The depiction is standardized throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond, almost always called “Christ Pantocrator.” The word “pantocrator” means “ruler of all,” which carries the connotation of the Old Testament Yahweh, the fierce god of Deuteronomy who commands his people to slaughter their enemies, take their women, and destroy their cities. The image of Pantocrator attempts to reconcile the power of Yahweh with the humanity of Jesus, but who will gauge the image a success in that regard? Can they be reconciled?
Orthodox Christian spirituality, which names and depicts this fearsome image, maintains nevertheless the possibility of “divinizing” the self, something the West has never dared to consider or to even propose in its vocabulary. Perhaps we begin to divinize ourselves by reconciling ourselves to the unreconcilable contradiction of the Jesus of the theologians. He did not want to be a king but in this image he is forced to wear the terrifying cloak of Pantocrator.