Prior to the age of iconoclasm, as defined above, a key influence in the practices surrounding icons was the Quinisext Council of 692CE. This council declared that images of Christ should be human, rather than non-human (a lamb for example).59 This ruling was based, to some degree, on the understanding that non- human symbols were necessary during times of persecution when the practices of Christianity were done in secret. In 692CE, secrecy was not necessary. The council ordered that symbols from the Old Testament be changed to actual representations – actual people rather than symbols.60 In addition, it was decreed that no paintings “corrupted by shameful pleasures” be allowed in Christian worship.61 This was probably a reaction to some pagan practices of the time, for example, the bacchus feast.62 The Pope refused to sign the documents coming out of this council because he perceived error.
57 Gennadios Limouris, [Sabev]. Icons, Windows on Eternity: Theology and Spirituality in Colour. (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1990), p. 49.
58 Ibid, p. 46.
59 Ouspensky, 1992, p. 92.
60 Ibid, p. 92.
61 Zibawi, 1993, p. 91.
62 Ouspensky, 1992, p. 98.
This represented continuing conflict between the Eastern churches and Rome. The West has never accepted the decisions of the Quinisext council, however, they are central to the Orthodox tradition.63
In 726CE, Leo III provoked the iconoclastic controversy with an edict that prohibited icons.64 Emperor Constantine V (741-75CE) son of Leo III, a theologian, persecuted those who venerated icons, convened Iconoclastic Hieria Council of 754CE.65 This council condemned even the possession of icons.66 A great deal of persecution followed this ruling but the environment also encouraged the development of the theology and defense of icons. This lead to the Seventh Ecumenical Council.