Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Elisabeth Schiffer: Byzantine Prayers and their Historical Context

Although Byzantine prayers represent a great variety of concerns that appear to be close to everyday life, their wording is in fact mostly conceived in terms of the idea of timelessness and a semblance of universality. Only in a minority of prayers we may surmise contemporary relevance.
This paper will discuss a group of non-eucharistic, non-sacramental prayers transmitted in Byzantine euchologia by starting from an analysis of the features which are firmly anchored in historical circumstance. Special emphasis will be placed on prayers that may reflect concerns specific to the social, political, and doctrinal upheavals of the 13th century.
The topics to be raised are modifications in the wording, the correspondence of these modifications to historical circumstances or local conditions, and the question whether developments in the text of the prayers reflect concrete living conditions in times of crisis.

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