Poetry and Hymnography (2): The Greek World

John A. McGuckin

in The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199271566
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Poetry and Hymnography (2): The Greek World

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  • Religion in the Ancient World



Greek Christian hymns are a massive part of the surviving literary record of the early church, but have rarely attracted the level of scholarly attention that they deserve. This article discusses Greek hymnody; the classical origins of the Greek Christian hymns; the Bible and the ancient liturgy; stages of Syrian influence on Byzantine hymnography; hymns of the heterodox–orthodox Struggles; littérateur poets in Greek late antiquity; and the flowering of Byzantine hymnography in the sixth to eleventh Centuries. In Greek hymnody, one can see creed, antiphon, poem, prayer, song, and sacrament welded to form a seamless unity: here Byzantine theology, mysticism, and liturgical chant merge into a profound symbiosis in a programme that already consciously understood itself to be a theology of beauty and of culture. The ancient hymn is thus a potent symbol, still awaiting its full articulation.

Keywords: Greek hymnody; Greek Christian hymns; Bible; ancient liturgy; Byzantine hymnography; liturgical chant

Article.  7215 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Christianity ; Religious Studies ; Religion in the Ancient World

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