masonry, entirely made of brickwork, without any other elements. A third one is a special technique in which one or several brickbands are recessed and the resulting space is filled with an amount of plaster. The aspect is that of a wall alternating brickbands and (much wider) layers of plaster. A fourth technique applied with brick structures is the cloisonné, consisting in bordering all the four sides of hewn stone blocks with one or several rows of brick.

Depending on the technique and given the fact that materials employed were visible in the wall facing, we can speak of local schools, each having its own constructive and aesthetic characteristics. The Oriental school (influenced by Syria and Armenia) had wall facings made of hewn blocks, where the smooth surfaces were the dominant element, in comparison with the decoration. The Constantinople school resorted to its peculiar combination of stone and brick layers, with a tendency towards the exclusive use of brick. The Greek school employed stone and brick in roughly equal proportions, and favoured the variety of colour and shape of materials over the light-shade interplay given by arcades and niches; the cloisonné was its characteristic decoration (hewn stone, usually placed in a single layer, is flanked horizontally and vertically by several rows of brick).

Although cheap and apparently unpretentious, if compared to stone, brick can prove a rich source of decorative motifs, both when it is the single material used in the wall facing, and when it is combined with other materials. One way of exploiting the aesthetic attributes of brick is the “saw teeth” decorative system, setting the bricks corner to corner, thus creating a specific zig-zagged pattern. Other frequent motifs of Byzantine architecture were the zig-zag, the Holy Cross, the Chrismon, the meander.

There are differences in the aspect of wall facing, among both the above-mentioned schools and the various geographic areas, such as the Serbian churches belonging to the “Moravian school” and the Bulgarian ones of Mesembria (Nesebar, Bulgaria). They demonstrate “the admirable decorative effect which the Byzantines knew how to obtain from plain, modest materials: small-sized stone, bricks and enameled terracotta…”. Byzantine churches decoration became increasingly heavy, culminating in the Paleologan period.

In the Romanian Principalities, brick was used especially in the Wallachian architecture and less in Moldavia and Transylvania, where many quarries existed, and where the brick became widespread only in the 17th century. Romanian ecclesial architecture achieved the aesthetic quality of wall facing either by the manner of arranging the bricks, or their special shapes, or the combinations of materials with different colours and textures.

Vestiges of the early Romanian church architecture show that masonry was made according to the Byzantine tradition, with rows of brick alternating with stone boulders (Sf. Nicolae Domnesc church, Curtea de Arges, mid-14th century).

In order to obtain special profiles – for the plinth course, the stringcourse, the cornice and pillars – bricks were shaped in specially designed molds. The semicircular profile was used for the plinth course, the semicircular or rectangular one for the stringcourse, while semicircular or rounded bricks were employed for the pillars. The torus (a large convex molding, semicircular in cross section, used in arches and other decorative elements) was peculiar to Romanian architecture.

The churches built by the Holy Prince Stephen the Great have a mixed wall facing, with coarse stone (in the wall surface), hewn stone (at the corners), brick (including enameled brick) as well as ceramic tiles in various shapes and colours, among which green, yellow and red hues are dominant. Monumental ceramic (enameled disks, crosses or bricks), can be seen on the façades of Romanian churches, especially the Moldavian ones, which do not merely display a frieze of green, brown, yellow disks or bricks, but a “composition with a wide range of colours and hues, skilfully matching the ornaments of each disk. A row of bricks runs above the plinth course; a second one is below the windows, while others flank the ceramic disks frieze under the cornice, crowning the monument”.

The wall facing of 14th century Wallachian churches achieved a new aspect, borrowed from the rich Byzantine decorative vocabulary: alternating layers of brick and plaster, the latter adorned by one or two bricks set vertically at equal distances. This pattern was adopted by the most important churches erected during the 16th and even the 17th century.

Like the wheat and grapes that provide bread and wine, carriers of deep spiritual significance, bricks also participate in the visible edifice, the place of worship. Their role is both a constructive structure one – providing the necessary stability – and aesthetic – converting spiritual, unseen beauty in tangible architectural forms.

Made of clay and water, fashioned according to man’s will, hardened by fire, insignificant compared to the massive blocks of stone, humbly hidden within the solid walls or displaying its aesthetic qualities on church façades, the brick has spanned centuries, remaining one of the best construction materials belonging to the tradition of Byzantine art.


Pr. Ilie MELNICIUC-PUICĂ — Abrevieri din manuscrisele biblice regăsite în iconografie

Summary: Biblical Manuscript Abbreviations Employed in Iconography

The Byzantine art employs numerous abbreviations, which a non-specialist may find difficult to decipher. The Church, however, as an institution ensuring the preservation of faith unity and the Orthodox accuracy of the message passed down from our Saviour through the Apostles, endeavours to make its dogmatic and artistic treasure known to those seeking the salvific Truth. Orthodoxy is not a religion of the elites, a mysterious teaching, but reveals itself gradually through a body of God-inspired writings. It is both the form and content of Christianity, the two components intertwined.

