Rebengiuc Tudor

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UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATIDate: 17-Aug-2010 I, Tudor Rebengiuc hereby submit this original work as part of the requirements for the degree of: ,

Master of Science in Architecturein

Architecture

It is entitled:

The Nature of Language in Orthodox Church Architecture: A Hermeneutical Approach

Student Signature:

Tudor Rebengiuc

This work and its defense approved by: Committee Chair:John Eliot Hancock, MARCHJohn Eliot Hancock, MARCH

David Saile, PhDDavid Saile, PhD

8/18/2010

1,070

The Nature of Language in Orthodox Church ArchitectureA Hermeneutical Approach

A Thesis submitted to the Division of Research and Advanced Studies of the University of Cincinnati

In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

MASTER of SCIENCE in ARCHITECTURE

In the School of Architecture and Interior Design of the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning 2010 by

Tudor RebengiucBachelor of Architecture, Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urban Planning, Bucharest, Romania, 2000

Committee Members: John E. Hancock (Chair) David G. Saile

THE NATURE OF LANGUAGE IN ORTHODOX CHURCH ARCHITECTURE

AbstractIn places like Romania, despite massive post-communist building activity, the current practice of Orthodox Church architecture does not match the quality of its predecessors. This paper locates the source of these difficulties within the intricate historical legacy of the interaction between its Byzantine origins and its modern interpretations. As part of the liturgical arts of the Orthodox Church, the understanding of Orthodox Church architecture is linked with that of the icon, central to Orthodoxy. This study will not only offer an insight into the importance of iconic language but will attempt to reveal the particular nature of language as implied in the Orthodox Church tradition.

The array of present interpretations of the icon and of the Orthodox Church architecture is dependent to a large extent on a modern, instrumental understanding of language, basic to western metaphysics, and prevalent in the education system at all levels. Conceived of in an instrumental way, as a mere tool, the icon loses its original meaning and makes the understanding and practice of all liturgical arts of lesser value. In order to address this challenging situation we need to part from any modern interpretation of this building tradition and to focus instead on the nature of interpretation and above all on language itself.

We can gain a better understanding of the iconic language of the Orthodox Church by drawing on the hermeneutics of Hans Georg Gadamer. Hermeneutics questions the philosophy of

Abstract iii

THE NATURE OF LANGUAGE IN ORTHODOX CHURCH ARCHITECTURE

language, the nature of historical understanding and the roots of interpretation. Hermeneutics provides the opportunity to grasp the icon on its own terms, while using a method true to its nature, bypassing the instrumental framework of western metaphysics, and restoring the basis on which liturgical arts can attain their full potential once again. A hermeneutical insight into the iconic language of the Orthodox Church will enrich our horizon of Orthodox liturgical arts, serving those who want to research, critique, restore, maintain, design, and build this type of architecture.

KeywordsOrthodox Church Architecture, Byzantium, Hans-Georg Gadamer, hermeneutics, language, sign, symbol, icon, liturgical arts

Abstract iv

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THE NATURE OF LANGUAGE IN ORTHODOX CHURCH ARCHITECTURE

DedicationTo my wife, Viorica

Dedication vi

THE NATURE OF LANGUAGE IN ORTHODOX CHURCH ARCHITECTURE

Acknowledgement

I would like to thank all my professors at the University of Cincinnati, especially to John E. Hancock and James Bradford. It is their passion for thinking about architecture that Ive tried to emulate in this thesis. I am grateful to Professor David Saile for his mentoring over the years I have been in the MS Arch program. To Ellen Guerrettaz for the help she provided when I most needed it. To my wife Viorica Popescu, who has convinced me to write and without whose love, help and support I would be lost. To my father and mother, who have given me the freedom to find my own path in life, and who are always there for me. And finally to my mentor, painter Paul Gherasim, who believes silence is better.

