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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

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(Lat. imago, perhaps from the same root as imitari, copy, imitate), in general, a copy, representation, exact counterpart of something else. Thus the reflection of a person in a mirror is known as his "image"; in popular usage one person is similarly described as "the very image" of another; so in entomology the term is applied in its Latin form imago to an insect which, having passed through its larval stages, has achieved its full typical development. The term is in fact susceptible of two opposite connotations; on the one hand, it implies that the thing to which it is applied is only a copy; on the other that as a copy it is faithful and accurate.

Psychology recognizes two uses of the term. The simplest is for the impression made by an observed object on the retina, the eye; in this connexion the term "after-image" (better "after-sensation") is used for an image which remains when the eye is withdrawn from a brilliantly lighted object; it is called positive when the colour remains the same, negative when the complementary colours are seen. The strict psychological use of the term "image" is by analogy from the physiological for a purely mental idea which is taken as being observed by the eye of the mind. These images are created or produced not by an external stimulus, such as is necessary for a visual image (even the after-image is due to the continued excitement of the same organ), but by a mental act of reproduction. The simplest ideational image, which has been described as the primary memory-image, is "the peculiarly vivid and definite ideal representation of an object which we can maintain or recall by a suitable effort of attention immediately after perceiving it" (Stout). For this no external stimulus is required, and as compared with the after-image it represents the objects in perspective just as they might be seen in perception. This is characteristic of all mental images. The essential requisite for this primary image is that the attention should have been fixed upon the impressions.

The relation between. sense-impressions and mental images is a highly complicated one. Difference in intensity is not a wholly satisfactory ground of distinction; abnormal physical conditions apart, an image may have an intensity far greater than that of a sense-given impression. On the other hand, Hume is certainly right in holding that the distinctive character of a percept as compared with an image is in all ordinary cases the force and liveliness with which it strikes the mind - the distinction, therefore, being one of quality, not of degree. A distinction of some importance is found in. the "superior steadiness" (Ward) of impressions; while looking at any set of surroundings, images of many different scenes may pass through the mind, each one of which is immediately distinguished from the impression of the actual scene before the eyes. This arises partly, no doubt, from the fact that the perception has clear localization, which the image has not. In many cases indeed an image even of a most familiar scene is exceedingly vague and inaccurate.

In Art the term is used for a representation or likeness of an animate or inanimate object, particularly of the figure of a person in sculpture or painting. The most general application of the word is to such a representation when used as an object of religious worship or adoration, or as a decorative or architectural ornament in places of religious worship. The worship of images, or idolatry, from the point of view of comparative religion, is treated in the article Image-Worship, and the history of the attitude of the Christian church, outside the post-Reformation church of England, towards the use of images as objects of worship and religion in the article Iconoclasts. With regard to the Pre-Reformation period in England, it is of interest to note that by the constitutions of Archbishop Winchelsey, 1305, it was the duty of the parish to provide for the parish church, among other objects, the images of Christ on the Cross, of the saint to whom the church was dedicated, to be placed in the chancel, and of other saints. The injunctions of Edward VI., 1 547, ordered the destruction of all images that ha.d been the objects of superstitious use, and the act of 1 549 (3 & 4 Edw. VI. c. ro) declared all such images illegal. This act, repealed in Mary's reign, was revived in 1604 (r James I. c. 25) and is still in force. The present effect of this unrepealed act, as stated in Boyd v. Philpotts (L.R. 6 P.C. 449), is that it only referred to the images then subject to abuse, which had been ordered to be removed, and did not refer,to the subsequent use or abuse of other images. In Article XXII. of the Articles of Religion it is laid down that "the Romish Doctrine concerning. .. Worshipping and Adoration as well of Images as of Reliques. .. is a fond thing mainly invented and grounded on no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God." The law in regard to images, which in this connexion include pictures and stained-glass windows, but not sculptured effigies on monuments or merely ornamental work, is contained in various judicial decisions, and is not defined by statute. The effect of these decisions is thus summarized in the report of the Royal Commission on Ecclesiastical Discipline, 1906: "Such images are lawful as objects of decoration in a church, but are unlawful if they are made, or are in danger of being made, objects of superstitious reverence, contrary to Article XXII. against the worshipping and adoration of images. In accordance with this view, crosses, if not placed on the Holy Table, and also crucifixes, if part only of a sculptured design or architectural decoration, have been declared lawful. The question whether a crucifix or rood standing alone or combined with figures of the Blessed Virgin and St John can, in any circumstances, be regarded as merely decorative, has given rise to a difference of judicial opinion and appears to be unsettled." Speaking generally, articles of decoration and embellishment not used in the services cannot lawfully be introduced into a church without the consent of the ordinary given by a faculty, the granting of which is subject to the judicial discretion of the chancellor or commissary, sitting as judge of the bishop's court.

By section 8 of the Public Worship Regulation Act 1874, complainants may take proceedings if it is considered that "any alteration in, or addition to, the fabric, ornaments or furniture has been made without legal authority, or that any decoration forbidden by law has been introduced into such church. .. provided that no proceedings shall be taken ... if such alteration or addition has been completed five years before the commencement of such proceedings." The following are the principal cases on the subject: in Boyd v. Philpotts, 1874 (L.R., 4 Ad. & Ec. 297; 6 P.C. 435), the Exeter reredos case, the privy council, reversing the bishop's judgment, allowed the structure, which contained sculptures in high relief of the Ascension, Transfiguration and Descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, together with a cross and angels; in R. v. the Bishop of London, 1889 (23 Q.B.D. 414, 24 Q.B.D. 213), the St Paul's reredos case, the bishop refused further proceedings against the legality of a structure containing sculptured figures of Christ on the Cross and the Virgin and Child. In Clifton v. Ridsdale, 1876 (1 P. & D., 316), a metal crucifix on the centre of the chancel screen was declared illegal as being in danger of being used superstitiously, and in the same case pictures or rather coloured reliefs representing the "Stations of the Cross" were ordered to be removed on the ground that they had been erected without a faculty, and were also considered unlawful by Lord Penzance as connected with certain superstitious devotion authorized by the Roman church.

Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Image'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​bri/​i/image.html. 1910.
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