Noli Me Tangere

Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art

 

Touch Me Not

 

Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art

‘Touch Me Not’ theme in Byzantine Iconography and Western Art

 

I must say right away that although I am an Art lover, I do not consider any of the paintings presented in the analysis below as either ‘beautiful’ or ‘Art’, let alone spiritual, in any sense. (Ok. probably the first three, the early Middle Ages, pass the mark) Their ‘fleshliness’ and ‘wordliness’ deeply offend and appall me. Just look at the corresponding Byzantine icons “Touch Me Not” (in Greek: Μη μου άπτου, Mi mou áptou), which show the appearance of the Resurrected Christ to Mary Magdalene as described in the Gospel of John :

Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art

Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art

Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western ArtMagdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art

Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art

If the long flowing hair of a female Saint is considered (and rightly so) not common in Orthodox iconography, inappropriate for a number of reasons, and a borrowing from Western art of the time, how are we to feel with the Resurrected Jesus wearing a floppy sun hat ?!

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Oh, the spirituality and ineffable, ethereal Beauty of Byzantine Art, especially its iconography! How movingly does Andrei Tarkovsky capture it in the concluding scene of Andrei Rublev!

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Let us now turn to the original article and more about ‘my’ views on the matter in the coming week’s blog posts. Hopefully I should be able to explain better my mind as to why i do not consider such paintings ‘Art’, let alone ‘Sacred’.

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“In his Gospel John records that on the Sunday morning following Jesus’s crucifixion, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and, finding it empty, started to weep, for she thought someone had taken the body. In her worry and frustration, she “turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus . . . supposing him to be the gardener” (John 20:14–15). It isn’t until he says her name that she recognizes him.

Artists—mainly from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries—have latched onto this detail of mistaken identity, representing Jesus carrying gardening tools, like a shovel or a hoe, and sometimes sporting a floppy gardener’s hat. A few artists, such as Lavinia Fontana, Rembrandt, and the illuminators of the book of hours and passional shown below, have even shown Jesus in full-out gardener’s getup. (In her commentary on John, Dr. Jo-Ann A. Brant mentions that the fact that Jesus left his burial clothes in the tomb, coupled with Mary’s confusion, might provoke the “fanciful speculation” that Jesus actually borrowed the gardener’s clothes. Nevertheless, a different understanding is more likely behind the artistic representations; read on.)

 

Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Attributed to Jacopo di Cione (Italian, 1365–1398/1400), Noli me tangere, ca. 1368–70. Pinnacle panel from a Florentine altarpiece, now in the collection of the National Gallery, London.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene, from a Biblia Pauperum (typological picture book), ca. 1405, Netherlands. British Library, London.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Fra Angelico (Italian, ca. 1395–1455), Noli me tangere, 1440–42. Fresco from the convent of San Marco, Florence, Italy.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Israhel van Meckenem (German, ca. 1445–1503), Noli me tangere, 1460–1500. Engraving. British Museum, London.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Sandro Botticelli (Italian, 1445–1510), Noli me tangere, ca. 1484–91. Predella panel from an altarpiece from the convent of Sant’Elisabetta delle Convertite, Florence, Italy, in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Master of the Dark Eyes, “Christ Appears to St. Mary Magdalene as a Gardener,” from The Hours of the Eternal Wisdom: Lauds (KB, 76 G 9), fol. 88r, ca. 1490. Koninklijke Bibliotheek (National Library of the Netherlands), The Hague.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
“Christ Appears to Mary Magdalene as a Gardener” (detail), ca. 1503–1504, England. Fol. 134v, Vaux Passional(Peniarth 482D), National Library of Wales.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Noli me tangere, 16th century, Limoges, France. Enamel plaque, 27 × 19 cm.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528), Noli me tangere, 1511. Woodcut. British Museum, London.
Titian (Italian, ca. 1488–1576), Noli me tangere, ca. 1514. Oil on canvas, 110.5 × 91.9 cm. X-ray photographs show that Christ was originally painted wearing a gardener’s hat.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Hans Baldung (German, ca. 1484–1545), Christ as a Gardener, 1539. Oil on canvas, 110.1 × 84.1 cm. Hessen State Museum, Darmstadt, Germany.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene, 1540/45. Tapestry, 210.3 × 268 cm. Design attributed to Michiel Coxcie (Flemish, 1499–1592) or Giovanni Battista Lodi da Cremona (Italian, active 1540–1552). Woven in the workshop of Willem de Pannemaker (active 1515–ca. 1581). Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Noli me tangere, ca. 1560–70, Germany. Ink and wash on paper.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Agnolo Bronzino (Italian, 1503–1572), Noli me tangere, 1561. Oil on canvas, 291 × 195 cm. Musée du Louvre, Paris.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Lavinia Fontana (Italian, 1552–1614), Noli me tangere, 1581. Oil on canvas, 80 × 65.6 cm. Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669), Noli me tangere, 1638. Oil on panel, 61 × 49 cm. Royal Collection Trust, London.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Noli me tangere by Edward Burne-Jones (design) and William Morris (execution), 1874. Bottom right stained-glass panel of the Vanderpoel Window, Trinity Church, Saugerties, New York.

