Syriac Dialogue Hymns and New Comedy
Worth More than Many Sparrows - Essays in Honour of Willi Braun - Sarah E. Rollens
Robyn Faith Walsh [+]
University of Miami
Robyn Faith Walsh is Associate Professor of the New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of Miami, Coral Gables. An editor at the Database of Religious History, her articles have appeared in Classical Quarterly and Jewish Studies Quarterly, among other publications. Her first monograph, The Origins of Early Christian Literature: Contextualizing the New Testament within Greco-Roman Literary Culture was recently published with Cambridge University Press.
Reflecting on Willi Braun’s “Rhetoric, Rhetoricality, and Discourse Performances,” this essay reconsiders Syriac dialogue hymns, with an eye to how the use of stock characters and storylines, dynamic dialogue, and development within New Comedy may have acted as a foil for the hymnists. Much like the theater, the dialogue hymn offered space for the retelling of well-known myths with familiar characters and plots. Coupled with the popularity of comedic theater as a local, civic amusement, the dialogue hymn arguably embodies what amounted to an open competition between the church and the theater. It also may be a relic of speech-in-action— the live performance preserved in the fixed text.