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Toward a Theology of ErosTransfiguring Passion at the Limits of Discipline$
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Virginia Burrus and Catherine Keller

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780823226351

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823226351.001.0001

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Homoerotic Spectacle and the Monastic Body in Symeon the New Theologian

Homoerotic Spectacle and the Monastic Body in Symeon the New Theologian

(p.99) Homoerotic Spectacle and the Monastic Body in Symeon the New Theologian
Toward a Theology of Eros

Derek Krueger

Fordham University Press

Symeon the New Theologian (949–1022), arguably the most important Byzantine religious thinker between John of Damascus in the eighth century and Gregory Palamas in the fourteenth, often presents salvation as a heavenly marriage. Scholars have long noted Symeon's frequent use of erotic and nuptial imagery to explore the relationship between the monk and God. What scholars have generally failed to notice or account for is that much of this imagery reflects homoeroticism. This chapter uncovers in the writings of Symeon the New Theologian evidence of a startlingly rich homoerotic imaginary that foregrounds the male monastic body as the site of erotic transformation or deification. The chapter detects possible echoes in Symeon's work of the teasingly cloaked erotic exchange between Alcibiades and Socrates with which Plato's Symposium concludes. While Symeon often invokes divine eros in his understanding of the process of deification, it is debatable whether this parable and its interpretation are “consistent with the New Theologian's use of nuptial imagery elsewhere”.

Keywords:   Symeon, male monastic body, deification, eros, nuptial imagery, homoeroticism, monk

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