Jesus, the Image of God in John of Damascus

Because the one who by excellency of nature transcends all quantity and size and magnitude…has now…contracted himself into a quantity and size and has acquired a physical identity, do not hesitate any longer to draw pictures and to set forth, for all to see, him who has chosen to let himself be seen.

John of Damascus, On the Images

For eighth-century iconoclasts, there was no thinker more dangerous than St. John of Damascus (d.749). A vigorous defender of images, he was branded by Christian iconoclasts a "traitorous worshipper of images" and a "wronger of Jesus Christ." For John, the moment the divine became incarnate, the eternal became particular in Jesus, the divine became a fit subject for iconic representation. God was not exclusively divine and beyond the reach of human sensibility. In Jesus of Nazareth, God had walked the earth as a man, had been abused and rejected as a man, had suffered and died as a man. Portraying Jesus in his humanity was not only an appropriate task, but a sacred duty, for it was only through Christ’s humanity including his Passion, death, and resurrection that the meaning of his divinity became clear.
Canadian Heritage Information Network, The Provincial Museum of Alberta

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