In this groundbreaking, interdisciplinary study, Andrew Walker
White explores the origins of Byzantine ritual - the rites of the
early Greek Orthodox Church - and its unique relationship with
traditional theatre. Tracing the secularization of pagan theatre,
the rise of rhetoric as an alternative to acting, as well as the
transmission of ancient methods of musical composition into the
Byzantine era, White demonstrates how Christian ritual was in
effect a post-theatrical performing art, created by intellectuals
who were fully aware of traditional theatre but who endeavoured to
avoid it. The book explores how Orthodox rites avoid the aesthetic
appreciation associated with secular art, and conducts an in-depth
study (and reconstruction) of the late Byzantine Service of the
Furnace. Often treated as a liturgical drama, White translates and
delineates the features of five extant versions, to show how and
why it generated widely diverse audience reactions in both medieval
times and our own.
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