Sacred Song from the Byzantine Pulpit: Romanos the Melodist

By R. J. Schork | Go to book overview
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"The Resurrection VI" (29)
Twenty-four stanzas with the acrostic TOY TAΠEINOY PΩMANOY ΨAΛMOΣ ("song of/by the humble Romanos").
Easter Sunday
The Resurrection narratives in all four of the gospels ( "Matthew" 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-15, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-18) are the basis for this kontakion, which attempts to harmonize minor discrepancies in the various versions. Only in John 20: 1-2 is it clear that Mary Magdalene came first and alone, before dawn, to Christ's tomb. Romanos acknowledges this report as the basis of his chronology. As the three women (of the other versions) send Mary ahead, a justification is given: "this is what John's Gospel says" (stanza 3.3.). Immediately before the citation of his source, Romanos indicates that this scheme is his poetic way of bringing all the reports into concord. He does so by injecting the phrase "as I think" (hōs oimai) into his narrative (3.2). Later in the work, these same words appear again (19.4) to characterize the women's direct address to the angel on the stone, another speech not found in any of the gospels.Though an apparently minor point of structure, I suggest that these two carefully placed phrases -- and others like them in other kontakia are a sign of Romanos' scrupulous respect for the ipsissima verba of Scripture, as well as a signal that his sung sermons are creative commentaries. This point is supported by two parallel procedures in this work:
(1) When Mary Magdalene still thinks that Christ's body may have been removed from the tomb, she expresses her wonder and grief in a stanza and a half of soliloquy (7.5-8:12). This extrascriptural pas

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