A Companion to Byzantine Iconoclasm


Few subjects have generated more argument in early medieval, Byzantine, and Orthodox history than Iconoclasm. Supposedly for more than a century the Orthodox Church and Byzantium were wracked by controversy over religious figural imagery, culminating in 843 in the establishment of icon veneration as a fundamental Orthodox practice. In this multidisciplinary Companion to Byzantine Iconoclasm, twelve contributors set the controversy in context and critically examine the key debates: what was the argument about? How much destruction and persecution were there? What caused and fuelled the controversy? What links, if any, were there to events in the Islamic Caliphate and the Latin West? And how can we use our contested literary and material sources to offer answers to these questions?

Contributors: Benjamin Anderson, Marie-France Auzépy, Sabine Feist, Mike Humphreys, Robin M. Jensen, Dirk Krausmüller, Andrew Louth, Ken Parry, Richard Price, Christian C. Sahner, and Jesse W. Torgerson.

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Mike Humphreys, Ph.D. (2012, University of Cambridge) is a researcher and lecturer at that university. He has published widely on Byzantine history, including Law, Power, and Imperial Ideology in the Iconoclast Era, c.680–850 (OUP: 2015).
List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Notes on Contributors

Contexts, Controversies, and Developing Perspectives
  Mike Humphreys

Images before Iconoclasm

1 Figural Images in Christian Thought and Practice before ca. 500
  Robin M. Jensen

2 Images in Byzantine Thought and Practice ca. 500–700
  Benjamin Anderson

The Sources

3 Chronicles, Histories, and Letters
  Jesse W. Torgerson and Mike Humphreys

4 Acta, Treatises, and Hagiography
  Richard Price

5 Material Culture
  Sabine Feist

Byzantine Iconoclasm in Action

6 First Iconoclasm, ca. 700–80
  Mike Humphreys

7 The Iconophile Intermission and Second Iconoclasm, 780–843
  Marie-France Auzépy

The Theology of Byzantine Iconoclasm

8 The Theological Argument about Images in the 8th Century
  Andrew Louth

9 The Theological Argument about Images in the 9th Century
  Ken Parry

10 The Problem of the Holy
Iconoclasm, Saints, Relics, and Monks
  Dirk Krasmüller

Iconoclasm East and West

11 Images and Iconoclasm in Islam, ca. 600–850
  Christian C. Sahner

12 Iconoclasm, Images, and the West
  Thomas F. X. Noble


Everyone interested in Byzantium, Orthodox Christianity, and the Early Middle Ages, and anyone concerned with the history and theology of religious imagery and its use in religious practice. Keywords: icons, iconoclasm, orthodoxy, Byzantium, Christian art history, theology of art, Islam and images.
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