Twenty-four stanzas with the acrostic EIΣ. TON ABPAAM PΩMANOY YMNOΣ ("a hymn on Abraham of/by Romanos."). The manuscripts report an irregular refrain; for consistency on this point I have followed the text of Grosdidier de Matons.1
This kontakion2 focuses on Yahweh's command to Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac -- and the sudden abrogation of that order ( Genesis 22:1-18). There is a significant problem involving the role of Sarah in the structure of the plot. In Genesis there is no indication whatsoever that Sarah knew anything about God's test of her husband's fidelity. Romanos, however, devotes five stanzas (7-11) to Sarah's protests to Abraham and another stanza and a half to comments on her husband's defense (14.1-15.5). The introduction to her first speech clearly marks it as a hypothetical lament which Abraham himself uses as part of his argument with Yahweh against the sacrifice (7.1-2); and Abraham's interposed rebuttal of his wife's attack begins with "Do not say such things (toutoisi)!" (12.1).
In fact, in the Bible even Abraham does not question Yahweh's terrible test. It is Romanos' grasp of parental psychology that prompts this sort of horrified and dramatic action and reaction. The poet's inspired passage is introduced as being unmistakably extrascriptural by his typical question "How did you not say?" (3.4), followed by Abraham's (and Sarah's) laments. Yet, Romanos' text at the completion of Abraham's answer to his wife's "reported" laments gives no indication of the indirect nature of their exchange or of her rebuttal to come (14.1). The end of her speech, however, is followed by two lines (15.6-7) that include another of Ro