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The St. Sisynnios Ethiopian Legend Revisited

A Hitherto Unknown Version from the St Petersburg Institute of Oriental Manuscripts (Eth. 119)

Ekaterina V. Gusarova


The St. Sisynnios legend is an integral part of both Christian and popular Ethiopian historical traditions. It is known to exist in the Ge’ez language and constitutes a part of the compilation corpus based upon the so called magic or protective scrolls. There are two versions of the vita of St. Sisynnios. The shorter one is found in the Synaxarion, whereas the longer one is included in a corpus of hagiographical compilations “The Lives of the Martyrs”. The text of the legend comprises various stories based on real facts from the Saint’s life. However only some of them have been preserved intact; others have been re-told. Until recently have been discovered only three redactions of the vita. A new redaction recently discovered by the author of this article is of a paramount importance since it changes our view on how this legend did exist indeed in the Ethiopian cultural tradition.

Andrey B. Moroz and Alexander V. Pigin


The article deals with the problems of studying folk hagiography, a complex of peasants’ written and oral texts, which contain information about saints or revered non-canonized devotees and express the very specifics of the popular understanding of holiness. The first half of the article discusses the phenomenon of folk hagiography, defines the range of folklore genres, reflecting folk beliefs about saints, and investigates the mechanisms of interaction between the written and oral traditions. The second half analyzes texts and religious practices related to the folk worship of the non-canonized elder Judas Koneschelsky (Archangelsk North). There are following sources for the study of this cult: judicial documents of the turn of the 19th and the 20th centuries, a peasant’s diary of the turn of the 19th and the 20th centuries, local priests’ notes from that time, and field data, collected by folklorists at the beginning of the 21th century. On the basis of these sources, the authors, considering a specific case, make an attempt to study the mechanisms of functioning of folk hagiography. A large time span between the early and late data records and various texts about Judas make it possible to trace evolution of this cult.

“With Length of Days I Will Gratify Him”

Augustine, the Psalms, and Old Age

Geoffrey D. Dunn


The Bible has a variety of perspectives on old age. On the one hand, as exemplified in Ps 91(90):16 and 92(91):15, old age is a sign of God’s blessing and the elderly are held in high regard as valuable, while on the other, as exemplified in Ps 39(38):5; 71(70):9; and 90(89):10, life is seen as fleeting and length of days as insignificant and the elderly fear neglect. The psalms held a high place in Augustine’s Christian identity. This paper explores Augustine’s use of these verses to consider the extent to which his religious outlook shaped his perspectives on ageing, as well as addressing the question of whether or not he was aware of the conflict between the two perspectives. It will be argued that Augustine was not interested in the contradictions presented by the psalmist, and that he interpreted all the verses through an eschatological framework, such that an evaluation of the meaning and value of life is to be found only through a perception of eternity.

Does Human Soul Have an Owner?

Patristic Anthropology and Wittgenstein on the Human Identity

Basil Lourié


In the mainstream anthropology of Byzantine patristics, the human “I” is twice inconsistent, being identical to but different from a “part of God” and, in the created world, being not a something while without being a nothing. The latter kind of inconsistency was described as well by Ludwig Wittgenstein in his peculiar doctrine of subjectivity.

Tatiana Pentkovskaya


The article is devoted to the newest edition of the so-called Dragota Menaion prepared by Iskra Hristova-Shomova. This Bulgarian hymnographic collection survived as the bottom layer of a palimpsest going back to the early twelfth century. It combines the services of the Menaion and the Triodion cycles. The translation contains rare Slavonic lexemes and some archaic Greek borrowings. These features makes this text precious for the studies of liturgy and hymnography among the Slavs.

Cyril Hovorun


The paper suggests a new hermeneutical take on receptive patristics. Receptive patristics means here the ways in which patristic texts are perceived in the community of patristic scholars and in ecclesiastical communities. The perceptions of the patristic materials that these two kinds of communities demonstrate are not always convergent. Their divergence can be explained on the basis of the distinction between normative linguistics and sociolinguistics. Ecclesiastical communities tend to treat the language of the Fathers and Mothers of the church in coherence with the way in which the proponents of normative linguistics treat the phenomenon of language. Patristic scholars, in contrast, usually treat them along the line of sociolinguistics. The approach to the language, which is applied by sociolinguistics, if adopted by ecclesiastical communities, could lead to a better understanding between them. It could foster the ecumenical rapprochement between confessional traditions, especially if they are based on patristic identities, such as in the case of Byzantine and Oriental churches. The academic method of sociolinguistics, thus, can be applied to the ecumenical studies and can positively contribute to practical ecumenism.