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Looking Backward into the Future: Thoughts on the Study of the Past, Ritual, and Women’s Eucharistic Experiences in Byzantium

  • Evangelatou, Maria
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2022
eScholarship - University of California
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As a student of Christian visual production of the so-called medieval period (specializing in Byzantine culture), I have often marveled at the theological richness of seemingly simple narratives that could communicate a wealth of possible meanings in the eyes of their intended original audiences. The mundane act of Mary drawing water from a well or spinning purple thread at the time of her Annunciation (whether in verbal or visual forms of storytelling) could resonate with deep theological significance in the minds of cultural insiders who were familiar with the basic religious beliefs, symbols, scriptural sources, rituals, and other cultural practices of their tradition. Believing they lived in a universe created by their God and ruled by his laws and providence, Christians of the past were taught to seek deeper meaning and guidance in aspects of the material world, their daily experiences, and their communal history, as all these manifestations could reveal divine wisdom and God’s plan for human salvation. In this context, familiar and simple objects like water or thread could make complex theological concepts more relatable and understandable to the faithful.

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