Orthodox icon | Holy New Testament Trinity | 24767.
The term “trinity” originates from the Greek word “trias,” meaning “a group of three,” and holds great importance in Christian theology. It represents the indivisible unity of God manifested as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, expressing distinct identities while maintaining unbreakable unity.
The “New Testament Trinity” prominently features the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with Greek origins and possible Western influence. The Council of Chalcedon in 451 and the 1st Council of Nicaea in 325 shaped the Christian faith with “symbola” or formulas of faith articulated in the creed, affirming the divinity of the Holy Spirit and the Son’s nature.
Though not explicitly presented in the Holy Scriptures, significant triadic formulas exist, like Christ’s directive to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt 28, 19).
The Trinity icon, inspired by the New Testament (Luke 22:69, Mark 16:19), features Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit as a dove. Above are a seraph and below a cherub, with symbols of the evangelists: winged man (Matthew), lion (Mark), bull (Luke), and eagle (John).
Adjacent to them are the Mother of God and Saint John the forerunner, surrounded by archangels and angels. Above, Holy archangel Seraphiel and angelic choirs; in the corners, Holy archangel Jehudiel and Barachiel. Beside the Mother of God, Holy Archangel Raphael, and next to John, Holy Archangel Uriel.
Below are the Guardian Angel, Holy Archangel Michael, and Holy Archangel Gabriel. The backdrop is gilded.
The depiction of God the Father
Depicting God the Father in Orthodox icons is a contentious issue due to theological and doctrinal considerations. This arises from apophatic theology, stating that God’s essence is unknowable, making concrete depictions limiting. The Second Commandment’s prohibition of graven images further complicates the matter.
Eastern Orthodox tradition generally avoids depicting God the Father in human form, respecting His unknowable nature. However, some exceptions exist, like in Andrei Rublev’s Holy Trinity icon, where the Father is symbolically represented as one of the angels who visited Abraham.
On the contrary, Jesus Christ, being God incarnate, is frequently depicted in Orthodox icons, while the Holy Spirit is symbolically shown as a dove or tongues of fire. This icon shows a western influence.