Sunday, April 29, 2018

Third of Five Exciting Announcements from the Mystagogy Resource Center


Dear Readers:

Christ is Risen!

The third of the five exciting announcements is the launch of a new website dedicated solely to answering your questions. And the title of this new website is Erotapokriseis.

Erotapokriseis is a term from late antiquity by which Roman/Byzantine grammarians designated one of the oldest and most popular literary formats of the ancient world. Erotapokriseis - or Quaestiones, as they were called in Latin - occur in various types of literature, but these all have in common that they use the form of questions and answers in one way or another.

As a literary form and process it sprang from and was used in the schoolroom of the philosophers. It was more broadly used in late antiquity. In the Life of Plotinus, Porphyry ‘spent three days asking Plotinus how the soul is present to the body, he [Plotinus] kept explaining, causing a certain newcomer called Thaumasius to say that he wanted to hear him laying down principles with reference to texts and would not put up with Porphyry’s responses and inquiries. But Plotinus says, “If we do not resolve Porphyry’s difficulties when he questions us, we shall not have anything that we can put straight into the text.”’

The literary form of erotapokriseis was adopted and adapted at a fairly early stage by Christians. Origen and Eusebius — to name but a few — made extensive use of this form. Being one of the first adaptations of the erotapokriseis in Greek Christian literature and having survived under the name of the second century AD apologist Justin, the Quaestiones et responsiones ad orthodoxos is a collection of 161 questions and answers (thus in the longer recension) and it deals with a wide range of issues. In the case of Ps. Justin the persona of the teacher remains less developed but other collections such as the one by Anastasios of Sinai or Michael Glykas afford us perhaps a fuller picture of the teacher at work.

If instruction is the primary concern for these texts it takes the form of a dispensation of knowledge that does not preclude a skillful use of hermeneutical principles, even if the parameters of the debate and of the imparted instruction have changed. In fact question and answer literature becomes a literature where some authors may feel more at ease to speculate and at times innovate. The format allows for the discussion of a broad array of questions which are given different degrees of focus.

Many scholars have referred to these collections as catecheses on account of the fact that they impart knowledge. But we have to ask more questions and probe deeper. Our knowledge of catechesis is limited, but — if anything — these collections allow us to see this process as longer than we have assumed. The literature of the erotapokriseis addressed a constant need for instruction in the Bible but also on a number of other issues. This accounts for the appeal of this form and its longevity.

This website is solely devoted to answering questions, hence the name. I have received numerous questions over the years, which I have primarily answered in private, but from now on I wish to make these public. If one person has a question, most likely many more have the same question. The answers are my opinion only, while of course trying to be as factual as I can be. If I don't know the answer, I will try and get you closer to the answer. Not all submitted questions are guaranteed to appear on this website. This website is part of the ministry of the Mystagogy Resource Center. If you have a question, you may submit it in the contact form towards the bottom of the site, or send an email to mystagogy@aol.com.

With love in Christ,

John Sanidopoulos

Director of the Mystagogy Resource Center



See also:

First of Five Exciting Announcements from the Mystagogy Resource Center

Second of Five Exciting Announcements from the Mystagogy Resource Center


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