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"Taste and See": the Eucharist and the eyes of faith in the fourth century.

Whenever Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, stood before newly baptized Christians on Easter week, his task seemed straightforward: to explain the meaning of the initiations they had recently undergone. His explanations, however, were peppered with dialogue, as he thought aloud about the impression these rites had made on the new converts. He recounted the previous days' events in these words: "You went, you washed, you came to the altar, you began to see what you had not seen before." (1) This promise of novel sights, however, could not dispel the neophytes' lingering doubts. Aloud, he imagined their questions: "Is this that great mystery which the eye has not seen nor the ear heard ...? I see waters which I used to see daily; are these able to cleanse me?" (2) Ambrose wondered if the baptism lacked sufficient majesty, such that a catechumen might ask, "`Is this all?'" Ambrose already knew what he would reply, "Yes, this is all, truly all." (3) Baptism, the rite often timed to coincide with Easter, might disappoint as much as it inspired awe.

If baptism had been an underwhelming experience for some, the bishop shuddered to think of first impressions at first Communion: "Perhaps you may say: `I see something else; how do you tell me that I receive the Body of Christ?'" (4) Ambrose admitted that receiving Eucharist required a stretch of the imagination: "You perhaps say: `My bread is ordinary [usitatus].'" As for the wine, "perhaps you say: `I do not see the appearance of blood." (5) Ambrose, like any catechist of his day, had a lot of explaining to do.

In imagining catechumens' doubts and disappointments, Ambrose captured the sensory confusion that crept into the heart of Christian initiation, in general, and the Eucharist, in particular. For Ambrose, the problem lay squarely with the neophyte and her physical senses, not with the ritual's plainness. As he explained, "You have seen what you were able to see with the eyes of your body, with human perception; you have not seen those things which are effected but those which are seen." (6) To see the unseen--the "effected"--required another set of eyes, the "eyes of the heart" (oculos cordis), as Ambrose would call this supplemental, yet vital sense. (7) Drawing from the gospel story of Jesus healing the man born blind by applying mud to the man's eyes, Ambrose interpreted the exorcisms to be a mudlike balm, applied to the eyes in order to restore sight. (8) Thus, through successive adjurations, these special eyes would be opened slowly and gradually as the catechumen prepared for baptism. Apart from this clever explanation, however, Ambrose left much unsaid about this special sense. (9) How does one train a neophyte's eye to behold mystery? How exactly might one see bread as body or taste wine as blood?

Other catechists of Ambrose's day explored these sensory fault-lines more fully. In the Greek-speaking East, in Jerusalem and Western Syria, Cyril of Jerusalem (386), John Chrysostom in Antioch (388), and Theodore of Mopsuestia (390) delivered Easter week instructions about the sacraments to newly baptized Christians. These three preachers tutored new Christians in ways to "re-perceive," so to speak, the Eucharist. Like Ambrose, they confronted head-on whatever nagging facts the "eyes of the body" reported and called on neophytes to use another faculty of sight, that of the soul. What Ambrose called the "eyes of the heart" corresponded to what these Greek-speaking teachers called "eyes of faith" or "spiritual eyes." (10) Less clear is how this special or alternate sense related to the hard facts of human perception. Closer analysis of these instructions suggests that these new eyes were vital to the eucharistic experience, but not because they denied or dismissed the evidence of the physical senses. To the contrary, they confronted and reconciled powerful if conflicting sense impressions. These interior senses, I argue, rescued the Eucharist from the doubts and disappointments Ambrose articulated.

New experiences demanded new eyes. As this essay suggests, the "eyes of faith" stood for a variety of mental images and visual processes taught to new Christians as a way to prepare them to receive the eucharistic bread and wine. Without erasing the evidence of the physical senses, these visual strategies generated a host of mental images that would reframe the physical perception of the Eucharist. Rather than look away, neophytes were taught to look closer at the liturgy unfolding. Such detailed instructions were the result of political and liturgical transformations that marked the latter half of the fourth century. Before turning to the catechists, it may be helpful to outline changes in the catechumenate at this time.


The eucharistic instructions of Cyril, Chrysostom, and Theodore belong to a large corpus prescribing Christian rituals. Prior to the legalization of Christianity in 313, Christians defended their rites against critics or directed leaders on matters of protocol, as in church manuals. (11) By the late fourth century, however, the instructions paid closer attention to new Christians' perceptions, namely, the post-baptismal newness of the experience. To a neophyte, there was nothing habitual about the Eucharist. The consecration and distribution of bread and wine had been kept hidden from the uninitiated, who would be dismissed from the liturgy prior to this rite. The neophyte's first encounter with the Eucharist, both as spectator and participant, would not occur until after baptism.

It is easy to forget the secrecy surrounding the Eucharist, especially at a time when so much of Christian worship had gone public. The second half of the fourth century had witnessed a proliferation of outdoor worship, with bishops leading processions through the streets of Rome, Constantinople, and Jerusalem. (12) The stational liturgy, as this form of worship is called, contributed to a growing investment in holy places, as pilgrims explored inventive ways of experiencing--if not reenacting--the biblical past. (13) As Christianity became more visible, more perceptible, and more performative outdoors, the need for deeper sensory understanding indoors persisted among its newest members.

An increasingly elaborate pre-baptismal process also created the need for more detailed instructions about post-baptismal rites. Over the course of the fourth century, Lent, the preferred season of baptismal preparation, expanded from three weeks to forty days. (14) With a rise in the numbers of adult converts and with longer baptismal preparation, eucharistic instruction also became more detailed. Yet, this surge in adult catechumens did not last more than a generation or two. In the fifth century child baptism became more widespread; and more adults postponed baptism until much later in life. The baptized, as a result, comprised the very young and the very old, with a shrinking adult catechumenate. (15) This "baptism gap" between those baptized in infancy and those baptized very late in life diminished the need for detailed instructions typical of the late fourth century. Looking even farther ahead, the audience of liturgical commentary shifted from neophytes to those more spiritually advanced. In later centuries, interpreters had little need for the how-to approach of the fourth-century lectures. Commentaries like Pseudo-Dionysius's Ecclesiastical Hierarchy (ca. 500) or Maximus Confessor's Mystagogy (ca. 630) aimed for more symbolic and spiritualized interpretations to arrive at the inner meaning of the eucharistic rites. (16) These later commentaries were intended for Christian audiences habituated to the Eucharist, for whom the physical, sensory perceptions would hardly have seemed new or noteworthy.

The late-fourth-century commentaries have provided liturgical historians with valuable witnesses to changes in the performance of the liturgy. (17) What has received less attention, however, is the method they used for instructing Christians to partake of these rites. How might new converts notice and understand their sensory perceptions? How would they handle the disruptive ones? The catechetical lectures of Cyril, John Chrysostom, and Theodore of Mopsuestia mapped the path to the divine through detailed tracking of sense experience.


The sensory dimensions of the Eucharist were not lost on Cyril of Jerusalem (315-87). As bishop (350-87), Cyril promoted and witnessed the growth of Jerusalem as a major pilgrimage center. (18) He is best known for his delivery to catechumens of a series of lectures, eighteen of which survive from around Lent in the year 350. (19) As increasing numbers of pilgrims visited Jerusalem for its sumptuous churches and other spectacles, Cyril was in a key position to integrate the excitement of large-scale splendor with more intimate sensory experiences, such as the taking of the Eucharist. (20) Thus Cyril often reminded the pilgrims and Jerusalemites in his audiences that their contact with holy places authenticated his instructions. (21) Every time Cyril reminded his audience that the biblical past was manifestly present in their midst, he urged them to recall their physical encounter with the holy places. Indeed, proximity and presence were not to go unnoticed.

What the eyes could (still) see took on even deeper significance in a later set of lectures, delivered shortly after baptism to the neophytes. These five lectures, known as the Mystagogical Catecheses, explained the significance of sacraments such as baptism, chrismation and Eucharist. (22) In recent decades, scholars have debated whether Cyril or his successor, John, composed these lectures. (23) The date of composition of these lectures, then, might be as early as 386 or as late as the 390s. Whether the lectures were composed by John or by Cyril, the role of the senses in eucharistic initiation is prominent. Unlike the catecheses, where Cyril addressed the uninitiated, the author of the Mystagogical Catecheses now stood in a different relation to his audience, whom he regarded as capable of deeper understanding. (24) It was fitting that the physical senses took on new meaning following baptism. Whereas his pre-baptismal lectures often appealed to what the "eyes of the flesh" had seen, (25) these later instructions introduced another set of senses, those of the spirit, which were key to perceiving divine realities beyond the material world.

