Elina N. Dobrynina
On the Developing Iconography of the Ascent of the Prophet Elijah: Inscriptions to Miniatures and Text Commentaries in Manuscripts of the Ninth to...
On the Developing Iconography of the Ascent of the Prophet Elijah: Inscriptions to Miniatures and Text Commentaries in Manuscripts of the Ninth to Thirteenth Centuries / Peter Landesmann’s important treatise Die Himmelfahrt des Elija systematises the written and pictorial sources of iconography for the Ascent of the Prophet Elijah. Since Landesmann concentrates his attention on artistic monuments up to and including the fifth century AD, and on written sources describing that stage in development of this iconography, his research does not extend to its further evolution. Leslie Brubaker examines the particularities of ninth-century miniatures depicting the Ascent of the Prophet Elijah in her book Vision and Meaning in Ninth-Century Byzantium: Image as Exegesis in the Homilies of Gregory of Nazianzus, ascribing all the images to a single biblical source –4 Kings 2: 11–13. Consequently scholars have so far disregarded the fact that most scenes portraying the Ascent from the fifth century onwards belong to one of two variants: one shows an area of empty space between the Prophets Elijah and Elisha, and in the other both figures are contiguous – their hands hold the mantle which forms the obvious centre of the composition. The paper examines additional sources on the given topic, specifically the inscriptions to miniatures or the corresponding places in illustrated texts. In result it reaches to the conclusion that the two iconographic variants come from a common biblical source, but represent events described in different verses of 4 Kings 2: the first, the most ancient version, from verses 11 to 13; the second variant, based on the first, from verses 9 to 10. In the examples mentioned here the shift of emphasis from one event to another (from the Ascent of Elijah to his proffering the mantle to Elisha) is expressed by both pictorial and written means.Subject(s): Literary Texts // Medieval iconography // The Ascent of the Prophet Elijah // Text commentaries //Keywords: