Friday, 20 March 2015

Jeff Childers: SC Praise at Table: A Cycle of Meditations by Jacob of Serugh

Edited by P. Bedjan (1908) under the title, “On Praise at Table,” this hitherto unstudied cycle of Syriac memre (nos. 139–146) attributed to Jacob of Serugh deals with a range of topics that are especially appropriate for meal-time reflection, such as: providence, bread and wine, honey, alms, gluttony, and reading scripture at table. Characterized by a tone of thankful praise, the meditations of these memre move between the body’s delight in the Creator’s provision of physical nourishment and the soul’s deeper need for spiritual sustenance. The poet’s celebration of food is qualified by his exhortation to spiritual discipline and his warnings against ingratitude or gluttony. This short communication presents the results of a close analysis of the style, metaphors, themes, theological content, and rhetorical features of these memre. The texts are full of biblical images and theological content; they invite the hearer and reader to engage in spiritual practices connected with food as a divine gift; they depict a community formed into a table fellowship by habits of embodied gratitude and discipline. Among the many areas of interest attaching to Jacob’s legacy, attention has turned recently to questions surrounding the identities and social locations of the people to whom Jacob preached and the people among whom he ministered. This communication will attempt to set these memre in their historical, theological, and communal context, illuminating aspects of Christian communal in the late antique Christian East.

No comments:

Post a Comment