The body within the frame: A use of word and image in iconoclasm

Charles Barber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


For one hundred and forty years the Byzantine Empire was ravaged by a ferocious debate about the legitimacy of religious imagery. Initiated in the period around 730, this age of iconoclasm ran with varying degrees of intensity through to the 870s.1 One of the products of this theological crisis was the construction of a distinct and valid visual discourse that legitimated the continuing existence and function of the icon.By visual discourse I do not mean the arguments that legitimated the icon, rather I mean that there existed a distinct and legitimate means of expression that was visual. The purpose of this paper is to analyse an instance of the reasoning behind this distinct visual discourse. In this paper I will examine how this discourse was argued for in one of the last worjds in iconoclasm, the third canon of the eighth Oecumenical Council held in Constantinople (Istanbul) in 869–70. The canon reads:.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-153
Number of pages14
JournalWord and Image
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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