For Cyril the spiritual senses were closely linked to initiatory rites, especially baptism and its confirmation in chrismation, or anointing. In chrismation, the priest applied a special ointment or perfumed oil to various parts of the baptized body: first the forehead, then the eyes, nostrils, mouth, and ears, the breast, the hands, and the feet. (26) The piecemeal anointing was significant for Cyril, for with each touch a different spiritual sense was awakened. As Cyril explained, "then upon the ears; to receive ears quick to hear the divine mysteries, the ears of which Isaiah said: `The Lord gave me also an ear to hear' [cf. Isa. 50:4]. Then upon the nostrils, that, scenting the divine oil, you may say: `We are the incense offered by Christ to God' [2 Cor. 2:15].... Then on the breast; that `putting on the breastplate of justice you may be able to withstand the wiles of the Devil' [cf. Eph. 6:14, 11]." (27) Striking here is the way Cyril assigned a biblical passage to every body part. Onto each body part, he plotted a different scriptural passage, thereby mapping a new body capable of perceiving supra-sensory realities. Such senses began at the body, but perceived what was beyond it.

Cyril was not the first Christian to suggest that the faithful have not one, but two sets of senses. The idea that human beings have a set of "spiritual" or "interior" senses can be traced back to the third-century Alexandrian theologian, Origen. (28) According to Origen, any reading of Scripture required a "diviner sense" by which to know God. (29) From this idea, Origen promulgated the notion that the single sense comprised multiple interior senses, corresponding to each physical sense. (30) Summoning a diverse set of biblical passages, Origen claimed a scriptural seal on each sense: eyes enlightened by God's commandments (Ps. 18:9), the call to taste and see God (Ps. 34:9), the need to touch truth (1 John 1:1). All these passages, he claimed, pointed to discrete ways of sensing the divine order, including Christ, God, angels, and even the deeper meaning of Scripture. (31) Even if the five interior senses resembled their physical counterparts, they were the exclusive privilege of the spiritually advanced. (32) Origen regarded the interior senses as the hard-earned fruits of disciplined exercises or gymnasia, as he called them. Thus, he prescribed to any Christian aspiring to be perfect ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and enjoy these higher senses a regimen of faith, meditation, and transcending the physical senses. (33) Even if one had use of all five spiritual senses, however, the integration of physical and spiritual sense perception was impossible. The eyes of the soul mirrored the eyes of the body in name and function, but they could not operate simultaneously. True contemplation, for Origen, meant shutting down the eyes of the body in order to see with the eyes of the soul. (34) No wonder, then, that Origen could insist "we have no need of a body to know God," (35) since the mind alone with its spiritual senses would suffice.

Unlike Origen, who regarded the spiritual senses as beyond the reach of most Christians, Cyril could not withhold this gift from beginners in the faith. Compared to Origen's cross-training gymnasia, Cyril saw need for only one exercise: baptism. He presumed that every baptized Christian is capable of using the eyes of faith. Nor could he maintain the dichotomy between the soul and the body implied by Origen's ideal. As Cyril understood the spiritual senses, they never displace the physical ones. For instance, in the passage on anointing, quoted above, it is significant that only when the catechumen actually smelled the fragrant oil did she become the aroma for God. He remained cautious of the physical senses. As he said of chrismation: "Beware of supposing that this oil ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) is mere ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) oil. Just as after the invocation of the Holy Spirit the eucharistic bread is no longer ordinary bread ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), but the Body of Christ, so this holy oil, in conjunction with the invocation, is no longer simple ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) or common ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) oil." (36) As with Ambrose, any hint of the ordinary was cause for concern. Just because the Christian may be accustomed to a barrage of physical perceptions does not mean that one must suppose the plainness of all physical perceptions. In this warning, Cyril validated the physical sensorium, even as he subordinated it to a spiritual one. (37)

In drawing attention to the compatibility of physical and spiritual senses, Cyril also needed a way to negotiate and reconcile conflicting impressions. How could one have "assurance" ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), as Cyril put it, that the bread was body and the wine was blood? (38) Scripture offered a sure guide. As Cyril reminded his audience, Jesus transformed water into wine at the miracle at Cana, thereby setting a precedent for changing wine into blood. And the scriptures prophesied this baptismal banquet, as in Eccles. 9:7-8: "Go, eat your bread with enjoyment and drink your wine with merry heart.... Let your garments be white." Even with these scriptural assurances, the physical senses could say otherwise: "Do not then think of the elements as mere ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) bread and wine.... Though sense ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) suggests the contrary, let faith be your stay. Instead of judging the matter by taste ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), let faith give you an unwavering assurance ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) that you have been privileged to receive the Body and Blood of Christ." (39) This passage echoes the description of how chrismation awakens interior senses. Again, one finds a "fear of the mere," so to speak, combined with scriptural authority. Both strategies were critical for Cyril, who regarded taste as the intractable sense, a thorn in Scripture's side. As he spoke of taste later in the same sermon, the bread was not bread, "though it is bread to the taste," nor could wine be wine, "though taste will have it so." (40) Here, taste is even more determined and contrarian, as suggested by Cyril's use of the verb boulomai "to will, wish." The problem, as Cyril understood it, arose when judgment deferred to the "bodily palate." (41)

As a way to keep taste in check, Cyril summoned the internal eye to conjure more helpful images. Thus he closed the fourth Mystagogical Lecture with the exhortation to imagine oneself dressed in white garments. The bread, he promised, would "make cheerful the face of your soul," unveiled and so bright that it reflected the glory of the Lord. (42) By conjuring these imaginal bodies with shining garments and mirror-like faces, Cyril grafted sight over taste, thereby equipping the neophyte to receive Communion.

That sight should trump the evidence of taste is a puzzling move. He might have invoked "spiritual" taste to prevail over bodily taste, but Cyril never spiritualized or even dignified taste. Instead, he counteracted taste with a series of mental images, each with an ontological reality to rival that of physical taste. The challenge he proposed was to taste one thing but see another. One explanation for the primacy Cyril accorded to vision is his locale. (43) Unlike his counterparts in Antioch or Milan, the bishop of Jerusalem could appeal to the holy places, the stony and final word that could lay to rest any catechumen's doubts. Prior to the catechumens' baptism, Cyril often underscored how the proof of his teachings rested in the neighboring biblical holy places. It is never simply "Golgotha," but "Golgotha, here." (44) Thus, he insisted on the truth of the resurrection because "the place itself [is] still visible," as well as the church that adorned it. (45) If the eyes of the pre-baptismal body could validate the biblical past, after baptism, one must rely on the internal eyes to negate the distressing messages from the palate. Surrounded as he was by so many visible proofs, Cyril would have felt little need to resort to "spiritual taste."

Cyril's confidence in mental image-making is more fully developed in the passage in the fifth Mystagogical Lecture in which he called attention to the right ordering of thoughts. At the point in the liturgy when the call to "Lift up your hearts" came, Cyril recommended banishing worldly thoughts. This mental housecleaning allowed room for better images; as Cyril puts it, "we make mention of ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) the heavens, the earth and the sea, the sun and moon, the stars, the whole rational and irrational creation, both visible and invisible: Angels and Archangels; Virtues, Dominions, Principalities, Powers, Thrones, and the many-faced Cherubim.... We make mention also of the Seraphim whom Isaiah, in the Holy Spirit, saw encircling the throne of God `with two wings veiling their faces, and with two their feet, while flying with two." (46) It is worth noting that Cyril drew attention to the embodied aspects of these cosmic reminders: thrones, wings, faces, feet, forming a set of imaginal bodies (47) alongside the worshiper's self-image as clad in white with shining face.

Along with the imaginal preparation came prescribed gestures and postures: "Do not have your wrists extended or your fingers spread, but making your left hand a throne for the right, for it is about to receive a King, and cupping your palm, receive the body of Christ." (48) By positioning the hands to evoke the divine throne of Isaiah's vision, the worshiper also imagined a space in which to receive a body. (49) As an extension of this imaginative process, Cyril instructed worshippers to touch the eucharistic bread to their bodily eyes. And so, too, with the wine: "While it is still moist upon your lips, touch it with your fingers, and so sanctify your eyes, your forehead, and other senses." (50) By blending interior perceptions with gestures, Cyril sanctified bodily sense perceptions. With these directives, Cyril constructed an imaginal body by which to guide the physical perceptions involved in the Eucharist.

