Hymns, Homilies and Hermeneutics in Byzantium


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The essays in Hymns, Homilies and Hermeneutics explore the literature of Byzantine liturgical communities and provide a window into lived Christianity in this period. The liturgical performance of Christian hymns and sermons creatively engaged the faithful in biblical exegesis, invited them to experience theology in song, and shaped their identity. These sacred stories, affective scripts and salvific songs were the literature of a liturgical community – hymns and sermons were heard, and in some cases sung, by lay and monastic Christians throughout the life of Byzantium. In the field of Byzantine studies there is a growing appreciation of the importance of liturgical texts for understanding the many facets of Byzantine Christianity: we are in the midst of a liturgical turn. This book is a timely contribution to the emerging scholarship, illuminating the intersection between liturgical hymns, homiletics and hermeneutics.

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Sarah Gador-Whyte, Ph.D. (2011, University of Melbourne), is Research Fellow in Biblical and Early Christian Studies in the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry at the Australian Catholic University, Melbourne. She is the author of Theology and Poetry in Early Byzantium: The Kontakia of Romanos the Melodist (Cambridge, 2017). Andrew Mellas, Ph.D. (2018, University of Sydney), is Senior Lecturer in Byzantine History & Liturgical Studies at St Andrew's Theological College. He is the author of Liturgy and the Emotions in Byzantium: Compunction and Hymnody (Cambridge, 2020).
Notes on Contributors

Sarah Gador-Whyte and Andrew Mellas

Part 1: Hermeneutics of Preaching

1 The Homiletic Audience as Embodied Hermeneutic: Scripture and Its Interpretation in the Exegetical Preaching of John Chrysostom
Wendy Mayer

2 John Damascene’s Homily on the Withered Fig Tree (CPG 8058): Parable in Action, or Exegetical and Panegyrical Preaching in Interaction
Fr Damaskinos (Olkinuora) of Xenophontos

3 John Damascene on the Transfiguration of the Lord: Mystical Homiletic Performance and Eschatological Hermeneutics
Vassilis Adrahtas

4 Andrew of Crete’s Great Canon, Byzantine Hermeneutics, and Genesis 1–3
Doru Costache

Part 2: Performing and Experiencing Christianity

5 Knowledge in Song: Liturgical Formation and Transformation in Romanos the Melodist
Sarah Gador-Whyte

6 Is There Room for Doubt in Christian Faith? Romanos the Melodist and John the Monk on the Apostle Thomas
Mary B. Cunningham

7 The Tears of a Harlot: Kassia’s Hymn On the Sinful Woman and the Biblical Mosaic of Salvation
Andrew Mellas

8 Looking, Listening and Learning: Justinian’s Hagia Sophia
Brian Croke

9 “Blessed Is He Who Has Come and Comes Again”: Mimesis and Eschatology in Palm Sunday Hymns and Processions of Twelfth-Century Jerusalem
Daniel Galadza

Part 3: Tradition and Reception

10 Syriac Hymnography before Ephrem
Scott Fitzgerald Johnson

11 The Eye of the Soul in Plato and Pseudo-Macarius: Alexandrian Theology and the Roots of Hesychasm
Eva Anagnostou-Laoutides

Particularly academic specialists and students working in the areas of history of Christian religion and lay experience of it; those with particular interest in liturgy, hymnography and homiletics.
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