The perspective of Pope Gregory I on Images/Icons.

Discussion in 'Church History' started by SebastianClinciuJJ, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. SebastianClinciuJJ

    SebastianClinciuJJ Puritan Board Freshman

    I discovered this interesting opinion of Gregory I while reading from the History of the Byzantine Empire's take on the Iconoclastic Controversy.

    This is what Vasilievsky wrote concerning Gregory I and the "Iconoclastic Controversy" of his day:
    The view of Gregory I is clearly expressed in his Letter 105, from book IX of his Epistolarum libri:
    (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 13. & MPL 77:1027-1028)

    And also in Letter 13, from book XI of his Epistolarum libri:
    (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 13. & MPL 77:1128-1130)

    I know that Calvin rejected the view of Gregory I. So even though Gregory's perspective is non considered to be the best by Reformed thinkers, I think his example is a good one to show the development of the use of images in the Church and the weakness of the arguments of those who say that the veneration of images/icons is an Apostolic practice that has been universally accepted, since Luke was the first "icon painter"(a tradition used by some).

    Now, I am sure some Catholic apologists can play around words (adorare/venerari etc.), but to me it seems very clear that Pope Gregory I's teaching is not in harmony with the teaching of the Second Council of Nicaea.

    Greetings in Christ,
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
  2. Aco

    Aco Puritan Board Freshman

    I would earnestly recommend you to read Leslie Brubaker's: Byzantium in the iconoclast era (c. 680-850).
    This work has very good excerpts on the development of the theology of icons in the East. Now it is unrelated, I would say, to Gregory's stance on that issue, but there are also relations towards it's development in the West showed in this work. A thick work on just the iconoclast controversy.

    Since I see that you read in the history of Byzantium, I would recommend you to read George Ostrogorsky's: History of the Byzantine State. It is a work from the sixties but it is still one of the best synthesis in one volume. There also some good arguments posited concerning the theological developments in eastern theology, even that Ostrogorsky was only a byzantologist and historian.
  3. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior

    Here's another gloss of Gregory the Great on the concept of veneration, not so much of images, but of men, nonetheless the two are related.

    Gregory the Great (Gregory I c. 540-603) commenting on John 8:52: It’s as if in venerating Abraham and the prophets they [i.e. the Jews] were placing them ahead even of Truth himself. We are shown that those who do not know God venerate his servants erroneously. See Dom David Hurst, trans., Gregory the Great, Forty Gospel Homilies, Homily 16 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1990), p. 116.
  4. SebastianClinciuJJ

    SebastianClinciuJJ Puritan Board Freshman

    I searched this passage in the PL and found it. It reads as follows:
    (PL 76:1152)

    Thank you for pointing out this passage!
  5. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior

    Yes, the homilies are numbered a little differently as they vary in editions. I went with the number that translation offered. I'm blessed to have nearly all the volumes of Migne's Patrologia Latina & Patrologia Graeca on my PC. It saves a lot of time having to run to a good theological library. But they can be found on the web as well.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019

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