If we conceive of the Theophilus legend through the four scenes of the Ingeborg Psalter, we see the influence and foreshadowing of the miracles of the Virgin tradition. This image sequence, in four compartments, focuses respectively on his weakness, her power to intervene, her power over evil, and her generosity. It is, above all, the Virgin's story. But if we conceive of the legend more broadly, less as a unified or codified story than as a series of visual and textual responses to the anxiety of identity in thirteenth-century culture, we can understand it as a performance of the theological understanding of the imago – one individual's journey from dissemblance to resemblance. While there are many specific and varied iterations of this journey, such as the narrow focus on the Virgin in Ingeborg or the vast trajectory of the Gautier de Coinci version, the legend, broadly conceived, tells an incredibly compelling story that proposes a number of solutions to common problems of medieval identity. In the preceding chapters, I chose to treat the legend as a whole, not a unified or solitary whole, but as a series of parts connected to a large vision, because this broader perspective allows us to see the legend itself more clearly as an important contribution to medieval visual culture. We see it not just as a story of the power and intervention of the Virgin, or as a story of Theophilus's spectacular homage to the Devil, or as an allegorical fall into sin and evil, or as Theophilus's re-formation and return to his community. Instead we see the legend as responding to all these issues, linked through one individual's struggle to see himself through the dark glasses of a fallen world but with the help of the Virgin, the Church, the bishop and the Church community, and the positive actions that he himself could take to reform his deformed image of himself.
If, in theological terms, the trajectory of the whole legend is from dissemblance to resemblance, in literary and artistic terms many different positions and images fill out this gamut. It is worth pausing briefly over the “order” of these positions.