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Sacred Doorways: A Beginner's Guide to Icons Paperback – 30 Nov 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Paraclete Press; Reissue edition (30 Nov. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557253072
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557253071
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 13.9 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 641,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Linette Martin, a lifelong Anglican, is the author of several books, including Practical Praying. She studied Byzantine Art at Oxford University, England. After their children were grown, Linette and her husband lived in an oxfordshire village until her death in 1998.

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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Fr. Vladimir on 27 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
As an iconographer and Orthodox priestmonk, I was very excited to read Linette Martin's book, Sacred Doorways: A Beginner's Guide to Icons. From the reviews on the back, I was looking forward to a "fresh perspective". The excitement soon turned to dissatisfaction and dismay, and finally to disgust at how Martin presents icons, and truly how little knowledge of the theology, the symbolism and the use of icons in the Orthodox church she really has(or had, may she rest in peace). Mistakes abound throughout the book, from her description of Jesus's beaconing hand in the Raising of Lazarus icon to the statement that the angels in the Baptism of Christ icon are really holding towels to dry him off! The absurdity of it all is wrapped in cloying language, which borders on condescending towards the Orthodox world. What shocks me is that a Metropolitan of the Church wrote a glowing review on the back of the book: did he even read it? If any of you are looking for a book on icons that is accurate, do not look here. Find Vladimir Lossky and Leonid Ouspensky's The Meaning of Icons. It is at least written by a theologian(Lossky) and an iconographer(Ouspensky). As for Linette Martin's book: don't bother.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 14 reviews
133 of 135 people found the following review helpful
Making Icons More Than Just Pretty Pictures 26 Jan. 2003
By T. Avallone - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I've always liked icons but I never "got" them. They were pretty, but sacred? I didn't understand why anyone would think of them that way. Then in France I was privileged to hear a lecture by a real expert about the Bayeux Tapestry which, I know, is not an icon but stay with me please. As she went along explaining the tapestry she began to read the various scenes and say things like "Because he is holding his hands this way and facing here, you can tell he is lying." I quickly realized the the Bayeux Tapestry wasn't just a comic book-like depiction of the Invasion of 1066 it was a novel!! "Well now," I thought to myself, "what's in those icons I could never understand before?" I started looking for a book. Then, my misery at not understanding was made even worse when on the trip to the Soviet Union, I met a man who trusted me enough to show me the icons he had hidden from the Soviet authorities. I looked harder for a book. Over the years, I found lots of books with collections of icons. Scholarly works on a particular schools of work were also easy to find. But I could never find a book that could help someone like me who was raised a protestant and was hooked on the printed word for information, get beyond the surface of an icon. That is until I stumbled across THIS book.

This book is a first-rate introduction to all aspects of icons from their history, to their construction, to their spiritual significance. All of this context has helped add for me, the texture and meaning I always knew was there but I didn't know how to get to. I am still a novice and I may never break free of my addiction to getting information via the printed word, but I am starting to hear the voices of the artists who made (and continue to make) these sacred images.
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Understanding of Icons - Art & Religion 11 Jun. 2006
By Mr. Robert C. Bonds - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Linette Martin an Anglican artist has written a very good book for artists and a satisfactory book for those who are trying to understand icons from a religious perspective.

This is a very detailed art book which explains how the icon artists approached their work. Ms. Martin ties the art techniques of icons with what she believes are the religious view point of the icon painters.

If you are a searcher, one who is looking to convert to the Eastern Church, one who is trying to understand the mystical roles of icons in the religious life of Orthodox Christians, then this book will in my opinion not meet your needs.

This is not an easy read. I would say that this book is more of an advanced guide to icons, not a beginner's book, for one who is just starting to investigate Orthodox Christianity.

If you are an artist, trying to expand your knowledge of this religious art form, then I can highly recommend this work.
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Book delivers on a practical level 27 Mar. 2004
By Z. Lynch - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
To fully understand the Icon it is best if one is living in the same Tradition which created the Icon, that is Orthodoxy. Out side of Orthodoxy the Icon loses some of its deep roots, some of the mystical, which sets the icon in an "art" arena of it's own. For an icon is not meant to be viewed as "art," but as a window to heaven. Therefore the only proper place for the icon is in the Church.
The above said, the book "Sacred Doorways" is a very practical intro into the what, and why of Icons. It examines the practical physical side of the Icon...why is Christ holding his hand like that, what materials are Icons made with, and the like. Which is, indeed, needed to know so that one can begin to read the message and meaning of the Icon.
So the book is as it says "a beginner's guide to Icons," and is a nice launching pad for those looking for practical basic information on Icons. In this way the book does just what it says it will do, and that makes it a good book. Yet, it would be a shame for one to stop with this book, because the book does not delve the depth of the Icon in it's rich Orthodox spirituality. Then again it never promises to do so. The book is a good starting point, but it would be a shame to make it the start and end. It is none the less well written and easy to understand, a very pleasant read. The author is clearly very educated in the practical sense of Icons. For someone studying icons it is a good book for the library.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Decent reference book, but not satisfying on its own 2 Jan. 2006
By Hairy Lime - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Sacred Doorways is set up in different sections about icons, such as the history of icons, the materials used in icons, the symbols and visual languages in icons, etc. Unfortunately, the sections are written like a reference book, kind of choppy from one subject to the next, rather than someone talking to you about the subject.

For instance, the history section is basically an expanded timeline. Kinda like reading a history textbook. The materials section is in alphabetical order of the material. But some definitions include terms that are defined only later on in the section. So one definition refers to "gesso", which isn't defined until later in the section. Frustrating if you're reading the book from beginning to end.

The book does include a few color pictures of icons, but it doesn't talk about specific icon-makers. I've heard that Andrei Rublev was a great icon-maker; after reading this book, I still don't know why. I did, however, enjoy the section on what the hand formations and gestures in icons mean.

The book would have been better if it were written in a more flowing style. The final section (10 pages) about the theology of icons was written by the author's professor. It was good reading and was more what I was looking for in an introduction to icons.

Sacred Doorways would be useful as a reference if you're reading another icon book, but on it's own, it really isn't that fascinating.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The Perfect Beginner Guide 2 July 2009
By Maria - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I checked out 4 or 5 library texts on icons, and this one was by far the easiest to read, browse, and refer to. Martin writes in a straightforward way that is comprehensible to non-art students or those just starting out in the study of icons. Pleasurable enough for bedtime reading! I think the most interesting part was the large middle section with an alphabetized explanation of symbols and images.
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