In Eastern Christian traditions, worship appeals to all five senses in grounding and growing believers into God's restored creation. This course will introduce students to the spirit, structures, and theology of Eastern Christian worship where poetry, drama, visual arts, and music combine to create an immersive experience in which members of the assembly encounter the divine in powerful, transformative ways.
This course will focus primarily on the Byzantine Rite, while noting significant characteristics and contributions of other Eastern Christian liturgical families (Alexandrian, West Syrian, East Syrian, and Armenian). Topics will include art and architecture; poetry, prayer, and music; daily prayer; Lent, Holy Week, and Easter; and feasts of Christ, Mary, and saints. Discussion throughout the semester will address issues of culture, identity, post/colonialism, and spirituality. Students will develop analytical skills by examining prayer and hymn texts (in English translation), exploring how beauty and theology are intertwined in the liturgical traditions of Eastern Christian churches.
Designed for advanced MDiv, MA, and PhD students, this course will combine lecture and seminar discussion. Evaluation will be based on class participation, one in-class presentation, two brief written text analyses, and a final synthesis paper.