The (Other) Problem with Pictures of God

Visual representations of the Trinity are incredibly problematic, write Amos Yong and Jonathan Anderson in Renewing Christian Theology. How do you picture a three-in-one God? Rublev's famous icon has three figures, but no oneness; other pictures have one figure, but no threeness; and some attempt to bring three persons into one royal figure, with one robe, one throne, one crown and one (interestingly cruciform) halo, but the end result is just very bizarre. They conclude:

It is possible that the entire project of visibly representing the Trinity is inherently and hopelessly problematic, given that visual forms are generally mutually exclusive: three forms cannot occupy the very same space without displacing or deforming one another. For this reason, visual conceptions of the Trinity are able to emphasise the three-ness of God but have great difficulty emphasising the three-in-oneness of God. Jeremy Begbie has argued that perhaps musical space is more conducive to artistically understanding Trinitarian doctrine—or is at least a helpful supplement—because in sonic space three sounds can remain wholly distinct and yet entirely mutually indwell one another in a single sound, as in the case of a musical chord.

Indeed. And if that doesn’t convince you, I guess there’s always the second commandment.

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