As the discussion of taste reminds us, fullness of the eucharistic experience depended on the visual gymnastics of an imaginal body. It is equally important to note, however, that the body itself was not predicated on physical holy places. Cyril may have appealed to the holy places as proof of salvific events in the pre-baptismal catecheses, but the burden of proof did not fall on any loca sancta in the post-baptismal lectures. (51) As recent interpreters have persuasively claimed, rites of initiation were intimately bound to a reenactment of Christ's passion. (52) In the eucharistic part of the initiation, however, the prescribed gestures, sensory perceptions, and images continued to conjure alternate realities, but not necessarily biblical events. That cooperation between inner and outer senses to reenact biblical events was more pronounced in the post-baptismal instructions from Syria; namely, instructions by John Chrysostom and Theodore of Mopsuestia.


Twelve catechetical lectures have survived from John Chrysostom's days as presbyter in Antioch. (53) Over the course of the thirty-day instruction period for baptism, (54) Chrysostom delivered several catechetical lectures. Sermons from Lent in 388 and 390 survive. For Chrysostom, the Eucharist provided the occasion for staging and enacting events of Christ's passion and the cosmic struggle his death unleashed. Already in 386 at the feast day of the martyr Philogonius, Chrysostom likened the Eucharist to Christ's manger: "Here lies the body of the Lord, not wrapped in swaddling-clothes as formerly, but attired completely with the Holy Spirit." Like the magi, the baptized could approach him with gifts--now, of virtue. (55) The magi typology was significant because it historicized the perceptions and bodily movement of those who would approach Christ in the Eucharist.

Chrysostom's catechetical instructions reveal his ongoing concern for the communicant's gestures and posture. To him "the show of bare feet and the outstretched hands" presented a vivid reminder of "captivity of the body" under Satan. (56) As Chrysostom reminded these new Christians, you "pray on bent knees, with your hands outstretched to heaven ... to remind yourselves by your posture from what evil you are delivered." (57) In addition to remaining attentive to their own postures of remembrance, worshipers were to understand other participants' gestures. For instance, when the deacons extended hands upwards, they became angels carrying up the catechumen's words, "I renounce thee, Satan." (58) By calling attention to these hands, feet, and bent knees, Chrysostom put in the worshiper's mind bodies (their own and those of the angels) through which to see the unseen.

Along with these gestures and postures, baptism produced visible changes in facial and bodily appearance. Angels noticed the transformation in the communicant, now a spectacle to behold. "From today [Easter] on," Chrysostom warned, "the arena stands open, the contest is at hand, the spectators have taken their seats. Not only are humans watching the combats but the host of angels as well." (59) Yet, Satan was also in the audience and moved by the spectacle. As Chrysostom explained, the eucharistic wine tinted the worshiper's mouth so as to frighten Satan. "If the devil merely sees you returning from the master's banquet, he flees faster than any wind, as if he had seen a lion breathing forth flames from his mouth." (60) Chrysostom mounted other gruesome spectacles by which to chase out Satan. Already at the baptismal anointing of the head, Satan had to "turn away his eyes. For he does not dare to look you in the face when he sees the lightning which leaps flash forth from it and blinds his eyes." (61) In these prebaptismal sermons, Chrysostom equipped the catechumens with a host of bodily images by which to imagine themselves as they appeared to Satan, to other Christians, and to the angels. The imagined arena that contained these mental images followed the new Christian to the altar.

In addition to the imagined arena, Chrysostom often set these bodily images in domestic spaces: the eucharistic wine was compared to the blood the Israelites smeared on doorposts. Eucharistic wine appeared to Satan as the "blood of the truth smeared on the mouths of the faithful." (62) This gory deterrent forced Satan to spare all behind the marked door. The Passover allusion is striking not only for its rendering of the eucharistic wine into protective blood, but also for its translation of the communicant's body into architectural form (specifically, from mouth to bloody doorpost). This transformation of the worshiper into built space appeared even earlier in the pre-baptismal sermons on exorcism, where Chrysostom called on catechumens to imagine themselves as houses made fit to receive the "King of heaven." (63) To this end, the exorcists took the catechumen and "as if they were preparing a house for a royal visit, they cleanse [the] minds by those awesome words." (64) The notion that the participant becomes space was carried over to the Eucharist, as in Chrysostom's description of how tasting the Eucharist transformed one's mouth into "doors of a temple which holds Christ." (65)

Chrysostom made inventive use of architectural imagery to inculcate an embodied mnemonics. He often situated the catechumen's body in space, as when he described preparation for baptism as "stand[ing] at the threshold ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])." (66) Elsewhere he reminded the catechumens, as the hour of baptism approached, that they "stand at the threshold of the royal palace and are about to approach the very," (67) throne where sits the King. Once baptized and no longer enslaved, the neophytes were "led to the awesome table [to] taste of the Master's body and blood and become a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit." (68) They were called not just to imagine space, but even to move within it and approach its furnishings.

Nothing appears out of the ordinary here: temples, doors, and houses were (and remain) stock metaphors for the Christian life and, more specifically, the Christian body. (69) Yet, there is more at work in these metaphors than simply appealing to traditional symbols. Chrysostom called on new Christians to behold and become built space, peppering his appeals with imagery of bodies in space as well as bodies as space. By these adjurations, Chrysostom united metaphorical spaces with sensory perception. Thus, he generated images of built spaces from discrete sensory experiences.

This power of sensory experience to conjure built space appeared in sermons delivered in the climactic days preceding Easter. Thresholds and entrances were most prominent in the description of Adam's expulsion from paradise. (70) More important than why God placed Adam outside Eden was the issue of where. Chrysostom claimed that even in exile Adam remained close enough to gaze continuously on Eden's forbidden entrance. As Chrysostom explained God's use of punishment by proximity: "He blocked off the entrance ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) to [paradise], so that man might see each hour the joys of which he had deprived himself.... When we enjoy blessings without perceiving ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) the manner of the benefaction as we should, and they are deprived of them, we get a fuller perception ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) of these blessings." (71) In short, paradise lost was paradise perceived. Yet hope remained, as Chrysostom assured his audience that even a remote and obstructed gaze could anticipate "fuller perception." Also worth noting is how this fuller perception was limited to one sense: vision. Beyond the gates, his hearers were not told that Adam breathed in Paradise's fragrances nor eavesdropped on its melodies. (72) Fuller perception, here, meant fuller vision.

Although spoken in the context of baptismal rites, Chrysostom's mention of Adam's gaze provided an important backdrop for the eucharistic experience. Like Adam, the worshiper watched the eucharistic rites from a distance. Moreover, the altar, the centerpiece of these rites, stood (like paradise) in a visible yet demarcated space. As architectural historians point out, in late-fourth-century Byzantine churches there was a partition separating the apse from the nave. Yet this templon, a waist-high screen with large window-like openings, did not prevent worshipers from viewing the Eucharist. Only in later centuries did the templon's openings become filled in with icons and curtained doorways to become the iconostasis, or icon screen, so familiar to visitors of Orthodox churches today. (73)

Given that eucharistic rites were conducted openly before baptized Christians, what then does "fullness of perception" mean? To catechumens anticipating their first Communion, "fullness of perception" might be interpreted as witnessing the eucharistic rites, a privilege they had so far been denied. Can we be certain, however, that visibility was the real goal? So often in the catechetical sermons Chrysostom called upon neophytes to see through "different eyes" ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), (74) suggesting that visibility alone is not enough. The limits of such visibility become apparent in his treatment of the eye.

