Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Holy Spirit in the form of a dove

From the blog A Reader's Guide to Orthodox Icons a post entitled "The Holy Spirit as a dove in iconography."

A previous post on the Throne of Preparation showed the widespread (in time and location) practice of depicting the Holy Spirit as a dove. The Holy Spirit did descend “as a dove” at the Baptism of Christ, and so naturally we can see a dove representing the Holy Spirit in icons of this event. Yet there is some opposition to the widespread practice of using the dove to symbolize the Holy Spirit in other images, such as on the Throne of Preparation and icons of Pentecost (e.g.: here).

It is true that icons properly deal with what has been divinely revealed, rather than human imagining of divine things in terms of symbols and signs. However, the use of the dove as an easily recognizable symbol of the Holy Spirit’s presence persists in Orthodox iconography, and is based on numerous sources outside of the baptism of Christ.

Saint Gregory of Nazianzus says of the Holy Spirit’s appearance as a dove at Christ’s baptism...

Complete article here.

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