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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Wildest Monsters of the Apocalypse


"Though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his own commentators."

- G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Ch. 2.


Thursday, April 4, 2019

Will Constantinople Be the Capital of Greece in 2020?

An 1803 map from Cedid Atlas refers to Istanbul as Islambol 
(though the Bosphorus is called the Istanbul Strait on the map)

By John Sanidopoulos

Last month President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey made remarks and answered questions on current issues in a joint interview with Kanal 7, TVNET and Ülke TV in Istanbul. Among the things he commented on was the name of the city of Istanbul, and whether or not it would be called Constantinople again. He said: "Istanbul will never be Constantinople." He further said: "This is Islambol. We do not have any Constantinople on our minds or in our dreams. We will not allow something like this to happen."

Islambol is a Turkish folk-etymological adaptation of Istanbul created after the Ottoman conquest of 1453 to express the city's new role as the capital of the Islamic Ottoman Empire. It is first attested shortly after the conquest, and its invention was ascribed by some contemporary writers to Sultan Mehmed II himself. Some Ottoman sources of the 17th century, most notably Evliya Çelebi, describe it as the common Turkish name of the time. Between the late 17th and late 18th centuries, it was also in official use. The first use of the word "Islambol" on coinage took place in 1703 during the reign of Sultan Ahmed III. The term Kostantiniyye (Costantinopolis) still appeared, however, into the 20th century.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Orthodox Iconography as an Eschatological Art


By Steven Bigham

For Christians, eschatological “time” and “space” are our time and our space transfigured by the glory of Christ. We use quotation marks to speak of time and space for the following reason: since our words describe the reality of our world, they lose some of the relevance when we try to talk about what goes beyond our experience of the world. This is why poetry, parables, and image language are better suited for talking about the end time than discursive, rational, scientific language. All the eschatological passages of the Bible, especially those of Daniel and Revelations, use verbal imagery that seems, to our far-too-earthly eyes, very close to pure fantasy.

We can easily see that every word that tries to express the reality of the Kingdom of God must necessarily be deformed and stretched toward imagery so as to perceive “through a mirror dimly” (1Cor.13:12) that which we only know by foretaste. The same conditions apply to the icon but are expressed in a different manner: the icon has the task of representing, making visible, people and events in the light of the Kingdom of God. Such persons lived, such events took place in history, our history, according to the conditions that govern our existence, but they allow us to glimpse a reality which is not ruled by those conditions. Iconography, therefore, must use material and techniques that belong to our world (colors, lines, brushes, little colored stones, etc.) to show forth the Kingdom of God. The icon’s relation with the word is once again brought out: What poetry and parables are to the ear, iconography is to the eye.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Eschatological Nature of Asceticism


The eschatological settings of the marriage feast parables in the New Testament encouraged the ascetic nature of Christianity. To engage in activities that furthered the existence of this earthly life only delayed the inevitable — and desired — arrival of the eschaton. Christ as Second Adam had opened the gates of Paradise anew for those who were saved and promised their return to that state of grace lived by the First Adam and Eve before the Fall. To hasten the fulfillment of this event, the believer lived in its expectation and sought in every way possible not to contribute to the continuing existence of this earthly realm, for example, by the procreation of children.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Concerning the Last Judgement (St. Ephraim the Syrian)


Concerning the Last Judgement

Letter Addressed to Publius

By St. Ephraim the Syrian

You would do well not to let fall from your hands the polished mirror of the holy Gospel of your Lord, which reproduces the image of everyone who gazes at it and the likeness of everyone who peers into it. While it keeps its own natural quality, undergoes no change, is devoid of any spots, and is free of any soiling, it changes its appearance before colors although it itself is not changed .

Before white things it becomes [white] like them.

Before black things, it becomes dark like them.

Before red things [it becomes] red like them.

Before beautiful things, it becomes beautiful like them and before ugly things, it becomes hideous like them.