The Synod of Elvira in 4th Century Prohibited Images

Discussion in 'Church History' started by Stalwart, Jul 3, 2019.

  1. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,092
    Likes Received:
    939
    Country:
    America
    Religion:
    Anglican
    I wonder why this historic fact does not figure more into the discussion of images? I have only recently learned about it, and it fits the outlines of Patristic doctrine on images we can glean from other sources, such as St Epiphanius and St Augustine, who were emphatically against the use of images in a Divine Service.
     
  2. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Member

    Posts:
    56
    Likes Received:
    12
    Religion:
    Methodist
    What do you mean by prohibited images in Divine Service? Do you. mean churches could not have paintings or statues or what?
     
  3. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,092
    Likes Received:
    939
    Country:
    America
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Right. Here is the CCEL reference for the synod/council of Elvira (dated to around 306 AD):
    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/hcc2.v.vi.xv.html

    And here is what it states:
    (Latin): "Placuit picturas in ecclesia esse non debere, ne quod colitur et adoratur in parietibus depingatur."

    "There shall be no pictures in the church, lest what is worshipped and adored should be depicted on the walls."


    It follows, therefore, that the Anglican Church follows the pristine faith of the Fathers, and both the Roman and the (Byzantine) eastern Orthodox depart from the faith on this matter.
     
  4. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Member

    Posts:
    56
    Likes Received:
    12
    Religion:
    Methodist
    The Council of Elvira was only for Spain and it region. It had no powers outside of that region. I am not sure that it speaks authoritatively and it points towards pictures being common, or else why would they single it out, and unless I can find some other sources that speak like that I don't see how this proves anything other than a snap shot in one regions history.
     
  5. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    713
    Likes Received:
    653
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    High-Church Laudian
    I would agree that no one council can define what the Church believes (other than an Ecumenical Council), and I think the historical evidence clearly shows that image veneration was an innovation.

    St. John of Damascus' arguments notwithstanding, when we consider the Jewish roots of Christianity, the veneration of images is even more unusual. It was obviously a concession to the pagan communities that Christianity took root in, just as the patron saints took the place of certain pagan deities.

    I love religious art for decorative, inspirational, and educational purposes, but I no longer reverence images since leaving the Orthodox Church. My salvation doesn't depend on it, one way or the other.
     
    Shaun and Stalwart like this.
  6. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,092
    Likes Received:
    939
    Country:
    America
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Oh I certainly wouldn't argue that it was on a level of Ecumenical Council and canonically binding on the whole church catholic.

    The only thing I was saying was that it adds to our portrait of the Patristic doctrine on images in divine worship, in that in some parts of the early church it even reached the level of local councils. So it's not just an impression that hangs on one statement from a St. Epiphanius, or from a St. Augustine any more, but a more broader wide-sweeping consensus.

    Not only did the Church of Spain embody this in her ancient canons, but the other Churches did not see it in any way disagreeable enough to record an objection. So this is at least a tacit approval even from the Fathers whose thoughts we don't have on the issue. They hear that a church council in Spain makes this declaration, and say hey, nothing here goes against my beliefs enough to really object to.
     
    Peteprint likes this.
  7. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Member

    Posts:
    56
    Likes Received:
    12
    Religion:
    Methodist
    Many of the canons were incorporated into other places but from what I read was that the prohibition on pictures were not never picked up anywhere else. It does add to our portrait and I thank you for bringing this council to my attention.
     
  8. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    947
    Likes Received:
    1,133
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synod_of_Elvira

    The dating of canon 33 may not be as simple as at first thought, as it may well be a later interpolation, perhaps in order to argue a case later as having some authority from earlier times.
     
  9. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,092
    Likes Received:
    939
    Country:
    America
    Religion:
    Anglican
    I think there is no question that after the Patristic era, the church Catholic began to deviate from the pristine faith, in some parts faster and in some parts slower. In the East, the patristic side was soundly defeated in the 2nd Council of Nicea. However in the West, the images were prohibited in worship as late as the 8th and 9th centuries and the 2nd Council of Nicea was not accepted as valid. Of course by the 11th century, the Bishop of Rome did endorse the 2nd Council as valid, and both halves of the church catholic firmly rejected the patristic doctrine, until the Reformation cleaned that up (not without its own issues obviously).
     
    Shaun likes this.
  10. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Member

    Posts:
    56
    Likes Received:
    12
    Religion:
    Methodist
    I was under the impression from my reading of Church History that the Pope always was in support pictures and was a big proponent of what the 2nd Council of Nicea proclaimed about them. I tend to accept all 7 Ecumenical Councils though
     

Share This Page