Sacred Song from the Byzantine Pulpit: Romanos the Melodist

Synopsis

Romanos the Melodist, a sixth-century deacon in Constantinople, is regarded as the premier poet of the Greek-speaking Christian church. His kontakia are elaborate, dramatic hymns designed to be sung before a congregation on major feast days. Their brilliant rhetoric and imagery are the avenue for deft commentary on scriptural texts and moral instructions. This book is an introduction to, and selected translations of, seventeen sung sermons of Romanos. While R. J. Schork reviews Romanos's life and times, his emphasis is on the hymns themselves as inspired and inspirational pieces of religious poetry. In addition, Schork focuses special attention on the poet's pervasive and sensitive treatment of various women, including Eve, the Virgin Mary, Potiphar's Wife, and the Sinful Woman who anointed Christ's feet. The translations and commentary make these contemporary recreations accessible to general audience interested in literature, the history of the Christian church, ingenious interpretation of scripture, and,,especially, Romano's unique poetic form.