10 episodes

On the occasion of the exhibition Splendour and Glory: Art of the Russian Orthodox Church in Hermitage Amsterdam (19 March – 16 September 2011) a special lecture series was held in the museum. The Amsterdam Centre for Orthodox Theology (ACOT) of VU University Amsterdam organized this series of four times two academic lectures. The lectures were given on the following dates:

26 March: Revd. Dr. Michael Bakker and Revd. Prof. Andrew Louth (general introduction and introduction to Russian Orthodox tradition)
16 April: Revd. Prof. Andrew Louth and Aidan Hart, BA (images and icons)
21 May: Revd. Prof. Andrew Louth and Revd. Dr. Ivan Moody (liturgy and music)
18 June: Revd. Dr. Cyril Hovorun and Revd. Prof. Andrew Louth (monasticism and spirituality).

Art and Spirituality of the Russian Orthodox Tradition Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

    • Arts

On the occasion of the exhibition Splendour and Glory: Art of the Russian Orthodox Church in Hermitage Amsterdam (19 March – 16 September 2011) a special lecture series was held in the museum. The Amsterdam Centre for Orthodox Theology (ACOT) of VU University Amsterdam organized this series of four times two academic lectures. The lectures were given on the following dates:

26 March: Revd. Dr. Michael Bakker and Revd. Prof. Andrew Louth (general introduction and introduction to Russian Orthodox tradition)
16 April: Revd. Prof. Andrew Louth and Aidan Hart, BA (images and icons)
21 May: Revd. Prof. Andrew Louth and Revd. Dr. Ivan Moody (liturgy and music)
18 June: Revd. Dr. Cyril Hovorun and Revd. Prof. Andrew Louth (monasticism and spirituality).

    flyer ACEOT lezingen

    flyer ACEOT lezingen

    Het Amsterdam Centre for Eastern Orthodox Theology (ACEOT) en de
    Hermitage Amsterdam organiseren een bijzondere reeks academische
    lezingen (Engelstalig) op vier zaterdagmiddagen tijdens de tentoonstelling
    Glans en glorie. In deze reeks staan de kunst en de spiritualiteit van de
    Russisch-orthodoxe traditie centraal.

    ACEOT Hermitage Lectures General Description

    ACEOT Hermitage Lectures General Description

    General description of the lecture series plus bibliography.

    • video
    General Introduction 1

    General Introduction 1

    After a general introduction to the course and information about the practical
    arrangements, the following subjects will be treated:
    - The early church and the Eastern Orthodox Church
    - The Roman Empire and Byzantium
    - The Old (Church) Slavic language and Russian
    - Glagolitic and Cyrillic alphabets
    - The texts initially translated from Greek into Old Slavic
    - Some samples of Slavic writing: inscriptions on icons

    • 30 min
    • video
    General Introduction 2

    General Introduction 2

    The traditional date in the Christianization of Russia is 988, the year of the
    baptism of Prince Vladimir of Kiev. Vladimir received Christianity from the
    Byzantine Empire (traditionally, after investigating the religious beliefs and
    practices of neighbouring countries). By the tenth century, Byzantine
    Christianity was an elaborate construction of beliefs, practices both liturgical
    and ascetic, philosophy, art and culture, and everything that had come to be
    associated with the monastic life, which played an especial role in the Eastern
    Church. With the example of Bulgaria (and probably Serbia)—as well as
    more anciently Georgia—behind them, the Byzantines brought to Kiev
    Byzantine Christianity in a Slav dress (unlike the West, where
    Christianization entailed Latinization). This meant that there was what might
    be called a ‘linguistic filter’: the Slavs absorbed more readily aspects of
    Byzantine Christianity that did not need translation—the ceremony of the
    liturgy, the art of icons, music (though we know little about this), and the
    practice of monasticism—rather than the complexities of Byzantine theology
    and philosophy, with the result that Slav Orthodoxy had a different
    complexion from its parent Byzantine Orthodoxy. Within Slav Orthodoxy,
    icons and ceremonial, in particular, assumed greater significance than within
    Byzantine Orthodoxy, as the intellectual culture fell into the background. The
    sense that Slav Orthodoxy was dependent on Byzantine Orthodoxy remained
    significant, and led to the Nikonian reforms of the seventeenth century, when
    the Slavonic liturgical and iconographic traditions were adjusted to
    correspond with current Greek practice. Many refused to accept these
    changes, and became known as ‘Old Ritualists’ or ‘Old Believers’, a
    persecuted minority, whose preservation of ancient iconographic traditions is
    now greatly valued.

    • 48 min
    • video
    Images and Icons within Russian Orthodox

    Images and Icons within Russian Orthodox

    One of the features of Russian Orthodoxy that most strikes Westerners when
    they encounter Orthodoxy is the prominence of icons, or sacred images. The
    Russians inherited from Byzantine Orthodoxy a sense of the importance of
    images in worship, both public and private, that had been enhanced by the 3
    iconoclast controversy of the eighth to ninth centuries, and the final defeat of
    iconoclasm. This controversy, far more important in Byzantium than in the
    West, made icons a required aspect of Orthodox practice. It also involved the
    acceptance of an understanding of the place of religious images as ways of
    disclosing invisible realities, but also a way in which the material found an
    important place in religious practice, and indeed came to be held to be
    entailed by God’s assumption of humanity in the Incarnation. Because of the
    ‘linguistic filter’, all of this became hugely important within the world of Slav
    Orthodoxy. Orthodox devotion revolved around icons, and, as in Byzantium,
    they played a role in the defence of the Orthodox nations against attack.
    Legends traced icons back to the time of Christ; the Vladimir icon of the
    Mother of God being claimed as the work of St Luke the Evangelist (a claim
    Byzantine had made for the Hodigitria icon of the Mother of God). Particular
    icons—especially of the Mother of God—were associated with different places
    and had their own cult. Icons also provided a way of linking the public
    worship of the Church with the private devotions of Orthodox Christians:
    homes came to have a small domestic shrine, the ‘beautiful corner’, krasny
    ugol.

    • 48 min
    • video
    The icon as a living tradition: Diversity within unity in Russian iconography

    The icon as a living tradition: Diversity within unity in Russian iconography

    The icon tradition is rooted in timeless theological truths, which are
    summarized in the formula of St Athanasius the Great that God became man
    so that man, by grace, can become god. These truths have informed not only
    the use but also the style of Orthodox icons over the centuries. This unity of
    purpose and inspiration explains why we can so readily distinguish an icon
    from other types of painting of religious subjects.
    And yet within this unity there is also great variety of style. The icon tradition
    is not static, as though the icon painter is restricted to precise copying from a
    set body of work. The realities and events that icons depict are so profound
    that no one culture, epoch or individual can express their meaning
    exhaustively. This is why a central tenant of Orthodox spirituality is that each
    culture should live and express life in Christ in its own unique way, whilst
    retaining unity of belief and sacrament with the whole Church. This 4
    enculturation is a natural continuation of Pentecost, where the twelve apostles
    preached the same Gospel but in different languages. At its conversion, for
    example, Russia adopted from of its parent Byzantine culture the forms of its
    church architecture, iconography and music. But very soon it adapted what it
    adopted. Architects transformed the round dome into the onion dome;
    Russian iconographers began to model their figures less than the Byzantines
    and instead concentrated on the contrast of flat areas of colour; and Znameny
    chant grew out of Byzantine chant.
    In this lecture we will first summarize the theological basis of the icon
    tradition – what is unchanging, and then consider some of the Russian icon
    schools, their characteristics and what may have produced their particular
    forms.

    • 1 hr

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