Contextual Homiletic in the Patristic Age

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  • Topic: Homiletics, Sermon, Homily
  • Pages : 10 (3958 words )
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  • Published : May 30, 2013
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The metaphor of SONG and homiletic
Contextual homiletic in patristic age

The metaphor of song and music turns up here and there, over several millennia, in the terminology of preaching. In the following essay I attempt to show through the metaphor of singing how Hungarian homiletics is related to the so called aesthetical homiletics, which appeared both at the beginning and the end of the 20th century in international theological discourses, the effects of which also reached Hungary, albeit to a limited extent. Songs are popular topics in the Bible. We find several instances in the Old Testament where praising God was done using musical instruments, songs, and sometimes even with dances. These songs are confessions about the greatness and power of God (e.g. Moses, Miriam, David etc.), in other words demonstrating in a unified sense that contents and form, cognitive and affective parts are closely related in the sense of homiletics. Singing, as a form of preaching, still strongly tied to the Jewish heritage, is found also in the New Testament, especially in connection with the stories of the birth of Jesus. Mary and Zachariah praise the Lord with a song, as a response to the prophecy of the angel about the coming of the Messiah. On the sacred night of the birth, a choir of angels sing and glorify God. In the patristic period, following the primeval church, the song, as metaphor, originates mainly from the mythic anthropological images of the pagan world. This had an important effect both in preaching and in the cultivation of apology. Later the Christian kerygma, effected by the entering of the Hellenistic world took on the form of eloquence, which defined through several centuries its mainly deductive understanding and explanatory system. After this we find »preaching in song« in the era of the reformation. Martin Luther, in particular, was the great master of this, able to interpret theological concepts by song. (Luther’s preaching by song is discussed in detail by Professor Jan Hermelink in his keynote lecture, so I do not discuss this matter further to save space). Beside the interpretation of theology by oral means, its appearance in other arts (like literature, song, later theatre) has always been an exciting topic, in which the age of reformation produced outstanding results. Although functionally »singing theology« was counted as the best method of learning in a society where most people could hardly read, we cannot regard it solely and exclusively as a conscious approach. Aesthetic values cannot be evaded when branches of art are combined with preaching. And is there any form of preaching which is not connected to some form of art? Asking this question is important, especially in the case of Hungarian homiletics. At the end of the twentieth century the problem of song and music appears in the discourses of homiletics, as a metaphor of an event, a sort of analogy, which assists preaching, aside of rationality, to become an eventful, intuitive experience. This tendency is prominent in the American New Homiletic movement, mainly in the detailed problems of combination of contents and form. First I try to examine the metaphorical approach of music and song in the patristic age through Clement’s Protrepticos on the basis of the so called Orpheus legend. Secondly I will introduce, through the metaphor of song/music the new aesthetical approach in postmodern age. Thirdly, I will discuss how the 20th century Hungarian homiletical schools relate to aesthetical homiletics, that I call the modern age.

Aesthetical homiletics in the patristic age
Orpheus, the mythological hero, is regarded as the symbol of music/song and the strength of love; as a result his person became the icon of music and love. According to the myth, which was formed in the 6th century B.C., Orpheus was a Greek shepherd in Thracia, and was favoured by the gods because of his singing and playing of instruments like the zither, and lyre. He...
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