The Mystical Language of Icons by Solrunn Ness

Prayer Category


Publisher: William B. Eerdmans 2004

This book introduces us to icons and how their motifs and visual symbolism can help us meditate on the Divinity of Christ. It tells about and illustrates the painstaking step-by-step techniques that artists use to create icons and explains the “conventions” of the details of each painting that convey specific spiritual truth.

Icons are highly stylized religious artworks produced by the Orthodox church. In the Orthodox church, icons are considered teaching vehicles, hence they have canonical status. It shows visually what the Church teaches verbally and the painters are subject to church discipline. Once educated on the icon symbolism, we can use icons as “windows to God” to meditate on the nature of Christ and God. For instance, Christ Pantocrator shows Jesus holding a book of scriptures in his left hand and making a sign of blessing with his left. The word Pantokrator in Greek is used in Revelations to mean the abiding or the one who is and it is translated as the Ruler of All or the Almighty.
This book allows us to explore how icons can be used for meditation in the same way written Scriptures are used.


This was a subject I knew very little about until getting this book. I became very interested in icons and purchased several on a trip to Romania. I have them in my office where they help me meditate on the Divinity of Christ.

Added by Karen Barber on June 12, 2011