The present study aims to elucidate the common inscriptions in the biblical text and icons, their significance as well as the evolution of abbreviations in Byzantine iconography. The language of those marks employed in manuscript writing, was not a standardized one. Text variants testify to copyists’ versatility, from the earliest forms of writing to the most refined, nuanced ones.

The abbreviation system was a Christian one, an innovation brought through Hellenistic Jews, especially the authors of the Greek version of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint, who needed abbreviations in their translation work from Hebrew. In the Greek manuscripts on parchment, Iahveh’s name was honoured by writing it in gold or purple letters. Text divisions could be understood and expressed especially by the anagnostes, or church readers, who interpreted the marks indicating punctuation and intonation.

Early Christian copyists knew three manners of writing the divine names (nomina sacra). First, by omitting some of the letters; the first two letters were written, while the others were removed. Secondly, by contraction; the first and last letters are written, while the rest is dropped. The third type of abbreviation is a complex contraction; the first and last letter, as well as some of the in-between ones, are written. The Greek alphabet employed in the Orient ascribed a special function to the letter S, called sigma lunata, looking like the waning crescent moon. This type of writing, employed in medieval manuscripts, resembles the Latin letter C and can be found in the Greek language, especially in Orthodox inscriptions. The horizontal stroke affixed above the letters used to mark a sacred name. The line began above the first letter, extending – with most abbreviations – to include the last letter of the divine name. The end of the line was bent downwards.

The first names to be abbreviated were Κύριος, θεός, Χρηστός, Ἰησοῦς, and πνεῦμα, and by the 11th century fifteen names were also abbreviated. The study provides examples from Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrinus, where abbreviations appear in documents without punctuation or spaces. Abbreviations were then integrated into Christian monograms and symbols (the Christogram, the stavrogram) which became standard inscriptions in the Byzantine iconography. Alongside the abbreviations IC XC and MP ΘY, icons also display O Ω N, ΑΓΙΟС and OCIOC, defining the Orthodox faith. With the advent of uncapitalized (cursive) letters in iconography, variants of the participle O Ω N appear, as well as breathings and accents. The charge for crucifying Jesus is expressed either in Greek letters: INBI, or in Latin ones: INRI. Few icons display the abbreviations in Greek, Latin and Hebrew, the latter being INMI (or IMNI, from right to left). The differing letter indicates the word „king”.

Starting from the Greek abbreviation IAΩ, the present study analyzes the texts of Rev. 1, 8.17; 21, 6 and 22, 13, and the fresco discovered in the catacombs of Commodilla, where Christ Pantokrator is painted. The name of St. John the Apostle, present in Biblical codices, was also abbreviated in iconography, then the abbreviation was extended to votive paintings. The text provides the example of St. Neagoe Basarab.

Byzantine iconography has the merit of unifying the artistic and theological message, and achieving an unprecedented harmony of colours, images and letters. As iconographers confess the living theology of Orthodoxy by their work, we believe the information supplied on biblical abbreviations is highly useful.


Monahia Atanasia VĂETIȘI — „Și refăcând chipul în vrednicia cea dintâi, l-a unit cu dumnezeiasca frumusețe…” Note despre icoana bizantină și imaginea religioasă occidentală

Summary: “Restoring the image to its former dignity, He united it with the divine beauty…” On the Byzantine icon and Western religious painting

The present study starts from the remark that most worship places evince a lack of stylistic unity and harmony of images. Icons and frescoes manifest two different artistic visions, one belonging to the Eastern Byzantine tradition, and the other to the Renaissance or Baroque Western culture.

The transition from the Middle Ages to Renaissance was marked by a change in the motivation, contents, and destination of sacred art. In this process, the worship practices and experience became uncertain about how to relate to the Christian image. The rupture concerned not only style and history of forms, but revealed a different attitude towards the way in which the Church and theological thought understood the role of the image within the worship place and in the life of the Christian believer in the Incarnation dogma, in which any iconic representation is grounded.

The first part of the study describes the specific characteristics of Byzantine aesthetics, as well as aspects of the theology of icon, as it was defined durnig the iconoclast controversies. It shows that the iconographers do not provide a reproduction of nature, but interpret it according to iconographic norms. Byzantine painting is an image intended for the “inner eyes”, passing beyond the physical appearances of people and things, in order to reach their essence. Unlike the Renaissance art, the icon does not show the transient, corruptible body, subject to decay, but the transfigured one illumined by grace.

