Susan Ashbrook Harvey is Willard Prescott and Annie McClelland Smith Professor of Religion and History at Brown University, where she has also served as the Royce Family Professor of Teaching Excellence in the Humanities.
Creation, Order, Beauty: Jacob of Serugh on Liturgical Aesthetics
December 15, 2021, tentatively at 10:00 am ( Washington, DC Time)
In his magisterial Homily 71, On the Six Days of Creation, Jacob of Serugh tied close examination of the Genesis creation accounts (Gen 1:1 – 2:3) together with extensive liturgical references. Moreover, he brought these two thematic streams – creation and liturgy – to a culminating celebration of “Beauty” as an attribute. Elsewhere, beauty, for Jacob, was often a moral category. The Virgin Mary’s free will was the measure of her beauty; the widowed Tamar’s deceit of her father-in-law Judah (Gen. 38) was an act “ugly” in its plain doing, but “beautiful” in its intention and meaning. What, in Jacob’s view, made liturgy “beautiful”? What measure of aesthetics did he bring to liturgical performance and participation, such that it might befit village, monastery, or city, with or without material wealth to adorn its presentation? How did Jacob’s theology of creation inform his liturgical aesthetics?
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