Orthodox Resurrection icon

Who Is Depicted in the Orthodox Resurrection Icon: Characters Analysis

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fundamental cornerstone of Christianity. It is a demonstration that He is indeed the powerful Son of God and Messiah who conquered death. Not only is it about the holy identity of Jesus, but it is also about the reconciliation with God and major turning point in the New Testament. Its cardinal importance explains why so much attention was paid to the representation of the resurrection scene in iconography. Truth be told, there is a large variety of icons devoted to this particular subject, and yet most of them have something in common – characters. Below you will find the list of the figures that usually appear in the Orthodox Resurrection icon.

Who is depicted in the Orthodox Resurrection icon: characters analysis


Jesus Christ is a key figure of the icon. Standing in the center of the scene, He grasps the hands of Adam and Eve and pulls them from a tomb. It signifies the fact that His victory redeems all humankind. In some versions, Christ’s robe and figure are dynamic, which means that the Savior descents from Heaven to Hades to save those who died in the flesh. That is why the icon is also called the Harrowing of Hades.

Adam and Eve

Pulled by Jesus by their hands, Adam and Eve symbolize the human race, as they are the first human beings God created. Besides, every Orthodox Resurrection icon depicts Adam and Eve as old individuals, which is probably one of the methods to point out a sign of the time.


In the icon, Jesus Christ stands on the gates of Hades, represented by two golden bars of iron. It is the very depiction of the moment of freedom because all the dead become free of imprisonment. Sometimes, you can see a chained skeletal figure beneath Christ: that is Satan and/or Death. According to the Bible, he was bound and killed by Jesus.

Other characters

The number of additional characters and entities may change from icon to icon. Some of the most common figures include King David, King Solomon, John the Baptist, three young men, the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and others. The conceptual and stylistic difference is especially felt if you compare the Orthodox Resurrection icon with the versions created by the Western icon painters.

Once you know more about the characters of the Orthodox Resurrection icon, you can better understand its meaning. It also gives you the necessary knowledge to analyze the hidden and visible symbolism of the icon.