Due to its liturgical dimension, the icon plays the same role as the preaching by word. It testifies to the Incarnation and at the same time elevates the mind of the onlooker who venerates the prototype through the holy image.

The second part of the study emphasizes the different stances adopted during the Middle Ages by the Eastern and Western Church, towards the role of the image. The Caroline Books (790) failed to see in the image an equivalent to Gospel preaching, and thus sealed the fate of Western artistic creation, by separating it from the experience of the Church and considering it to be autonomous. Charlemagne’s theologians assert that images are not to be venerated, but to commemorate events and adorn the church walls.

Thus the Occident leaves sacred art to the artist’s imagination, replacing the icon with allegorical or didacticist imagery and giving way to fantasy, inspiration and originality. What Christianity had eliminated from its art – the deceptive representation of the visible world – now becomes a goal in itself. Since the invisible is conceived of in terms of the visible, the symbolic language disappears, and transcendence is lowered to the level of everyday life.

The third part of the study dwells on the mutations entailed by the Renaissance art. With the 13th century, medieval aesthetics is left behind and the artists become interested in perspective, representation of volume and three-dimensionality, the chiaroscuro effect. Their painting becomes more refined, although preoccupied with immanence rather than transcendence, and fails to integrate the liturgical dimension. Sacred characters appear in familiar places, dressed according to the times’ fashion, and each image renders the environment contemporary to the artist, even when depicting a biblical scene.

As the work is a result of the artist’s conception or invention, it implicitly proposes the criteria for its assessment or reception.

The main point and the conclusion of the present study is that due to these two different aesthetic paradigms, the worship place has come to lose its coherence and unity. Since the 19th century, when secular mentality engulfed the entire society, “religious” art alien to the Byzantine-tradition icon has entered churches, and is equally venerated. The doctrinal aspect of the icon, expressed by synodal decisions, patristic writings or the Liturgy, as well as the relationship between image and the revealed teachings, are now ignored.

Realistic art is more attractive, easier to understand and assimilate, closer to the concrete and the corporeal. A pious, mawkish art, it appeals to emotion and religiosity and stirs the onlooker’s response easier than the stern image of a saint rendered according to the iconographic rules. Therefore, the stylistic unity of the sacred place is lost and the confusion is perpetuated and accepted as norm.

The study does not intend to demonstrate the superiority of Byzantine icon over Renaissance painting, from the standpoint of art history. It highlights the incompatibility of the two aesthetic categories, their incongruity when placed within the same area such as a church or a cell’s walls, that is a liturgical space, and claiming equal veneration for the mere fact that they render Christ’s face or an episode in His earthly life.


Ierom. Mihail GHEAȚĂU — Estetică și limbaj în iconografie

Summary: Iconography: Aesthetics and Language

Whereas introducing heretical texts among the liturgical ones is inadmissible, accepting heretical imagery is equally unwelcome and entails the same accountability. The present article intends to present the beauty, power and truth of icons, largely ignored while naturalistic images are promoted within the ecclesial space; although some may be even beautiful, they always lack the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Promoting such images, kitsch or bad taste pictures, under the guise of icons, demonstrates shallow knowledge of Orthodox values and the failure to understand that image and word are equally important in preaching the Gospel.

Departing from the truth and the correct practices of the Church inevitably results in heretical, erroneous iconographic representations. Therefore, we can see either mawkish icons stressing Christ’s humanity, or other ones with monophysite (intentional or unintentional) undertones, which belittle the human nature and thus tend to render a non-corporeal Christ (archimandrite Vasilios). By definition, iconographic art is inseparable from apologetics and dogmatics, which means that abandoning the norms of authentic representational legacy and replacing them with alien images, leads to the loss of a major voice through which the revealed Truth would have been proclaimed even more forcefully.

The weakening of faith, ideological proximities, the temptation of the novel and the unexpected, imbuing contemporary artistic experiments, have altered the aspect and contents of the icon in a tragic, grotesque way. In a world which deconstructs and divides in order to analyze, a world oriented towards the mind rather than the heart, one may enter and comprehend the realm of the icon only if equipped with a Christological vision approaching culture and art in an integrative perspective, placing all values in relation with the person of Christ and His salvific, redemptive plan for the mankind.

The Church speaks of the veneration of icons, not of art.

“The dogma of icon veneration must be understood in relation with the Eucharistic dogma;… both of them testify to the living bond between Christ and the world, which is a twofold bond, expressed both in the image and the substance of His body, both in the icon and the Eucharist” (S. Bulgakov).

The representation of reality, transfigured by iconography through the Holy Spirit, reveals in the icon the Image of Christ and the beauty and glory of God’s Kingdom, the Trinitarian mystery, the divine-human nature of Christ, and His Eucharistic Body which is the Church as experienced through the Holy Sacraments (L. Uspensky et alii).