In the sermons Chrysostom alluded to fuller or enhanced perception when he discussed something he called "the eyes of the soul" ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), as well as "spiritual eyes" ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), or "eyes of faith" ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). (75) All these terms stood for a mode of seeing that sees what is imperceptible to the eyes of the body, or physical vision. Moreover, this form of spiritual sight could "make the unseen visible from the seen." (76) Chrysostom appealed to this special sense whenever seeking to differentiate between the visible world that the eyes of the body see and the immaterial, spiritual realm perceptible only to a spiritual eye. Most significant for our purposes is the observation that Chrysostom's most detailed explanations of the concept appeared in his explanations of ritual, as in this prebaptismal sermon: "God has made for us two kinds of eyes: those of the flesh and those of faith. When you come to the sacred initiation, the eyes of the flesh see water; the eyes of faith behold the Spirit. Those eyes see the body being baptized; these see the old man being buried. The eyes of the flesh see the flesh being washed; the eyes of the spirit see the soul being cleansed. The eyes of the body see the body emerging from the water; the eyes of faith see the new man come forth brightly shining from that sacred purification. Our bodily eyes see the priest as, from above, he lays his right hand on the head and touches [him who is being baptized]; our spiritual eyes see the great High Priest as He stretches forth His invisible hand to touch his head." (77) In this quotation, rhetoric assumes a split vision, so to speak: both the physical and the spiritual cooperate in the rite of baptism. By this oscillation, Chrysostom kept the two modes of vision tightly connected, even if distinct in content. I stress this cooperation to underscore how Chrysostom refused to abandon the eyes of the body. For instance, he might have claimed that onlookers see by a plainer mode of vision whereas participants enjoy another, higher sense. Yet he avoided this strategy, neither making claim to exclusive use of spiritual vision, nor eschewing the eyes of the body. Everyone, baptized or not, sees with the bodily eyes. Yet, the astute Christian sees with both types of vision.

Even if both modes of vision operate in the individual, are they compatible? Indeed, on occasion, Chrysostom could present both ways of seeing as being at odds, as in the following description: "The eyes of the body can see only those things which come under their perception, but the eyes of faith are quite the opposite ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). For they see nothing of visible things, but the invisible things they see as if they were lying before their eyes. This is faith: to see the invisible as if it were visible." (78) "Seeing nothing" of the visible might suggest that spiritual vision is antithetical to physical sight. This incompatibility is reminiscent of Origen and others who claimed that the physical and spiritual vision cannot coexist. Yet their compatibility rests in the "as ifs." Unlike Origen, whose notion of the spiritual senses arose from a matrix of exegetical problems, the "as if" situates Chrysostom's theory in more experiential concerns, arising mainly in ritual settings. (79)

If read in the context of ritual, Chrysostom's descriptions of opposite and incompatible modes of perception take on different meaning. For later in the same homily that describes the baptism ceremony and its culmination in first Communion, Chrysostom exhorted his audience to "change your thoughts from earth to heaven, from visible things to those which are unseen. And we see the objects of bodily sight more clearly with the eyes of the spirit." (80) Rather than construct the terms of opposition, Chrysostom revealed their continuity, such that the eyes of the spirit transformed and enhanced bodily sight rather than ignoring it. The goal, then, was not to reject one's bodily perceptions, but to learn how to see more clearly and attentively through them.

To illustrate this enhanced mode of sight Chrysostom appealed to several exemplars. In one sermon, he praised some visiting monks for "their resolution to pay no heed to visible things ... [and] their preference for the invisible and unseen." (81) Here, the eye of faith gained its power from attentiveness ("paying heed") or discernment ("preference"). The martyrs, he claimed, were capable of re-visualizing their own deaths, such that the persecutor stoked the flames of Gehenna. With their "eyes of faith," however, "they pictured in their minds heaven and its ineffable blessings." (82) Thus, more than simply selecting images, the eye of faith engaged in picture-making, a means of generating mental images by which to augment--or, on some occasions, counter--what the eyes of the body saw.

The mind's ability to generate the needed mental images was critical for the eyes of faith. Just as the martyrs, when they saw "that visible fire burning brightly ... sketched ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) for themselves the fires of Gehenna" or "pictured in their minds ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])" heaven, so too the neophyte had to make (and preserve) for herself a new image. Thus, Chrysostom compared preparing for baptism to making a sketch. As he reminded an audience lapsing into bad habits, portrait painters "trace in outline the royal images before they daub on the true colors." Until the color was applied, the artist was free to erase, correct, or substitute the image. "You do the same thing," he exhorted his audience: "Consider that your soul is an image. Before daubing on the true color of the Spirit, erase the bad habits." (83) Like the wine-stained mouth of the communicant, the entire moral self was tinctured through mental imagery.

Like Cyril, then, Chrysostom equipped the neophyte with a range of imaginal spaces and bodies to assist the physical body that was about to receive the Eucharist. Although Chrysostom dwelt less on the sensory confusion the worshiper might have encountered (recall Ambrose's Hoc est totum?), he relied on mental imagery that would allow the worshiper to see bread as body and taste wine as blood. Like Cyril, he reminded neophytes of their newfound splendor, radiance, and brilliance, symbolized by their white robes. (84) In addition to brilliance, Chrysostom added color and space to the imaginal bodies he conjured, giving chromatic depth to the baptismal robes and the taste of eucharistic wine still fresh on the lips. Perhaps more than light, color rendered the Christian body into a spectacle awesome to satanic and angelic spectators alike. (85)


In a town about one hundred miles north of Antioch, the catechumenate looked to its presbyter Theodore of Mopsuestia (ca. 350-428) for instruction. Shortly before he became bishop in 392, he composed a set of catechetical lectures. (86) Of his sixteen extant catechetical lectures, preserved only in Syriac translation of the original Greek, the final two comment on the Eucharist. (87) Although he is remembered mainly as a biblical exegete, his catecheses reveal a pastoral concern for the neophyte's perceptions.

For Theodore, the bodies in worship were the key to interpreting the eucharistic process. More than Cyril or Chrysostom, who commented on the bread, the wine, or the communicant's own hands extended, Theodore offered a more telescopic view, paying closer attention to the celebrants and the visual impressions they created throughout the liturgy. At the outset he called attention to the deacons and especially their garments, "taller than they are," with a stole on the left shoulder floating backward and forward, symbolizing their freedom. (88) Through these deacons, we "picture in our minds the invisible hosts," just as "through the priest we picture Christ our Lord in our mind." (89) Many other figures crowded this visual spectacle, prompting Theodore to call it a "complete representation" of Christ's passion. (90) As the deacons arranged the linens on the altar, the worshiper was to see Christ's burial shroud. As the eucharistic bread was placed on the altar, the communicant was to picture Christ's body laid out for burial in a sepulcher. (91) And when the deacons stood beside the altar and fanned the air, the gesture was supposed to trigger memories of funeral rites for dignitaries. (92)

Theodore's attention to every detail of the Eucharist may seem guided by the search for one-to-one correspondences with Christ's passion. (93) Yet, this passion play is missing key characters; namely, Jesus' executioners. Theodore explained their absence: "It is incongruous and impermissible that an iniquitous image be found in the symbols of our deliverance and salvation." (94) Instead, Theodore advised the neophytes to picture Jesus being led by "the invisible hosts of ministry," as played by the deacons, and not by the Jews. Forgetting the Jews (and Romans) may appear at odds with Theodore's conception of the Eucharist as a "complete representation." Yet "complete," here, does not imply historical verisimilitude. Rather, Theodore predicated completeness on ritual cohesion; that is to say, on a selective set of memories by which to gather in the sacred past. (95) Any incongruous memories that might disrupt the ritual representation were left aside. If he was to uphold the image of (high) priest presiding over sacrifice, then Jesus' first-century executioners had to be erased from the picture. More "memory palace" (96) than historical reenactment, then, the Eucharist was represented by Theodore of Mopsuestia as a tidy, if fragile, assemblage of mental images.

What held these images together? For Theodore, silence was essential both as a framing device and as a tool for self-understanding. He often reminded his audience that they were silent players in this drama. As the deacons carried out their preparations, the "onlookers" had to remain silent until the service began; as Theodore described this silent anticipation, "every one must look at the bringing out and spreading of such a great and wonderful object with a quiet and reverential fear and a silent and noiseless prayer." (97) In addition to enhancing the visual spectacle unfolding before the congregation, silence permitted the audience to become actors in the drama. Theodore compared these silent witnesses to the "invisible hosts [who] kept quiet while looking for the expected resurrection." (98) Or, they played the role of apostles, as when Theodore returned to his funerary similes: "When we see the oblation on the Communion table--something which denotes that it is being placed in a kind of a sepulchre after its death--great silence falls on those present. Because that which takes place is awe-inspiring, they must look at that which takes place with a quiet and reverential fear." (99) When silence "fell" it did not erase or remove the observer, but made her instead a player in the drama. Far from removing the observer from the reenactment, silence served as a vehicle for presence. When silent, the communicants could become apostles stunned by grief in the days following Jesus' death. (100) Silence, then, not only "fell on those present," but made the worshiper "present."

