The Ascending Prayer to Christ : Theodore Stoudite's defence of the Christ-єikwv against ninth century iconoclasm
Theodore Stoudite (759-826) was at the centre of a revival of patristic learning which equipped him to apply the weight of the Christian tradition to the Byzantine image controversy of the eighth and ninth centuries. In this recovery of the tradition Theodore discovered how the epistemological and ontological demands of both radical divine transcendence and divine active agency in the creative order are met in the incarnate Christ. He concluded that the liturgical expression of this developed theology requires the presence of the Christ- єikwv. The structure of this thesis reflects the single argument of the three-part ‘Avtρρητικοι κατα єικουομάxwv(c. 816). Antirr I and II describe the content of the 754 and 787 Councils, revealing the causes of the theological impasse which prevented the resolution of the controversy. In Antirr I and II Theodore also establishes the ground for his argument in Antirr III by distancing the eighth century Christ- єikwv from its function in former centuries as symbol, pure narrative painting and relic. Theodore defines its contemporary function as liturgical, devotional and doctrinal in character. Written in response to the 815 Council, Antirr III is Theodore's apology for this Christ- єikwv as a legitimate object of лροσκύvησs-. The argument is established within the parameters of the tradition as Theodore carefully defends the circumscribability of Christ in accordance with Chalcedonian Christology. My analysis of the Antirr, assisted by a reading of his letters, reveals that Theodore understands the Christ- єikwv as playing a key role both in the ascetic struggle to free the mind from λογισμοι (distracting thoughts), and in the practice of θєwρια(contemplation) within the Liturgy. The liturgical, doctrinal and devotional Christ- єikwv has become a revealed and formal means by which the worshipper receives a Dionysian άυαγwγη(spiritual uplifting) to the divine presence.