Art of the Icon, The


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Paul evdokimov gives us today a summa on beauty, rather "in" beauty, that divine-human beauty "that will save the world," as Dostoevsky predicted. In order to bring such an undertaking to a good conclusion, to a "beautiful" conclusion, falling neither into aestheticism nor into an intellectual reduction of the mystery, a great Orthodox theologian was obviously necessary. The task had to be carried out from the point of view of a theology that "sings glory" in the communion of the transfigured ones, and we know that in the last few years, Paul Evdokimov has given us some important studies on Eastern Christian spirituality and liturgy. The book begins with the biblical and patristic vision of beauty and then, in the light of that vision, deals with the contemporary movements in art. It continues with a theology of the icon in which the human person becomes something like the sacrament of Light where history is already drawn up into eternity. The final section is a series of commentaries on ten faithfully reproduced icons. The commentary begins with the masterpiece of Rublev and ends with the Novgorodian Angel of Wisdom. We are thus led from the mystery of the Trinity, the source of sacrificial love, to the mystery of Wisdom which makes the Trinity the sacred place of our renewed existence and becomes in us an integral knowledge where the heart is set affire in beauty. -Olivier Clement Softbound. 353 pp.