Although silence prompted and contained visualization, it was also shattered by further commands. After the priest's prayers, the kiss of reconciliation, and the reading the names of the living and the dead, the deacon shouted, "Look at the oblation!" and before offering the sacrifice, "Look at the sacrifice!" By these commands, Theodore commented, "every one has been prepared to look at the object that is being placed (on the altar)." (101) Not only the crier, but even the priest prepared the people by summoning a series of mental images. When the priest commanded, "Lift up your minds," it was a reminder "that although we are supposed to perform this awe-inspiring and ineffable service on earth, we, nevertheless, ought to look upwards towards heaven and to extend the sight of our soul to God." (102) These mental images and gazes served to "prepare and set in the right direction the souls and the minds of those present." (103) Likewise, the priest "looks toward heaven and directs his eyes upwards," when taking the holy bread in his hand. (104) The goal in all these imaginative processes was to "prepare us all to see through the things that are placed." (105)

The fixed gaze and mental imagery carried over as the priest broke the bread. As Theodore described the visual work required, "we must picture in our mind that Christ our Lord, through each portion of the bread, draws nigh unto the person who receives him, while greeting him and speaking to him of his resurrection." (106) In this injunction, Theodore underscored the act of seeing. He noted that "while everyone who is about to receive the Communion is looking, the Church crier shouts: `Let us be attentive!'" Likewise the priest, in uttering the phrase, "The holy thing to the holies," "directs the mind of all to look at the greatness of the oblation." (107) In this script, every verbal command required an appropriate gaze.

In addition to directing the eye, Theodore also prescribed fixed gestures. As with Cyril, the right hand nesting in the left prepared to receive "the body of the King." (108) Thus, when the priest said, "The body of Christ," the communicant knew "not to look at that which is visible but to picture in your mind the nature of this thing which is placed." (109) Again, the physical perception was twinned with mental image. By this long sequence of mental images and redirected gazes, Theodore outlined the sensory preparation required for seeing Christ in the Eucharist.


I have called attention to the visual cues and mental images these three preachers evoked in teaching about the Eucharist. To be sure, this sensory map is far from complete; the aural and olfactory dimensions of this ritual merit serious consideration, not to mention the kinesthetic aspects--that is to say, how entire bodies, and not just eyes or hands, moved in the context of liturgy. Still, we may pause at this point and consider the visual evidence. What effect did this mental imagery have? I have called attention to the rhetorical texture of these sermons, especially to their abundant use of visual detail. Most apparent in Theodore of Mopsuestia's sermons are word-pictures analogous to types of rhetorical tropes ancient historians and orators used to render events from the past visible to the mind's eye. (110) Such visibility through verbal description came to be known under many names in the rhetorical handbooks--descriptio, ekphrasis, enargeia, evidentia, repraesentio, illustratio, demonstratio. Yet, they shared one common goal: to awaken the audience's mental senses so that they might visualize the event, person, or place being described.(111) Enargeia, as it is commonly called, relied on the audience's capacity not just to receive these mental images but even to supplement them with more images.(112) This power of language to generate visibility is critical, I believe, for understanding the fourth-century worshiper's sensory involvement in the Eucharist.

Yet, it is also important to go beyond rhetorical tropes and ask exactly what types of mental images are at play here. What did it mean for Cyril to silence the naysaying tastebuds with shining faces, white garments, and the dim mirror? Why did some mental images (the Jews) have to be displaced? How did the nesting hands formed in the shape of a throne appear to a mind filled with other images? When John Chrysostom's neophyte pictured the angelic spectators or their own wine-stained, blood-dripping yet fiery mouths, how did they look at the eucharistic cup? Or, when Theodore of Mopsuestia instructed the audience to picture in silence a body laid out for burial, its shrouds, and its attendants, what did the command to "behold!" mean? All this image-making, image-breaking, and image-relocation demands closer consideration.

Every one of the images described above is either of a body or for a body: corpse, face, wings, hands, lips, as well as garments, portals, thrones, arenas, and sepulchers. The imagination--in its most literal sense of the imago--is hard at work. (113) These sermons remind us that prior to the command to "taste and see that the Lord is good," (Ps. 34:9) there were a host of mental images that anticipated that sensory encounter. Accompanied by prescribed postures and gestures, such as looking up, looking down, or nesting hands, the mental images invoked by preachers constructed and thereby situated divine presence in eucharistic space: on tables, in thrones, even in the cup of one's hand.

The rhetoric of the senses in these sermons served the important function of rendering the liturgical body material. That materialization, however, emerged gradually, as the catechists taught new Christians to recognize physical perceptions and reshape those perceptions through mental imagery. By this steady layering of imaginal bodies over physical perceptions, the initiate was prepared to perceive and receive the Eucharist. (114) One may call this symbolism, but never substitution, since the physical perceptions launched and directed the imaginal ones. No teacher asked an initiate to "think away" the bread. Rather, its mere-ness was to be confronted and reimagined. In short, the eyes of faith were no escape from one's embodied experiences of the Eucharist.

Underlying the mental imagery of Cyril of Jerusalem, John Chrysostom, and Theodore of Mopsuestia is the conviction that the worshiper approached and encountered divine presence in space, and not in some disembodied illusionism. (115) And the body was the starting point for such consideration. These eyes of faith produced the images by which to "do" and "show" the Eucharist. (116) In pursuing an ideal of a "complete representation" of the Christ's Passion, then, Theodore was inviting neophytes to stage, then enter, the salvific events of the sacred past. Yet as the mental imagery promoted in these eucharistic instructions suggest, any outward displays were predicated on inward ones. The neophyte's power to generate an image of Christ's body, of oneself, and even of the cherubim allowed new Christians to trust the physical senses in their desire to know God in the Eucharist.

This investigation of the sensory rhetoric found in the eucharistic instructions given by Cyril, Chrysostom, and Theodore has larger implications for the study of fourth-century Christian ritual. In recent decades, liturgical scholars have questioned Gregory Dix's famous claim that the fourth century witnessed a "liturgical revolution," whereby eschatological hope was eclipsed by greater emphasis on a historical process of redemption.(117) Dix's claim that fourth-century Christians experienced a changed relation to time has come under particular scrutiny. As Robert Taft points out, eschatology and history were never mutually exclusive categories for Christians, either prior to or since Constantine's legalization of Christianity.(118) And as John Baldovin concludes in his study of the stational liturgy, it is more accurate to say that Christians experienced a changed relation to space. (119) As the stational liturgy and pilgrims' devotions expanded, Christians laid claims to more physical places beyond church walls. What the eucharistic instructions and their integration of physical and interior perceptions reveal, however, is that there were mental spaces to be claimed. The eyes of faith became the tools by which neophytes constructed imaginal bodies to serve as new spaces for the Eucharist. In this regard the workings of the senses--both exterior and interior--were interwoven in their efforts to forge a deeper relation to time and place through ritual.

(1.) Ambrose, De sacramentis 3:15 (SC 25bis:164; FOTC 44:295): "Isti, lavisti, venisti ad altare, videre coepisti quae ante non videras." I employ the following abbreviations: ACW = Ancient Christian Writers (New York: Newman/Paulist, 1946-); DictSp = Dictionnaire de Spiritualite (Paris: Beauchesne); FOTC = Fathers of the Church (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1947-); SC = Sources chretiennes (Paris: Cerf, 1942-). I am grateful to Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Derek Krueger, Andrew Jacobs, and the journal's anonymous reviewers for commenting on earlier versions of this essay.

(2.) Ambrose, Myst. 4.19 (SC 25bis:164; FOTC 44:11); cf. 1 Cor. 2:9.

(3.) Ambrose, De sacramentis 3.10 (SC 25bis:66; FOTC 44:272): "Ne forte aliqui dixerit: Hoc est totum? Immo hoc est totum, uere totum."

(4.) Ambrose, Myst. 9.50 (SC 25bis:184; FOTC 44:23): "Forte dicas: Aliud uideo, quomodo tu mihi adseris quod Christ corpus accipiam?"

(5.) Ambrose, Sacr. 4.4.14-20, esp. 14, 20 (SC 25bis:108-12; FOTC 302-4); cf. Sacr. 6.1.2 (SC 25bis:138). Ambrose's predicament illustrates well Catherine Bell's remarks on "misrecognition" as a feature of ritual and how ritual produces "strategies for differentiating" ritual acts from quotidian ones, Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 69-93, esp. 74, 82, 90-91.

(6.) Ambrose, Sacr. 3.10 (SC 25bis:66; FOTC 44:272).

