During his ministry, Jesus expects people to recognize him. But no one has ever seen God before.
Most pictures we recognize because we’ve seen the original, the model, the person whose image we are seeing.
The word “recognize” implies an act of knowing again, re-knowing.
And Jesus expects people to recognize Him, that He is Yahweh, Israel’s God in the flesh.
But this implies that something other than a strict image parallel is at work. The Old Testament prohibited images of Israel’s God, and made a point to emphasize that they had not and could not see Him.
Jesus expects Israel to recognize Him not because they have seen Yahweh’s form before, but because they know Yahweh in other ways besides face to face. They are expected to have known Yahweh through His words, His actions, His stories.
This implies that there is something more fundamental to images than physical correspondence.
In that no iconodule believes that icons bear a photographic likeness at all to the person portrayed in the icon, you'll likely find very limited or no disagreement from Catholic and Orthodox Christians to this post. Of course, we're all pretty up front about this, which makes the tag to this post, once again, somewhat baffling.
A good primer on what iconodules actually believe about icons can be found in the broadly ecumenical reader "Theological Aesthetics," edited by Gesa Elsbeth Thiessen (2005).
Chalk this post/tag up to me not having a better tag… I don't have a general category for "icons" in general, so I figured I'd find it more easily here if need be.
Apologies for baffling, and thanks for the book rec.