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A Sixth-Century Plea Against Religious Violence: Romanos On Elijah

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on Romanos' kontakion on the prophet Elijah. Its portrayal of Elijah is a surprising departure from what had already become standard in Greek piety, where the prophet was treated as a model of devotion to God and a defender of religious purity. Romanos used Basil's sermon with considerable freedom and reshaped it toward rather different ends. Still, the sermon provided the basic outline of the kontakion. In any case, Romanos was not simply attacking Elijah. He is careful to treat the prophet with honor as well as to criticize. He emphasizes God's friendship for him and reaffirms that Elijah was right to prize righteousness. He is polemicizing not for one or the other party but against the increasingly routine resort to force on both sides. This helps explain the sermon's aesthetic approach, which seeks to shape an emotional response, indeed a conversion.

Keywords: Basil's sermon; Elijah; religious violence; Romanos' kontakion



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