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Religions 2017, 8(5), 92; doi:10.3390/rel8050092

Mimesis or Metamorphosis? Eastern Orthodox Liturgical Practice and Its Philosophical Background

Philosophy Department, Fordham University, 441 E. Fordham Rd., Bronx, NY 10458, USA
Academic Editor: John Jillions
Received: 12 April 2017 / Revised: 27 April 2017 / Accepted: 27 April 2017 / Published: 12 May 2017
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [267 KB, uploaded 12 May 2017]

Abstract

What does Eastern Orthodox liturgy do? Is it a mimetic remembrance of Christ’s acts or about a transformation of the believers who come to worship? This paper explores the larger philosophical worldview within which patristic liturgy emerged in order to negotiate this tension between mimetic and transformative aspects of liturgical practice. It suggests that ancient philosophical conceptions of the cosmos and of soul and body underlie and can hence elucidate what Byzantine liturgy does. Liturgy tries to unify soul and body, heaven and earth, in a particular way. Liturgy seeks to transform the human person and the cosmos in such a manner that they come to image and match each other. The introduction to the paper briefly examines some contemporary accounts to show the stakes of the question about what liturgy “does” and the role mimesis and metamorphosis play in this debate. The main part of the paper explores the shared philosophical heritage regarding imitation and transformation, inner and outer, heavenly and earthly in order to understand more fully the background for how liturgy negotiates these dimensions. The conclusion to the paper draws out the implications of this patristic heritage for making sense of what contemporary liturgy does in a broader sense. View Full-Text
Keywords: liturgy; mimesis; transformation; cosmos; philosophy; Maximus liturgy; mimesis; transformation; cosmos; philosophy; Maximus
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Gschwandtner, C.M. Mimesis or Metamorphosis? Eastern Orthodox Liturgical Practice and Its Philosophical Background. Religions 2017, 8, 92.

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