Christ with the Twelve Disciples

  Christ with the Twelve Disciples

Photo © Martin Crampin, Imaging the Bible in Wales

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Icon depicting Christ as the vine with the disciples among the branches. God the Father, with the dove of the Holy Spirit are shown above.

support: on wood
technique: painting


Church of St David, Llanarth, Ceredigion
south wall of the nave

This is a certificated copy of a Byzantine icon, painted in Greece.

The title of this icon is 'The Vine', a direct reference to John 15, especially verse 5. The inscription 'The Vine' in Greek may be seen at the top, above the image of God the Father.

This pictorial development of the branches is better known in the West through the image of the Tree of Jesse. A similar iconographic example is the theme of Mary surrounded by Old Testament prophets. What we see in this icon is a spiritual lineage which supercedes a biological one; the lineage starts with Christ and extends to the apostles (John 15:5) but very often the vine is widely understood in Orthodoxy as reaching all the way to the present.

Although in this icon the text in the open book held by Christ is always John 15, the symbol of the open book itself is that of revealed Divinity at the end of time. The open book is therefore an eschatalogical symbol. It is only associated with Christ.

Something unusual in this icon is the representation of the Father as the Ancient of Days. This is not part of the standard iconographic type, though it does appear occasionally, permitted as long as the image was small and does not seriously contradict the invisibility of the Father. This particular icon seems influenced by Russian icons of the Trinity, because it also includes a representation of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, proceeding from the Father.

(Note contributed by Dr Andreas Andreopoulos).




 

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Further reading

Andreas Andreopoulos, Interview with Andreas Andreopoulos (Lampeter: 30 November 2007).




Photo © Martin Crampin, Imaging the Bible in Wales


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