This unit examines the theology expressed in the devotional use of icons and their liturgical use in the Eastern Christian tradition. Emphasis will be given to the sacramental nature of the icon as expressive of the mystery of the Incarnation of Christ and of the holiness of creation redeemed and transfigured in Christ.

The unit explores the origin and meaning of the icon and its development in early Christian art. It considers the Iconoclast Controversy and the key arguments by John Damascene in his incarnational theological defence of icons. The icon as an expression of the theology and faith of the Christian East is examined in the context of the theological interpretation of icons of Christ, particular feasts, Mary the Mother of God and other specific saints. Several of the great works of iconography and Western religious art will be compared.

The unit considers role of icons in the liturgy and personal prayer.

Unit Code: DL9105C

Points: 24.0

Unit Level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit Discipline: Liturgy

Delivery Mode: Face to Face

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning Outcomes


Articulate an advanced knowledge of the origin, symbolism and meaning of the icon and its development in early Christian art.


Explain and elaborate on the significance of the Byzantine iconoclast controversy and the arguments by John Damascene in his theological defence of icons.


Examine and critically discuss the theological content of specific iconographic themes.


Analyse the similarities, differences and complementarity of iconography and religious artistic expressions in the Christian West.


Appraise the significance and role of icons in both liturgical and private prayer.


Undertake research concerning the theology and the liturgical use of icons in a critically rigorous and self-directed manner.

Unit sequence

CT8010C, CT9201C are recommended.


Lectures and individual and group learning activities.


Type Description Wordcount Weight (%)

Short Paper 1,000 words

1000 15.0

Short Paper 1,500 words

1500 25.0


   3,500 words
3500 60.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 19 Oct, 2017

Unit Record last updated: 2019-05-27 13:48:39 +1000