Narratives about saints and collections of their biographies have been one of the most important elements in the formation of the Orthodox theological tradition, especially in its liturgical life. These narratives have influenced structural liturgical elements such as hymnology and iconology, as well having had an inspirational influence on the clergy and laity. This course examines how hagiographical texts and narratives are used within church communities, with particular focus on how those texts inspire, influence and inspire different forms of spiritual growth among the faithful. Students will be taught to identify the different forms of hagiographical narrative, and how the concepts of martyria (witnessing), morality (ethics), and spiritual growth (metanoia) can be applied to the structures of the readers’ lives, particularly in regard to parish communities. An important aspect of the course is the influential (didactical) role of the saints in the Church, and the impact hagiographical texts exert on personal spiritual development (theosis).
By the end of the course the student will be able to:
- Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of various expressions of the hagiographical sources.
- Display advanced insight into how various Orthodox saints have witnessed their faithfulness to Christ and the Church and have become ‘influencers’ for future generations of believers.
- Demonstrate the ability to connect the narratives and the liturgical hymns of saints’ lives to their everyday experience.
- Critically reflect on the connections between a Saint’s Feast Day hymnology, the Liturgical Calendar, Hagiographical texts, the Saint’s Icon and the theological meaning of the Saint’s Feast Day.