(7.) Ibid., 3.2.12 (SC 25bis:98).

(8.) Ibid., 3.2.12-14 (SC 25bis:98-100); cf. John 9:6-7.

(9.) In Ambrose's symbolic imagination, there would be no need for symbols if humans were less squeamish. In other words, if we could stand the sight of blood, then the use of wine would be unnecessary. "Sicut enim mortis similitudinem sumpsisti, ita etiam similitudinem pretiosi sanguinis bibis, ut nullus horror cruoris sit et pretium tamen operetur redemptionis." Sacr. 4.4.20 (SC 25bis:112) [emphasis added].

(10.) A useful starting point for investigating interior/spiritual senses in patristic theology is Mariette Canevet's "Sens spirituel," DictSp 14 (1990): cols. 599-617; more detailed studies of individual writers are to be found in B. Fraigneau-Julien, Les sens spirituels et la vision de Dieu selon Symeon le Nouveau Theologien (Paris: Beauchesne, 1985).

(11.) On church orders of the first three centuries, see Paul F. Bradshaw, The Search for the Origins of Christian Worship: Sources and Methods for the Study of Early Liturgy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 80-92. For a thorough study of initiation rites, see Victor Saxer, Les rites de l'initiation chretienne du IIe au Vie siecle: Esquisse historique et signification d'apres leurs principaux temoins (Spoleto: Centro italiano di studi sull'alto medioevo, 1988). Useful introductions and translated excerpts available in Thomas M. Finn, Early Christian Baptism and the Catechumenate: West and East Syria, Message of the Fathers of the Church (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1992). On the varieties of eucharistic practices, see Andrew McGowan, Ascetic Eucharists: Food and Drink in Early Christian Ritual Meals (Oxford: Clarendon, 1999). For later commentaries, see Rene Bornert, Les commentaires byzantins de la divine liturgie, du VIIe au XVe siecle (Paris: Institut francais d'etudes byzantines, 1966); Hans-Joachim Schulz, The Byzantine Liturgy: Symbolic Structure and Faith Expression (New York: Pueblo, 1986), esp. 15-76. Robert Taft offers a sophisticated explanation of these developments in "The Liturgy of the Great Church: An Initial Synthesis of Structure and Interpretation on the Eve of Iconoclasm," Dumbarton Oaks Papers 34-35 (1980-81): 45-75, esp. 68-75; reprinted in Robert Taft, Liturgy in Byzantium and Beyond (Aldershot, U.K.: Variorum, 1995).

(12.) An expert study on these liturgical developments is John F. Baldovin, The Urban Character of Christian Worship: The Origins, Development, and Meaning of the Stational Liturgy, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 228 (Rome: Pont. Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 1987).

(13.) See Georgia Frank, The Memory of the Eyes: Pilgrims to Living Saints in Christian Late Antiquity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), esp. chapters 1, 4.

(14.) The fluidity of Lent in the fourth century is most apparent when one compares Cyril's earlier Catecheses (ca. 350) with later descriptions of Lent, found in Egeria's diary (ca. 384) or his post-baptismal catecheses (ca. 386 or later). On changes in the Lenten calendar, see Baldovin, Urban Character, 90-93. On the implications of this change for pinpointing the date of Cyril's catecheses to 351, see Alexis Doval, "The Date of Cyril of Jerusalem's Catecheses," JTS 48 (1997): 129-32, esp. 131.

(15.) For a concise treatment of the social and theological developments that prompted the need for catechetical literature, see Paul Meyendorff, "Eastern Liturgical Theology," in Christian Spirituality, vol. 1, Origins to the Twelfth Century, World Spirituality, eds. Bernard McGinn, John Meyendorff, and Jean Leclercq, no. 16 (New York: Crossroad, 1989), 350-64, esp. 353-57.

(16.) E.g., Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, De ecclesiastica hierarchia, PG 3.424c-428a; Maximus Confessor, Mystagogia, prol. (PG 90-91). The fourth-century catechesists studied here are typical of "Antiochene" approaches to liturgy and the Bible, with a greater emphasis on historical events and the humanity of Christ. Later commentators, such as Pseudo-Dionysius and Maximus, reflect the "Alexandrian" approach, with greater emphasis on symbolical interpretations and spiritual meaning. For a helpful history of the shifting hermeneutics of liturgy, see Schulz, Byzantine Liturgy, 25-49; Taft, "Liturgy of the Great Church," 59-65 and "Liturgy and Eucharist: East," in Christian Spirituality, vol. 2, High Middle Ages and Reformation, World Spirituality, ed. Jill Raitt, no. 17 (New York: Crossroad, 1989), 415-26. Translated excerpts from later liturgical commentaries are available in Sheerin, Eucharist, 116-37.

(17.) Bradshaw (Search for the Origins, 80-130) provides a useful checklist and bibliographies; see also Thomas M. Finn, The Liturgy of Baptism in the Baptismal Instructions of St. John Chrysostom (Washington: Catholic University Press, 1967); F. van de Paverd, Zur Geschichte der Messliturgie in Antiocheia und Konstantinopel gegen Ende der vierten Jahrhunderts. Analyse der Quellen bei Johannes Chrysostomos, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 187 (Rome: Pont. Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 1970); Van de Paverd, "Anaphoral Intercessions, Epiclesis and Communion-rites in John Chrysostom," Orientalia Christiana Periodica 49 (1983): 303-39.

(18.) On this transformation, see E. D. Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage in the Later Roman Empire, A.D. 312-460 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1982).

(19.) Whereas previous scholars date the lectures to 348-50, based on Jerome's mention of them (de Vir. Illust 112 = PL 33:707a; see Walker, Holy City, 410), Alexis Doval persuasively argues for the year 351 ("Date of Cyril of Jerusalem's Catecheses," 129-32).

(20.) See Baldovin, Urban Character, 45-104. Jonathan Z. Smith offers a perceptive reading of the overlap between pilgrims' rituals and liturgical sensibilities in the Itinerarium Egeriae (ca. 384), To Take Place: Toward Theory in Ritual (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 88-95.

(21.) E.g., Cyril of Jerusalem, Catecheses 4.10; 10.19; 13.4, Joseph Rupp, ed., Sancti Cyrilli Opera, vol. 2 (Munich, 1860); Leo P. McCauley and Anthony A. Stephenson, trans., The Works of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, 2 vols. (FOTC 61, 64; Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1969-70). On the value of the holy places for Cyril's political and ecclesial aspirations, see Jan Willem Drijvers, "Promoting Jerusalem: Cyril and the True Cross," in Jan Willem Drijvers and John W. Watt, eds., Portraits of Spiritual Authority: Religious Power in Early Christianity, Byzantium, and the Christian Orient, Religions in the Greco-Roman World 137 (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 79-95, esp. 81-85; P. W. L. Walker, Holy City, Holy Places? Christian Attitudes toward Jerusalem and the Holy Land in the Fourth Century (Oxford: Clarendon, 1990), esp. 37-38, 330-46.

(22.) Cyril of Jerusalem. Catecheses mystagogicae. Text: Auguste Piedagnel, ed., Cyrille de Jerusalem: Catecheses mystagogiques (SC 126; Paris: Cerf, 1966; hereafter MC). Quotations are taken from McCauley and Stephenson's translation in The Works of Cyril of Jerusalem (FOTC 64).

(23.) The debate centers on manuscripts attributing the lectures to John (386-417), differences in literary style and theology, and the liturgical practices reflected in the sermons. W. J. Swaans's arguments against Cyril's authorship appear in "Apropos des `Catecheses mystagogiques' attributes a S. Cyrille de Jerusalem," Museon 55 (1942): 1-43; on earlier suspicions to this effect, see F. L. Cross, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Lectures on the Christian Sacraments (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1951), xxxv-xxxix. Swaans's arguments convinced A. Piedagnel, Cyrille de Jerusalem: Catecheses mystagogiques (SC 126; 1966), 18-40, and McCauley and Stephenson, Works of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (FOTC 64), 2:143-49. E. J. Yarnold's defense of Cyril's authorship ("The Authorship of the Mystagogic Catecheses attributed to Saint Cyril of Jerusalem," Heythrop Journal 19 [1978]: 143-61), prompted more recent scholars to favor Cyril's authorship (e.g., Piedagnel's reconsideration in the 1988 edition, Cyrille de Jerusalem: Catecheses mystagogiques, [SC 126bis; appendix, 177-87]. Yarnold's argument is summarized in Yarnold, "Baptismal Catechesis," in The Study of Liturgy, eds. Cheslyn Jones et al. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 91-95, esp. 92-93. On the debate, see J. Quasten, Patrology (Westminster: Christian Classics, 1983) 3.63-67; Bradshaw, Search for the Origins, 126-27. I am sufficiently convinced by Yarnold's claims to attribute these lectures to Cyril. My argument does not rest on this judgment, however, since there is sufficient evidence to date these eucharistic instructions to the late fourth century.

