Wednesday, March 01, 2006

ekphrasis, the Holy Sepulchre, and Cyril's Catechumenate

As was briefly mentioned in our last meeting, Cyril's main church was the church of the Holy Sepulchre. In light of this, some have contended that Cyril used the locale and important contents of the church (i.e. Golgotha and a relic of the wood of Christ's cross) to articulate to his catechumens the truthful witness and power of the crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus. As mentioned by Kalleres in "Cultivating True Sight at the Center of the Word: Cyril of Jerusalem and the Lenten Catechumenate", Cyril's Christology emphasized the soteriological implications of cross and crucifixion over the implications of the Resurrection. We see evidence of Cyril's emphasis on the reality of the suffering and death of the fully human Christ in a way typical to histime period. Ekphrasis is a method of conveying information in a persuasive manner by seeking to create a mental image of an event (in Cyril's case: the death of Christ) in order to build a truth-claim from this visualized event. Ekphrasis is much more than merely the informal fallacy of appeal to emotion. A good example of this might be the emotional effect that remembering a past traumatic experience might have on a person, so that even though the event is no longer happening it still can have effects on the disposition of both the person remembering the event and those who may be empathizing with the person (possibly in a cathartic sense???). Cyril seemed to utilize the ethos of the interior of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to his advantage inasmuch as he uses the reality of the wood of the cross as well as the hole on Golgotha where it was believed that Christ was crucified to paint a mental picture in the imagination of the Catechumens in order to lead them to some emotional and/or spiritual response.

So what does this mean for us who are reading and “unpacking” Cyril’s Catechetical Lecture? It may shed some light on the historical/geographical/theological/political context behind Cyril’s Lectures in regard to various literary devices he uses, the meaning of certain expositions as being a nuance between Christ and the atmosphere of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as being reliquary-in-itself. Anyway, I’ll try to write some more in regard to this. I figured I’d write something to get some discussion going. Questions, comments, and critiques are certainly welcome.

By the way, read Lectures 1-4 for our discussion on Friday. We will meet at 4:30 in the CM building lobby, if you show up late then look for us in some classroom most likely on the first floor.
Grace and peace to you on the commencement of the Lenten season, Erick


Blogger C. Curtis Schrock said...

These kinds of insights really help us to peak around some 1700 years in order to better understand previous writings. Thank-you.

7:14 PM  

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