Brian Anastasi Butcher


Doxological Disclosure: Liturgical Knowing in the Byzantine (Orthodox) Christian Tradition


The commonplace definition and use of the term “orthodoxy” belies its rich polysemy: in the Eastern (Orthodox) Churches it implies not only “correct belief,” but also—and equiprimordially—“correct glory.” Such a connection, moreover, is not haphazard, since in the Christian East true knowledge of God is understood to be inextricably bound up with proper worship, as expressed in its venerable liturgies. Predominant among these is the Byzantine Rite, that liturgical tradition born from the Church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) in Constantinople in the early centuries of the common era, which flourished historically in the Mediterranean basin and eastern Europe and, as a result of diaspora and mission, is today celebrated across the globe. The Byzantine Rite is constituted by a complex configuration of the arts—including music, poetry, choreography, vesture, iconography and architecture—whose purpose is to disclose the mysteries of faith; that is, to engender a particular kind of knowing. This paper will provide an overview of the symbolic Gestalt of Byzantine liturgy, analyze its theology of/in the arts, and reflect on the knowledge/knowing to which it potentially gives rise. An accompanying PowerPoint presentation, incorporating images and a video clip of contemporary Canadian Byzantine Rite liturgical life, will provide those who are unfamiliar with this tradition with an audio-visual frame of reference.


Brian Anastasi Butcher is a Ph. D. candidate in theology at Saint Paul University in Ottawa; his thesis explores the pertinence of Paul Ricoeur’s philosophy to the interpretation of Byzantine liturgy. Currently he is sessional lecturer in theology at Redeemer Pacific College/TWU: his course “The Christian Apologetics of C.S. Lewis” (RELS 375) will be offered next in January 2010. Alongside serving as subdeacon and cantor in the Byzantine-Rite Catholic eparchy (diocese) of New Westminster (Ukrainian Catholic Church), he directs the RPC schola, which sings Gregorian chant and English plainsong for Masses at the College; he is also a founding member, with several TWU alumni, of the Kenosis Male Chorus, and an accompanist for the Cameron Academy of Dance. Brian is married with six young children.