(24.) "I delayed until the present occasion, calculating that after what you saw on that night I should find you a readier audience now when I am to be your guide to the brighter and more fragrant meadows of this paradise" (MC 1.1; SC 126:82, 84; FOTC 64:153 [modified]).

(25.) Cat. 10.19. Cf. Cat 18.33, which anticipates first Communion, but mentions only what is to be heard.

(26.) Timothy (Kallistos) Ware, The Orthodox Church, rev. ed. (Harmondsworth, U.K.: Penguin, 1964), 278. Cf. Luke 4:18-19; cf. Isa. 61:1.

(27.) MC 3.4 (SC 126:126; 64:171-72).

(28.) On Origen and the spiritual senses, see K. Rahner, "Le debut d'une doctrine des cinq sens spirituels chez Origene," Revue d'Ascetique et de Mystique 13 (1932): 113-45; Marguerite Harl, "La `bouche' et le `coeur' de l'apotre: deux images bibliques de `sens divin' de l'homme (`Proverbes' 2, 5) chez Origene," in Forma Futuri: Studi in onore del Cardinale Michele Pellegrino (Turin: Bottega d'Erasmo, 1975), 17-42. On the evolution of Origen's thought, see John M. Dillon, "Aisthesis Noete: A Doctrine of Spiritual Senses in Origen and Plotinus," in Hellenica et Judaica: Hommage a Valentin Nikiprowetzky, eds. A. Caquot, M. Hadas-Lebel, and J. Riaud (Leuven: Peeters, 1986), 443-55, esp. 443-49. On Origen's place in the long history of this theory, see Canevet, "Sens spirituel," esp. cols. 599-600; Pierre Adnes, "Gout Spirituel," DictSp 6 (1967): cols. 626-44; Fraigneau-Julien, Sens spirituels et la vision de Dieu, 27-43.

(29.) C.Cels. 7.34 (SC 150:90-92).

(30.) Rahner, "Debut d'une doctrine," 116.

(31.) C.Cels. 1.48 (SC 132:202-6); cf. Prov 2:5 (cf. LXX).

(32.) E.g., C. Cels. 2.72 (SC 132:456-58); Rahner, "Debut d'une doctrine," 117-21.

(33.) On the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], see Rahner, "Debut d'une doctrine," 122.

(34.) C. Cels. 7.39 (SC 150:102-4).

(35.) C. Cels. 7.33 (SC 150:88).

(36.) MC 3.3 (SC 126:124; FOTC 64:170)

(37.) This bridging of physical matter and divine presence is consistent with Cyril's theology of the holy places; see P. W. L. Walker, Holy City, Holy Places? Christian Attitudes to Jerusalem and the Holy Land in the Fourth Century (Oxford: Clarendon, 1990), 37-38, 311-46.

(38.) Of the five sermons belonging to the MC, the noun [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and its verbal form, [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], appear only in the eucharistic sermon (see MC 4.1, 3, 6, 9).

(39.) MC 4.6 (SC 126:148; FOTC 64:183 [slightly modified]; cf. 5.15, 20.

(40.) MC 4.9 (SC 126:144; FOTC 64:185-86).


(42.) MC 4.9 (SC 126:144; FOTC 64:186); cf. 2 Cor. 3:18.

(43.) See note 37.

(44.) Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat. 13.4 (FOTC 64:6); cf. Cat. 10.19 (FOTC 61:208-9); Cat. 16.4 (FOTC 64:78).


(46.) MC 5.6 (SC 126:152-54; FOTC 64:195-96); cf. Isa. 6:2-3.

(47.) I choose the term "imaginal" over "imaginary" as a way to underscore the power of words to generate mental images and capture the embodied origins of these interior perceptions.

(48.) MC 5.21; cf. Hom. cat. 6; Mingana, 113 on the supplicant's outstretched hand and downward gaze and the regal symbolism of the nesting hands. For biblical resonances with the outstretched hand, see Theophilus of Alexandria (d. 412), On the Mystical Supper: "Evilly did Adam stretch forth his hand, not holding in reverence my salvific command ... He stretched forth his hand and made a dire exchange ... of the blessed life ... [for] lamentable death." (PG 77.1016-29, esp. 1020B, trans. in Sheerin, 150-51); more positive connotations in John Chrysostom, Cat. 3.26 (ACW 31:65) on Moses' hands stretched to heaven as a type for the priest.

(49.) Cf. holy kiss at MC 5.3; in another set of baptismal homilies (SC 366:242.20-21), John Chrysostom renders the kiss of peace into architectonic imagery: he reasons that since Christians are temples of Christ, when they kiss on the mouth they kiss the temple door tenderly.

(50.) MC 5.22. On this practice, see F.-J. Dolger, "Das Segnen der Sinne mit der Eucharistie," Antike und Christentum 3 (1932): 230-44.

(51.) Cyril refers to the Church of the Resurrection, where the rites and lectures have taken place; MC 2.4, 7, but these references are in the context of pre-eucharistic baptismal rites. Cf. McCauley and Stephenson's alternative reading, The Works of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem FOTC 64:150-51.

(52.) Annabel Jane Wharton, "The Baptistery of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and the Politics of Sacred Landscape," DOP 46 (1992):313-25, esp. 320-21; Smith, To Take Place, 89-95.

(53.) The larger collection is known as the Stavronikita series (hereafter, Stav.), edited by Antoine Wenger in Jean Chrysostome: Huit catecheses baptismales SC 50 (1957); the shorter Papadopoulos-Kerameus series (hereafter, P-K), edited by Auguste Piedagnel in Jean Chrysostome: Trois catecheses baptismales SC 366 (1990), and two sermons edited by B. de Montfaucon in PG 49:223-40 (hereafter, Montf.). These three collections are conveniently translated by Paul Harkin in St. John Chrysostom: Baptismal Instructions (New York: Paulist, 1963). Stav. 1-8 correspond to Instructions 1-8 in ACW; P-K 1-3 = Instructions 9-11 in ACW; Montf. 1 (= PK 1) = Instruction 9 in ACW; and Montf. 2 = Instruction 12 in ACW. Internal evidence identify Stav. 1-3 as pre-baptismal and Stav. 4-8 as post-baptismal. Quotations are from Harkin's translation (occasionally modified).

(54). Cat. (P-K) 1.2, 29 in SC 366:114. See Harkin, John Chrysostom, 290 n. 10.

(55.) Hom. de beato Philogono (PG 48:753); trans. Wendy Mayer and Pauline Allen, John Chrysostom, The Early Church Fathers (London: Routledge, 2000), 192.

(56). Cat. (Stav.) 2.14; ACW 31:48. On the connection between baptism and slavery, see I. A. H. Combes, The Metaphor of Slavery in the Writings of the Early Church: From the New Testament to the Beginning of the Fifth Century, (JSNTSup 156; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998), 110-20, 157-61.

(57). Cat. (Stav.) 2.18 (SC 50:143-44; ACW 31:50). Cf. Cat. (P-K) 3.4 (SC 366:230).

(58). Ibid., 2.20 (SC 50:145; ACW 31:51).

(59). Ibid., 3.8 (SC 50:155; ACW 31:58).

(60). Ibid., 3.12 (SC 50:158; ACW 31:60).

(61.) Ibid., 2.23 (SC 50:146-47; ACW 31:52)

(62.) Ibid., 3.15 (SC 50:159; ACW 31:61).

(63.) Ibid., 2.12 (SC 50:140; ACW 31:47).

(64.) Ibid.

(65.) Ibid., 3.15 (SC 50:159; ACW 31:61). See also n. 49.

(66.) Ibid., 2.12 (SC 50:139; ACW 31:47).

(67.) Ibid., 2.29 (SC 50:149; ACW 31:54).

(68.) Ibid., 2.27 (SC 50:149-50; ACW 31:53).

