Apocalyptic poems in Christian and Jewish liturgy in late antiquity

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Cross-cultural comparisons are powerful analytical tools not only by virtue of the similarities they reveal but also because of the differences they expose. This chapter compares two liturgical poems of late antiquity – one Christian, the other Jewish – both of which are rich in apocalyptic imagery. The first is a kontakion, a hymn or chanted sermon, by Romanos the Melodist, the greatest liturgical poet of sixth-century Byzantine Christianity.1 The second is a piyyut, a Hebrew liturgical poem, of disputed authorship and composed, by all appearances, in Palestine in roughly the same period.2 Our understanding of each of these works is enhanced by their juxtaposition, which reveals thematic affinity and a common cultural milieu but at the same time highlights differences that might otherwise go unappreciated. Within the broader context of apocalyptic literature, the two poems pose comparable methodological challenges for the interpreter and have in fact occasioned similar misreadings.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPrayer and Worship in Eastern Christianities, 5th to 11th Centuries
EditorsB. Bitton-Ashkelony, D. Krueger
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Electronic)9781315601977
ISBN (Print)9780367881290
StatePublished - 2017


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