Origins of the Use of Icons

Most scholars admit that the concept of the icon pre-dates Christianity and probably originated with an ancient Egyptian funeral portrait.5 This is an example of the relatively common occurrence of the church borrowing from culture. “To develop its language, the Church used, as we have seen, form, symbols and even myths of antiquity, i.e., pagan forms of expression. But it did not use these forms without purifying them and adapting them to its own goals. Christianity absorbs everything that can serve as a form of expression from the world around it.”6