(69.) 1 Cor. 3:16-17; also worth mentioning is the role of architecture in ancient memory systems: see Mary Carruthers, The Craft of Thought: Meditation, Rhetoric, and the Making of Images, 400-1200, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature 34 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 16-22.

(70.) Cat. (Stav.) 2.3-7; ACW 31:44-45.

(71.) Ibid., 2.6; ACW 31:45.

(72.) E.g., Chrysostom's idea that paradise before the Fall marks a time when humans were "able to listen" to God (Serm. in Gen. 1.2 [SC 433:148]); or Ephrem the Syrian's evocative descriptions of the fragrance of paradise in Hymns on Paradise, 1.5; 4.7; 5.6; 9.17; 11.1, 9-10, 13, 15, citations taken from Susan Ashbrook Harvey's innovative analysis in "St. Ephrem on the Scent of Salvation," JTS 49 (1998): 109-28, esp. 122-23.

(73.) See Cyril Mango, "On the History of the Templon and the Martyrion of St. Artemios at Constantinople," Zograf 10 (1979): 40-43, esp. 40. Matters of visibility and concealment are expertly handled in Thomas F. Mathews, The Early Churches of Constantinople: Architecture and Liturgy (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1971), 105-80, as well as Sharon Gerstel's, Beholding the Sacred Mysteries: Programs of the Byzantine Sanctuary (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999), esp. 37-67, which traces the eventual graphic representation of fourth-century homiletical tropes onto twelfth-century apse decoration. I thank Dr. Glenn Peers for calling my attention to Gerstel's study. On the iconostasis see Ware, The Orthodox Church, 276-77.

(74.) Cat. (Stav.) 1.31 (SC 50:124).

(75.) Cat. (Stav.) 2.9-10 (SC 50:138), cf. 2.17, 28 (SC 50:143, 149); cf. 4.20 (SC 50:193) [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. The term is also applied to biblical figures, such as Adam, "the first-formed man with prophetic eyes" (Cat. (Stav.) 1.13; ACW 31:27), or David, who saw with "prophetic eyes" (Cat. 3.2.25 [P-K]; SC 366:216; ACW 31:163 [= Hom. 11.2]) chose his words so as to prevent base perceptions and "[lead] your understanding upward" (Cat. 3.2.32-35 [P-K]; SC 366:218; ACW 31:163 [= Hom. 11.8]). On seeing biblical figures with the eyes of faith, see Frank, Memory of the Eyes, 102-70.

(76.) Cat. (Stav.) 2.9 (SC 50:138; ACW 31:46).

(77.) Cat. 3.3.9-22 [P-K]; SC 366:220-22; ACW 31:164 [= Hom. 11.11-12])

(78.) Cat. (Stav.) 2.9 (SC 50:138; ACW 31:46).

(79.) On the polemical role of the spiritual senses in theories of divine anthropomorphism, see esp. Dillon, "Aisthesis Noete," 445-48. My own thinking on the role of sense perception in engaging the ritual body has been shaped by the work of Catherine Bell, Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 160; Bell, "Performance," in Critical Terms for Religious Studies, ed. Mark C. Taylor (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 205-224, esp. 208-9. Recent work on the function of display in ritual (or, "showing and doing") raises interesting questions about how the physical senses might engage that process. See Tom F. Driver, The Magic of Ritual (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991), 88-89; Susan Ashbrook Harvey, "Embodiment in Time and Eternity: A Syriac Perspective," St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 43 (1999): 105-30; on the relevance of performance theory to late antique asceticism see Patricia Cox Miller, "Desert Asceticism and `The Body from Nowhere,'" JECS 2 (1994): 137-53.

(80.) Cat. (Stav.) 2.28 (SC 50:149): [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

(81.) Ibid., 8.6; ACW 31:121.

(82.) Ibid., 7.18 (SC 50:238; ACW 31:111).

(83.) Montf. 2 (PG 49.235 = Harkin's ACW trans., Hom. 12.23-24 [31:180]). I thank Dr. Margaret Mitchell for bringing this passage to my attention.

(84.) E.g., Cat. (Stav.) 1.25; 2.27; 3.1; 4.17-18; 7.3, 23-25, 27.

(85.) Cf. ibid., 3.12 (SC 50:158; ACW 31:60). It is interesting to note that John Chrysostom's biographer, Palladius, uses similar pigmentation metaphors to describe the effects of Chrysostom's reforms on Constantinople. The city changed color to piety. Dial. 5 (SC 341:24): [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

(86.) Bradshaw, Search for the Origins, 122-23, esp. n. 43.

(87.) Text and translation by A. Mingana in Woodbrooke Studies, vol. 6, Commentary of Theodore of Mopsuestia on the Lord's Prayer and on the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist (Cambridge: Heifer and Sons, 1933).

(88.) Hom. cat. 5; Mingana, 84.

(89.) Ibid., 5; Mingana, 85.

(90.) Ibid., 5; Mingana, 86.

(91.) Ibid., 5; Mingana, 88.

(92.) Ibid., 5; Mingana, 87.

(93.) Cf. Schulz, Byzantine Liturgy, 18-19.

(94.) Hom. cat. 5; Mingana, 85-86.

(95.) Mary Carruthers captures this dialectic between "social memory-making" and "social forgetting" in her insightful analysis of John Chrysostom's recollection of the contested sanctuary at Daphne in his panegyric on the martyr Babylas (The Craft of Thought, esp. 46-57).

(96.) I borrow the term from Jonathan Spence's study of Jesuit missionaries and the arts of memory, The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci (New York: Viking Penguin, 1984).

(97.) Hom. cat. 5; Mingana, 87-88.

(98.) Ibid., 5; Mingana, 88.

(99.) Ibid.

(100.) Ibid.

(101.) Ibid., 5; Mingana, 95; a scene recapitulated in the opening of the following sermon, Ibid., 6; Mingana, 97-98.

(102.) Ibid., 6; Mingana, 99.

(103.) Ibid.

(104.) Ibid., 6; Mingana, 105.

(105.) Ibid., 6; Mingana, 103.

(106.) Ibid., 6; Mingana, 107.

(107.) Ibid., 6; Mingana, 108-9.

(108.) Ibid., 6; Mingana, 113.

(109.) Ibid.

(110.) E.g., Ann Vasaly, Representations: Images of the World in Ciceronian Oratory (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 20, 89-102; on the link between visualization and ekphrasis, see Frank, Memory of the Eyes, 16-29.

(111.) On the importance of visualization for these descriptive techniques, see Liz James and Ruth Webb, "`To Understand Ultimate Things and Enter Secret Places': Ekphrasis and Art in Byzantium," Art History 14 (1991): 1-17, esp. 3. On this trope, see G. Zanker, "Enargeia in the Ancient Criticism of Poetry," Rheinisches Museum fur Philologie 124 (1981): 297-311. Mary Carruthers offers an important reminder that enargeia appealed to all the senses and not just to vision (Craft of Thought, 132-33).

(112.) Longinus, De subl. 15.1-2 (LCL 214-17).

(113.) I am indebted to Mary Carruthers' recent work on the role of mental imagery in Christian meditation, Carruthers, The Craft of Thought, esp. 7-99.

(114.) My thinking on this process has been shaped by the work of Elliott Wolfson's study of how rabbinic prayer depended on a carefully orchestrated series of mental images, even bodily ones, "Iconic Visualization and the Imaginal Body of God: The Role of Intention in the Rabbinical Conception of Prayer," Modern Theology 12 (1996): 137-62, esp. 140.

(115.) The eyes of faith come close to what theorist Catherine Bell (Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, 90) would call the "strategies of differentiation" by which ritual actors differentiate a ritual act from similar, conventional acts.

(116.) The terms are borrowed from Driver's discussion of the "commitment of the body" to "display" in the context of ritual performance (Magic of Ritual, 88): "Doing and showing are so wed that the display becomes a permanent part of the body."

(117.) Gregory Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy (New York: Seabury, 1945; reprint 1982), 305: "As the church came to feel at home in the world, so she became reconciled to time. The eschatological emphasis in the eucharist eventually faded ... the Eucharist came to be thought of primarily as the representation, the enactment before God, of the historical process of redemption, of the historical events of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus by which redemption had been achieved."

(118.) Taft, "Historicism Revisited," Studia Liturgica 14, 2-4 (1982): 97-109, reprinted in Taft, Beyond East and West, 31-49, esp. 33, 40-41.

(119.) Baldovin, Urban Character, 104.

Georgia Frank is an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Colgate University.
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