Bible Review 7:2, April 1991

Sung Sermons

Melodies, morals and biblical interpretations in Byzantium

By R. J. Schork

Sermons in stone,” “sermons in glass”—these multimedia figures of speech should surprise no one, since for long periods of time and in a broad range of places the largely illiterate faithful in Europe learned the Bible and the teachings of the church in ways that had nothing to do with formal, academic instruction—or even books. The sermons that taught them were carved in stone and embedded in glass. People saw and then asked questions about sculptured tableaux on the portals of Romanesque churches or about the intricate patterns of form and color in stained glass windows of Gothic cathedrals. The answers given by the initiated were the people’s scriptural commentaries, catechisms and handbooks of theology.

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