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The legends about the Mandylion and other acheiropoieta of Christ reveal their inspiration through metaphors of divine craftsmanship encountered in early Christian homilies. The parallels strongly suggest an allegorical meaning of these legends that points to the Incarnation of Christ, which is reinforced by the semantics of the objects’ materials – cloth and clay. This chapter demonstrates that possession of the Mandylion was of key significance for Byzantine claims to religious orthodoxy and superiority, in keeping with the Byzantines’ self-perception as the New Israel, God’s Chosen People.
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