As artistic discourse, reconciling divine truth and artistic beauty, the icon is the result of the relationship between iconographic form and the biblical word. Grounded in the Revelation, iconographic art does not belong to an obsolete past, because the icon, pervaded by the sanctifying presence of the Holy Spirit, has the power to evoke and illustrate the revealed text, in a universal language and at any time. By definition, the icon is meant to support through the specific discourse of image, the theological and dogmatic contents of liturgical cult – rooted in the Holy Scripture and Tradition – and to complement the preaching of God’s Word.

Iconographic language and form have both revealed and historical character, as not any aesthetic contents is able to receive and convey the divine grace. The role of the icon, that is interceding in prayer and wonder working, goes beyond its aesthetic contents. However, one cannot talk about the icon by ignoring the specific character of iconographic form and the other elements pertaining to it.

The evolution of iconographic language and form does not concern its content, which is a revealed fact, but its its manner of expression. Iconographic language and expression have been perfected by canons and Tradition, by rules of iconographic grammar, which aim not to please the eye, but to perpetuate iconographic forms, and to serve their liturgical functionality. Iconographic expression, complying with the Christian dogmas and teachings, makes worldly beauty serve a liturgical-Eucharistic purpose, and invokes the presence of the Holy Spirit through its specific form and language.

Like the evangelic text, the icon summarizes only the main events of the history of salvation. In it, the divine and the human dimension meet and intertwine; the icon testifies to man’s restoration through the Incarnation of the Son of God and constantly calls man to achieve the likeness of God.


Dragoș MÎRȘANU — Further Notes on the Aesthetic Shadowof Gothic Arianism in Ravenna

Rezumat: Din nou despre „haina” estetică a arianismului goților în Ravenna

Studiul de față oferă considerații noi în marginea unei cercetări recente, intitulată – în traducere – „Despre «haina» estetică a arianismului: arheologie, arhitectură și artă în epoca ereziilor”, pe care am publicat-o în paginile unui Festschrift Andrei Pleșu (Zeta Books, 2009). Aceasta era o investigație asupra posibilei reflecții în artă a disputei teologice între barbarii arieni și romanii ortodocși din Galia, Hispania sau Italia, în perioada Antichității târzii (sec. V-VI). Spre exemplu, analizând datele obținute din studiul iconografiei bisericilor din Ravenna sec. al VI-lea și ferindu-mă de pericolul supraevaluării unor mărturii excepționale, conchideam că nu se poate afirma cu certitudine că arta a fost instrumentată astfel încât să ilustreze și să afirme polemic diferențele specifice doctrinelor arianismului, respectiv creștinismului nicean (împotriva arianismului).

Citit în continuarea rezultatelor cercetării principale, textul de față oferă note suplimentare asupra unor elemente iconografice neluate inițial în considerare, dar pe care am decis să le evaluez aici ca urmare a unei recente călătorii de studiu la Ravenna. Astfel, sunt discutate, în principal, medalionul cu crux gemmata din absida bazilicii S. Apollinare in Classe, mozaicul reprezentând Cina cea de Taină cu doi pești și pâini din S. Apollinare Nuovo și tema celor Trei Magi, așa cum e reprezentată în S. Vitale și S. Apollinare Nuvo.

Examinarea atentă, împreună cu necesara contextualizuare istorică, conduc la reafirmarea concluziei de bază a cercetării mele: unele dintre scenele iconografice, cel puțin atunci când sunt însoțite de anumite inscripții scripturistice, transmit un mesaj ce poate sugera o anume înțelegere privind divinitatea Fiului lui Dumnezeu. Împodobit cu astfel de inscripții, medalionul cu marea crux gemmata din S. Apollinare in Classe (iconografie ortodoxă), poate fi considerat purtător al unui astfel de mesaj triumfător, anti-Arian. Neobișnuita scenă din S. Apollinare Nuovo (faza ariană a iconografiei) în care s-au ilustrat doi pești la Cina cea de Taină ar putea fi înțeleasă, chiar dacă într-o manieră rezervată, drept reprezentarea unei tradiții liturgice/religioase specifice arianismului goților. Motivul celor Trei Magi, prezent în bazilicile S. Vitale (iconografie ortodoxă) și S. Apollinare Nuovo (faza ortodoxă a iconografiei) a intenționat, în principal, să acorde statutul de noi Magi (închinători) pentru împăratul Justinian și împărăteasa Teodora. Nu este însă exclus ca cei Trei Magi să fi fost ilustrați și pentru a transmite un mesaj anti-arian (ca o mărturisire a Trinității) și chiar anti-monofizit (ca o afirmare a umanității reale a Domnului Iisus Hristos).

Studiul este însoțit de fotografii ale scenelor iconografice luate în discuție.

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