Earliest Spanish Image of Christ Discovered

October 03, 2014 (Source: http://www.thelocal.es)

Originally reported on October 02

One of the world’s earliest representations of Christ has been unearthed in southern Spain by a team of archaeologists, a glass plate which shines new light on the arrival of Christianity in Spain.

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NFTU Editor’s Note:

The image is interesting for several reasons. One reason is that the image of Christ is ‘beardless’. To us Orthodox this seems strange; however, you do occasionally find such images, especially in some forms of early Byzantine iconography. For example, Christ the Emperor mosaic found in Ravenna, has the Lord dressed as a young warrior-emperor, holding a Cross and a Gospel book, and beardless.  Some early Catacomb images are similar, with Christ being portrayed as a beardless Good Shepherd. However, much of this must be understood as being in the realm of symbolic-allegory of sorts, as opposed to the attempt by most iconography, and especially by all later forms, to afford a strong element of the historical image of the person depicted (especially Our Lord).  Thus, there was once a time in which it was acceptable to depict St. John Baptist pointing towards a Lamb (with the Lamb representing Christ): however, in the Synod of Trullo, it was found that it was no longer expedient to do this.  In Canon 82, Trullo states:

“In some of the paintings of the venerable icons, a lamb is inscribed as being shown or pointed at by the Precursor’s finger, which was taken to be a type of grace, suggesting beforehand through the law the true lamb to us, Christ our God. Therefore, eagerly embracing the old types and the shadows as symbols of the truth and preindications handed down to the Church, we prefer the grace, and accept it as the truth in fulfillment of the Law. Since, therefore, that which is perfect even though it be but painted is imprinted in the faces of all, the Lamb who taketh away the sin of the world Christ our God, with respect to His human character, we decree that henceforth He shall be inscribed even in the icons instead of the ancient lamb: through Him being enabled to comprehend the reason for the humiliation of the God Logos, and in memory of His life in the flesh and of His passion and of His soterial death being led by the hand, as it were, and of the redemption of the world which thence accrues.”

So, though it was acceptable at one time, the Church more than had authority to rule on how the Lord Jesus Christ should be depicted. Thus, a stronger element of historical depiction came to predominate, against some earlier forms which focused entirely on typology.