Anabasis, Theophany, Katabasis
. These Greek words for 'ascent' 'revelation of God' and 'descent' outline the scriptural account of Christ's Transfiguration, and form the narrative skeleton of Nes' theological history of its icon. The ascent to Tabor in the Synoptic Gospels (and notably in 2 Peter 1:16-18) gives the disciples the strength to bear and understand the Passion, and reminds them that the Suffering Servant is also King of Glory. As a Feast, the Transfiguration is the commemoration of our theosis
-our renewal in the likeness of God. The Christian East places a special emphasis on the Transfiguration in its liturgical life; the icon of the Feast is therefore an interpretation of its cosmic relevance. Nes considers Transfiguration icons from Sinai to Novgorod, from 500 to1400-their structure and composition and the dense soteriological dogmas they convey. From the Festal Menaion
: 'Transfigured, Thou hast made the nature that had grown dark in Adam to shine again as lightning, transforming it into the glory and splendor of Thine own divinity.' The Uncreated Light
amply demonstrates the dynamic synergy between Image and Word that pervades the Orthodox Tradition. [Note: a publisher error-titles for plates 12/13 in the color plate section are transposed with 14/15.]
An Eighth Day View:
Distinguished religious artist Solrunn Nes in this volume explores the beauty and truth found in icons of Christ's transfiguration. As Nes observes in her introduction, the transfiguration of Jesus Christ is an especially rich subject in the abundant iconographical tradition of the Eastern Church. In weaving together iconographical representations and theological interpretation, The Uncreated Light is itself a beautiful exploration of this subject. Structured according to the biblical account of Christ's transfiguration, the book is divided into three main parts. The first, corresponding with the ascent up the mountain, presents the iconographical theme in four representative works of previous centuries. The second section focuses on the "vision of light" and considers the Orthodox interpretation of the event based on a selection of art and texts. The third and final section parallels the descent back down the mountain; here Nes goes back to the icons themselves, interpreting them anew in light of the insights gained under the "vision of light." Including full-color plates of the icons discussed and a lengthy appendix, The Uncreated Light is a testament to the author's own artistic grace and to her deep understanding of iconographical art as an expression of faith.