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Windows to Heaven: Introducing Icons to Protestants and Catholics [Paperback]

By Elizabeth Zelensky (Author) & Lela Gilbert (Author)
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Item description for Windows to Heaven: Introducing Icons to Protestants and Catholics by Elizabeth Zelensky & Lela Gilbert...

In this useful guidebook, the authors debunk common misconceptions about Orthodox icons and explain how they might enrich the devotional lives of non-Orthodox Christians.

Publishers Description
Evangelicals often feel uneasy when they encounter the haunting images of Orthodox icons. From the theological to the practical, questions flood in: Why are the facial expressions so fixed? Why the colorful robes? What do the images symbolize? Do Orthodox Christians worship icons? Doesn't that make them idols?
In this useful guidebook, Elizabeth Zelensky and Lela Gilbert debunk common misconceptions about Orthodox icons and explain how they might enrich the devotional lives of non-Orthodox Christians. Each chapter opens with biblical passages and engaging anecdotes and closes with excerpts from personal journals. The authors offer a detailed look at five specific icons, discussing the importance of the incarnation, the Trinity, and Christ's transfiguration to the Orthodox faith.
This approachable and engaging guide is perfect for those seeking to deepen or refresh their devotional lives.

From Publishers Weekly
In recent years, Protestants have discovered icons, once the provenance of Eastern Orthodox churches. Zelensky (a historian of Russia) and Gilbert (a prolific writer/ghostwriter) team up to introduce Eastern icons to Western Christians. The authors open with a lucid discussion of what an icon is-and is not. It is not merely a work of art depicting the life of Jesus; it is a way of entering into relationship with the Triune God, "an instrument through which the knowledge of God... becomes accessible" to humanity. The heart of the book is a reading of five famous icons, including Andrei Rublev's icon of the Holy Trinity. Readers will learn about the history of these icons, their "writers" (creators), symbolism and place in Orthodox theology and liturgy. Six glossy illustrations round out the book. One wishes that the authors had refrained from straying occasionally into large philosophical debates, such as the issue of relativism versus objective reality; their forays into these quagmires are superficial and distracting. Still, the book is a feast; its authors compellingly suggest that icons offer a much-needed space for contemplation in a frenetic world. Indeed, this little book is itself such an oasis. Readers who like Frederica Mathewes-Green and Henri Nouwen will welcome this new addition to the icon shelf. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Windows to Heaven: Introducing Icons to Protestants and Catholics by Elizabeth Zelensky & Lela Gilbert has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Publishers Weekly - 12/13/2004 page 62
  • Ingram Advance - 02/01/2005 page 98

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Brazos Press
Pages   136
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.5" Width: 6.38" Height: 0.4"
Weight:   0.49 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 2005
Publisher   Brazos Press
ISBN  1587431092  
ISBN13  9781587431098  

Availability  0 units.

More About Elizabeth Zelensky & Lela Gilbert

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Elizabeth Zelensky, a Russian Orthodox believer, lectures in history at Georgetown University.

Lela Gilbert has written and coauthored numerous books, including Islam at the Crossroads and Their Blood Cries Out.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Art > Religious
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Orthodoxy
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Spiritual Growth > Spiritual Formation

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Reviews - What do customers think about Windows to Heaven: Introducing Icons to Protestants and Catholics?

popular introduction to five famous icons  Jan 18, 2007
If you have ever worshipped at an Orthodox church, especially an older one, the aesthetic nature of the experience impresses one as so different from the Catholic and Protestant counterparts. Icons epitomize this Orthodox predilection for sight and sound, as opposed to written texts, as the vehicle of the Gospel. They are "theology in color." Icons are also one of the biggest points of contention between Orthodox and non-Orthodox believers. This little book combines Scripture, personal journaling, history, theology, art and liturgy to portray in a sympathetic way the nature and function of icons in Orthodoxy. The authors try to show how from an Orthodox perspective icons are not merely church art but a means of moving from the material to the spiritual world, and how such a movement can enrich the Christian lives of Protestants and Catholics. In between introductory and concluding chapters, the bulk of the book devotes one chapter each to five important Orthodox icons--Rublev's icon of the Holy Trinity, the Vladimir Theotokos, Theophanes' Transfiguration of Christ, the Dormition of the Virgin, and the Sinai Pantocrator. This popular book is no substitute for the scholarly likes of Jaroslav Pelikan's Imago Dei: The Byzantine Apologia for Icons (1990) or Leonid Ouspensky's Theology of the Icon (1978), or for the short and very readable primary texts On Divine Images by John of Damascus (675-749) and On the Holy Icons by Theodore the Studite (759-826), but it is a welcome addition to the growing literature that introduces Protestants and Catholics to the Orthodox tradition in a non-polemical (if uncritical) manner.
Useful for anyone interested in five specific icons  Oct 18, 2005
WINDOWS TO HEAVEN: Introducing Icons to Protestants and Catholics is a collaboration between Elizabeth Zelensky, a Russian Orthodox lecturer of history, and Lela Gilbert, who appears to be a convert from Protestantism to Orthodoxy.

The subtitle doesn't really match the book. While it does try to communicate the truth of icon veneration to Protestants ("they aren't idols", etc.), this effort is very brief, no more than a couple of pages. Catholics hardly need an introduction to iconography, since it is part of their own tradition, but the authors could have clarified how the Orthodox Church rejects the innovation of statuary.

What the book does, however, is lay out the origin and symbolism of five common icons: Rublev's icon of the Trinity, the Vladimir Theotokos, Theophanes' icon of the Transfiguation, the Dormition of the Virgin (minus the "Jew trying to profane the Virgin" addition), and the Sinai Pantocrator. Hence the book will be of great interest to not just Protestant or Catholic inquirers, but anyone interested in iconography, even Orthodox themselves.

The writing is somewhat odd. On one hand, the work has meticulous footnoting as if it were an academic work, but Gilbert's "personal stories" are sappy and amateurish. The work doesn't follow the usual post-Soviet standards in writing also "Kiev" instead of the preferred "Kyiv", and the typesetting leaves much to be desired.

Nonetheless, if the five icons discussed in the book dazzle you and you would like to understand them better, WINDOWS TO HEAVEN is worth reading.
Nicely Written with Poise and Heart  Sep 15, 2005
Once in awhile, a book is produced that is unpretentious in its thesis, gentle in its handling of the source, and appropriately communicating the heart of its message with respect to all parties.

"Windows to Heaven: Introducing Icons to Protestants and Catholics" is such a book. Written by Zelensky, an Orthodox Christian and Gilbert, a Protestant, this book seeks to teach non-Orthodox Christians about the importance of icon traditions. They explain what an icon is and is not, dispelling myths held by many Protestants. The book does more than just to educate about the difference, but provide information on how Protestants can appreciate icons as well.

Many Catholics will find the material familiar, but Zelensky does bring a more Eastern approach that many Catholics may appreciate: nice, inexpensive and rewarding book.

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