Preface viii

THE NATURE OF LANGUAGE IN ORTHODOX CHURCH ARCHITECTURE

Table of ContentsAbstract ________________________________________________________ iii Keywords ______________________________________________________ iv Dedication _____________________________________________________ vi Acknowledgement _____________________________________________ viii Table of Contents _______________________________________________ ix Table of Figures _________________________________________________ xi 1 Introduction ___________________________________________________ 11.1 Problem Statement____________________________________________________________ 2 1.2 Background __________________________________________________________________ 4 1.3 Research objectives scope and limitations ______________________________________ 8 1.4 Thematic Structuring _________________________________________________________ 11

2 The Iconic Language ___________________________________________ 132.1 The Key Role of Language in the Elucidation of the Icon _________________________ 14 2.2 The nature of language _______________________________________________________ 16 2.3 The Concepts of Sign, Symbol and Image ______________________________________ 32 2.4 The Iconic Language _________________________________________________________ 46

3 The Hermeneutics of Orthodox Church Architecture ______________ 523.1 The Church as an Icon ________________________________________________________ 53 3.2 The Theological Concept of Incarnation ________________________________________ 57

Conclusion- Tradition as Ongoing Conversation ____________________ 64 Bibliography ___________________________________________________ 67

Table of Contents ix

THE NATURE OF LANGUAGE IN ORTHODOX CHURCH ARCHITECTURE

Table of Figures

Page 1: Figure 1 Interior of Stavropoleos Church, Source: Author, Bucharest, Romania, 2009.

Page 15: Figure 2 Iconostasis of Stavropoleos Church, Source: Author, Bucharest, Romania, 2009.

Page 29: Figure 3 Stavropoleos Church, Source: Author, Bucharest, Romania, 2009.

Page 35: Figure 4 Interior of Stavropoleos Church, Source: Author, Bucharest, Romania, 2009.

Table of Figures xi

THE NATURE OF LANGUAGE IN ORTHODOX CHURCH ARCHITECTURE

And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.

Luke 9:33, King James Bible

xii

THE NATURE OF LANGUAGE IN ORTHODOX CHURCH ARCHITECTURE

1

Introduction

Figure 1- Interior of Stavropoleos Church, Bucharest, Romania, 2009

Introduction 1

THE NATURE OF LANGUAGE IN ORTHODOX CHURCH ARCHITECTURE

1.1

Problem Statement

If the well-known Hagia Sophia (the church of Holy Wisdom) in modern Istanbul, and Byzantine architecture in general, have elicited words as Heaven on earth 1 or Monuments of unageing intellect 2, the Post-Byzantine building tradition of Orthodox Churches is largely ignored and considered to have no theoretical impact or practical significance on the contemporary architectural environment. Following the resurgence of the institutions and practices of the Orthodox Church after the fall of communism, many new places of worship are getting designed and built in Eastern Europe without the benefit of theoretical surveys. Over two thousand projects for orthodox churches, cathedrals, monasteries, and chapels have been initiated in Romania alone, but, despite this massive design initiative, comparatively little literature has been created on the topic. The situation where only a handful of these projects were deemed as acceptable by the National Commission for Approving Religious Architecture constitutes strong evidence of what the lack of meaningful contemporary interpretations of this building tradition has led to.

Safran, Linda (ed.). Heaven on Earth: Art and the Church in Byzantium. Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998. 2 Yeats, B. W. Sailing to Byzantium. In The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats. Scribner Paperback Poetry, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1996.1

Introduction 2

THE NATURE OF LANGUAGE IN ORTHODOX CHURCH ARCHITECTURE

The current situation is markedly different from the one during the Byzantine Empire, when church architecture benefited from a context that allowed it to flourish. Byzantine Architecture was not merely sharing its name and its historical age with the Byzantine Empire but an entire cultural ethos, more of a world philosophy. The demise of the Eastern Roman Empire represented for the tradition of Byzantine architecture and, later, of Orthodox Church Architecture, the annihilation of its cultural foundation and caused it to ramble across centuries. This has been further aggravated by the political situation of the Eastern European countries within the last century, the prevalence of communism with its prohibitive state policy regarding religion and religious architecture. At present, Orthodox Church architecture strives to exist in a world with different conceptual roots and, in this struggle to adapt, it borrows concepts that fail to express its spirituality. This thesis aims t