This paper asks how images came to be regarded as having miraculous power in the centuries before Iconoclasm. It argues that by the fifth century, the miraculous power of relics was intimately connected with their materiality, specifically the belief that relics were imbued with power by contact with a saint. Given this paradigm, images suffered from a lack; if images are representations of saints and not matter touched by them, they should lack the power of relics. Over the course of the sixth and seventh centuries, this apparent lack was overcome by reconceiving images. Rather than simply identifying images with representation, they were understood as material objects in their own right. Understanding images as holy matter rather than representations alone helped usher images into practices of veneration and supplication in the sixth and seventh centuries.


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pp. 111-138
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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