Sacred Doorways: A Beginner's Guide to Icons

Overview

When Linette Martin, a student at Oxford University, asked her art history tutor if there were any good books on icons for the ordinary reader, he replied that there were books by Orthodox theologians from an theological perspective and books by art history professors from an art history perspective, but nothing for the ordinary reader. Martin, herself an Anglican, set out to fill the gap by writing Sacred Doorways: A Beginner's Guide to Icons.

Martin explains that she was ...

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Overview

When Linette Martin, a student at Oxford University, asked her art history tutor if there were any good books on icons for the ordinary reader, he replied that there were books by Orthodox theologians from an theological perspective and books by art history professors from an art history perspective, but nothing for the ordinary reader. Martin, herself an Anglican, set out to fill the gap by writing Sacred Doorways: A Beginner's Guide to Icons.

Martin explains that she was initially captivated by the beauty and mystery of icons, but did not understand their "language." Her goal for Sacred Doorways was to write their alphabet, thereby helping others to understand this ancient Byzantine art form. Icons, Martin explains, are meant to convey Christian truths in a visual form, as a complement to the written Bible.

Sacred Doorways is an ideal book for the Orthodox to pass along to their non-Orthodox friends. For Catholics and Protestants, it will serve as a non-technical, yet comprehensive introduction to help to increase understanding and appreciation of Orthodox spirituality. For the general reader, Sacred Doorways provides an essential guidebook to one of the most ancient religious art forms in the world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
For most Christians in the West, icons are intriguing but opaque, enigmatic and perhaps a little frightening. In an accessible and loving introduction to the ancient devotional art form, the late Martin, who studied art history at Oxford University, manages to make icons intelligible without denuding their mystery. Part reference work and part inspirational meditation, the book opens by sharing little-known characteristics of icons. Next she offers a helpful chronology, usefully chronicling the various periods of Byzantine art, and limning the history of Russian icons. One very concrete chapter catalogues the materials and techniques of icon-making, explaining the role of egg tempera and gesso in producing the often dark, matte pictures. The most eloquent and capacious chapter is that on prayer. Icons, Martin tells us, are not merely inspiring works of art, but are "made for the distinct purpose of prayer." Indeed, this chapter goes beyond instructions about icons to a moving meditation on prayer itself. The small but densely packed volume is rounded out by an appendix of international icon collections, and a helpful bibliography. Only occasionally does the book turn didactic and over-encyclopedic; chapters five and six, which define basics like "iconostasis" and "diptych," feel plodding. Martin's work, which nicely complements Henri Nouwen's classic reflection on icons, ought to become an indispensable part of any Christian library. (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557253071
  • Publisher: Paraclete Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2006
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 259
  • Sales rank: 822,461
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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