In this book Gerasimos Pagoulatos examines the previously unexplored sources of the eleventh-century A.D. Byzantine service of Christ the Bridegroom by locating its origins in the liturgical environment of third-century A.D. Christian Syria and Mesopotamia, and more especially in the baptistry of the Christian House at Dura-Europos, as well as in the texts of the Acts of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip and the Symposium by Methodius of Olympus.
More specifically, Pagoulatos analyzes the bridal initiation service (the earliest known Iconophile service) of the Dura-Europos Christian baptistery, focusing on the role that the images played in it. This aspect, which has been previously neglected by scholarship, proves crucial for the better understanding of this service. Pagoulatos argues that the Dura-Europos Christian House Baptistery hosted an initiation bridal service, in which the real presence of Christ was signified by His image depicted at the center of the room, and the initiates were emotionally united with Christ, who revealed Himself as a Good Shepherd and Bridegroom through contemplation of His image. This study that dates the use of images in Christian worship at least in the third and not in the sixth and seventh-centuries as scholarship has generally acknowledged, is the only attempt to reconsider the issue of the function of the Dura-Europos baptistery since the work of C.H. Kraeling, (The Excavations at Dura-Europos, 1967).
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Gerasimos P. Pagoulatos teaches 'Introduction to Hellenic Civilization' at the Hellenic Open University, Greece. He holds an M.A. in Late Antique and Byzantine History, Theology, and Art from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from Saint Louis University, USA.
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