Metamorphosis: The Transfiguration in Byzantine Theology And Iconography


The Transfiguration

in Byzantine Theology And Iconography



254 pages

This book counts for

My Dewey Decimal Challenge

and for

The 2011 Non-Fiction Challenge


This book taps the vein of the blending of theology and art in the Middle Ages, in particular, the evolution of the imagery and theology surrounding the Transfiguration Of Christ. In this well-researched volume, Andreas Andreopoulos discusses in detail every philosophical and ritual application of the Transfiguration icon – the mountain, the cloud, the mandorla, the positioning of the apostles, the Old Testament prophets, and the image of Christ himself – taking the reader through an illustrated historical journey. The author simplifies the complex relationship between the dogma of the church fathers and Byzantine art and makes it understandable to a non-specialist audience. Nevertheless, theologians, historians, and art historians alike will appreciate the interdisciplinary value of this clearly presented documentation. Andreopoulos’s expert use of patristic texts and Jewish sources, as well as the New Testament and apocryphal writings and pagan sources, elucidates the development of art and doctrine that surround this scriptural epiphany [gooodreads]


Andreas Andreopoulos is Senior Lecturer in Orthodox Christianity and Programme Leader of the MTh in Orthodox Studies. He studied in Greece, Canada and the UK. See his bibliography here


This is one of the best books I have read on the Transfiguration! I have read lots of studies on the topic, but this one is unique in the sense that it combines both theology AND iconography; it’s not: 1st part on theology, 2nd part on iconography, it’s: how does the Transfiguration theology influence the Transfiguration iconography, and vice versa, with also repercussions on/influences from the Liturgy.

I thought I knew a few things on the Transfiguration, but I discovered so much in this book; I enjoyed especially the development related to the different possible shapes of the mandorla in the Transfiguration iconography


In his works Celestial Hierarchy and Ecclesiastical Hierarchy,  pseudo-Dionysios describes  a universe where hierarchy is the means by which divine illumination reaches down to the entire creation.
Moreover, this act of illumination, somehow following the Platonist and the Christian tradition at the same time, facilitates the return to God, the ultimate union with Him.
This is what is particularly impressive about the cosmology of pseudo-Dionysios.
His view of the universe reflects a metaphysics of the light, something unprecedented on this scale.
This light reaches to the smallest and most remote parts of creation completely undiminished, unifies the creation, and draws the creation back to the Creator. pp.148-149

“In most holy contemplation
we shall be ever filled with the sight of God
shining gloriously around us
as once it shone for the apostles at the divine Transfiguration.
And there we shall be,
our minds away from passion and from earth,
and we shall have a conceptual gift of light from Him,
and, somehow, in a way we cannot know,
we shall be united with Him and,
our understanding carried away,
blessed happy,
we shall be struck by His blazing light”.
Dionysios the Areopagite, Divine Names, 1.4.592C quoted here p.149


4 thoughts on “Metamorphosis: The Transfiguration in Byzantine Theology And Iconography

  1. Pingback: Read in April 2011 « Words And Peace

  2. Pingback: My Dewey Decimal Challenge 2011 « Words And Peace

  3. Pingback: Review: This is My Beloved Son: The Transfiguration | Words And Peace

  4. Pingback: Six degrees of separation: from phos to light | Words And Peace

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