Revista Studii Teologice


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"«Botezul Domnului» în iconografia bisericilor din nordul Moldovei şi «Zapisul lui Adam»"

“Lord’s Baptism” in the iconography of Northern Mol-davian churches, and “Adam’s covenant”

Autor(i): Pr. George V. PALADE

Abstract: “Lord’s Baptism” in the iconography of Northern Mol-davian churches, and “Adam’s covenant”
The iconographical study presents and analyzes the “Lord’s Baptism” icons in northern Moldavia, whose common peculiarity is their placing in the Saviour’s left hand a scroll bearing the words: “Adam’s covenant”. Starting from the liturgical event of the Baptism, the study dwells on the beauty of divine services and reveals the importance and richness of liturgical hymns and their consecrated authors, the great patristic and philokalic theologians: St. John Damascene (†749), St. Cosmas of Maiuma or the Melodist (†781), St. Andrew of Crete (†740) or St. Joseph of Studion (†829). Their poetic creations stem from their meditations on New Testament texts and theologize about the Lord’s Baptism. Church history tells us that the icon of “The Lord’s Baptism” accompanied the liturgical life of the early Christian centuries, and was present in the iconographic and liturgical worship program.
Within the iconographic programs of the Romanian Principalities, the Baptism icons of Suceviţa deserve special attention, due to their unique representation of “Adam’s covenant” held by the Saviour. The first of these frescoes, painted under Ieremia Movilă (1595-1604), appears in the porch of the Resurrection church, on its western wall, within the series dedicated to St. John the Baptist’s life. The second Baptismal fresco to be found at the Lavra of Suceviţa, is painted on the western wall of the narthex, and pertains to the menologion of January, 7. The third iconographic representation of the Baptism at Suceviţa is painted at the bottom of the steeple surmounting the nave, within the festal icons series. The fresco, of semicircular shape, is rich in pictorial elements although “Adam’s covenant” is missing from the Saviour’s hand. Similar in style and contents to those of Suceviţa, are the Baptism icons in the nave of the Pentecost Church of Dragomirna Monastery, which feature the “covenant” and are studied in order to highlight the iconographic peculiarities and complete the iconographic manuals. The analysis of “Adam’s covenant” leads us to other iconographic representations of the “covenant”, such as the icons: “Wanting to bestow grace on debtors…” (the 12th kontakion of the Akathist Hymn to the Annunciation), “Here Adam wrote his covenant” within the series “Adam’s expulsion from Paradise”, “The Descent into Hell” as well as “the Last Judgment” and “The Aerial Toll Houses”. The conclusion shows that the researchers into our old literature, as well as the historians of our medieval art, wrongly employ the phrase “Adam’s covenant” to designate an apocryphal legend of gnostic inspiration, The Life of Adam and Eve. The phrase “Adam’s covenant” was consecrated by the Holy Fathers in our Church’s hymnography and is rooted in the words of Apostle Paul, who wrote to the Colossians that our Saviour Jesus Christ “blotted out the record of debt that stood against us, nailing it to the cross and having disarmed the powers and authorities” (Col. 2:14). It represents an iconographical symbol both for the original sin and the soteriological fact of the restoration of God’s image within the man, by the New Adam, our Saviour Jesus Christ. The composition of the icon of “Lord’s Baptism” in its totally original version of the “covenant” is unique within the Byzantine iconography. It deepens the theological dimension of the icon, and deserves better attention. It reveals the wisdom of both iconographers and those having commissioned the icons.

Pagini: pp. 63-80