Quinisext Council, Canon 82.previous | next
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.
Since some painters paint Christ as a sheep and lamb, with the Forerunner pointing his finger at him and saying, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world,” therefore and on this account the present Canon commands that hereafter in the future this shall not be done, but instead Christ Himself shall be painted a full-grown man, with respect to His human character, in order that by means of the human aspect we may be enabled to recall to memory His life in the flesh and His passion and His death, and the salvation of the world resulting therefrom. For, as regarding those old types of the Law, we honor and value them, out of consideration for the fact that they prefigured the truth of the Gospel and of grace, among which one was that of the lamb slaughtered on the occasion of the Passover (or Easter), taken in the image of Christ, the true Lamb which taketh away the sin of the world. But now that this truth and the realities themselves have come, we prefer it and accept it rather than the types.
 This Canon is mentioned also by George Cedrenus. Hence the Papists are also silenced on this score who are persistent in traducing and misrepresenting the Canons of the Council and saying that no historian has mentioned them. Even Pope Adrian accepts this one in writing to Tarasius. Note that according to this Canon painters ought not to depict, either in the Cross of Christ or in any other holy icons the four animals alone which prefigured in the old law the four Evangelists, but, instead, greatly prefering the truth, let them depict the four Evangelists with respect to the human character. I said the four animals alone because if the four Evangelists are painted with a human character, and together with them the animals which prefigured them are also depicted, this, it seems to me, would involve no sin. This canon of the Sixth Ec. C. is mentioned also the the Seventh Ec. C. in its sixth act and in its fourth; and also by Adrian, in his first letter to Tarasius; and through the reading of this Canon Ellas, the Presbyter of the Church of the Blachernae, though formerly an iconoclast (or iconomach), was corrected (page 789 of the Collection of the Councils. See also in the Prolegomena of this same Council). That explains also why the Seventh Ec. C. (Letter to Alexandria, p. 905 of the second volume) says for the Lady Theotokos to be painted rather as a girl (i.e., as a damsel), and not as an ark and a rod and candlestick and all the other things that used to be types of Her. If, however, all roundabout the Theotokos there be depicted also the things that served to prefigure Her, it would not, methinks, involve any sin.
previous | next