The portrayal of Jesus as a gardener isn’t meant to suggest that Jesus was literally gardening that day—though he might have been, and that’s amusing to think of. Rather, it alludes to his role as one who “plants” us and grows us. He gets his hands dirty in the soil of our hearts, bringing us to life and cultivating us with care so that we flourish.

According to Franco Mormando, whose research involves the religious sources of Renaissance and Baroque Catholic art, Jesus the gardener was a traditional theme of orthodox scriptural exegesis and popular preaching that traces its origins to patristic times. In a 2009 article for America magazine, he writes,

Mary’s misidentification was meant to remind us, so the pre-modern exegetes taught, of a spiritual reality: Jesus is the gardener of the human soul, eradicating evil, noxious vegetation and planting, as St. Gregory the Great says, “the flourishing seeds of virtue.” Although today out of circulation, this teaching was disseminated in [the fourteenth through eighteenth centuries] in such popular, authoritative texts as Ludolph of Saxony’s Life of Christ (a book that played a crucial role in St. Ignatius Loyola’s conversion) and [starting in the seventeenth century] Jesuit Cornelius a Lapide’s Great Commentary on Scripture.

The Bible makes explicit the connection between God the Father and gardening. Genesis 2:8 tells us he was the world’s first gardener: “And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.” The prophets sometimes wrote of God’s gardening in a metaphoric sense—for example, in Isaiah 61:11: “For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, / and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, / so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise / to sprout up before all the nations.” Or Jeremiah 24:6, in which God says of the exiles from Judah, “I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up.” Furthermore, Jesus’s parable from John 15 casts God as a vinedresser.

John’s Gospel, though, goes even further to ascribe this role to Jesus, and to present his resurrection as the genesis of something new. For example, the prologue to his Gospel starts, “In the beginning . . . ,” an obvious echo of the prologue to Genesis. In 19:41 he mentions that Jesus was buried in a garden, and in chapter 20, that he was found walking around in it. He mentions twice that Jesus rose on “the first day” of the week, as if this were the first day of a new creation (cf. Genesis 1:35). And then he has Mary mistake Jesus for the gardener. When taken in concert with Paul’s conception of Jesus as the Second Adam (Romans 5:12–211 Corinthians 15:21–22, 45), these allusions suggest that Jesus is the gardener of the new Eden, doing what Adam could not do. His resurrection broke ground in this garden, marking the beginning of a massive restoration project.

That’s why Jesus is so often found toting a shovel in the resurrection art of Renaissance and Baroque Europe. He is the caretaker of humanity, bending down to bring us up, to make us full and healthy and beautiful. Charles Spurgeon preached a sermon on the topic back in 1882, in which he declares,

Behold, the church is Christ’s Eden, watered by the river of life, and so fertilized that all manner of fruits are brought forth unto God; and he, our second Adam, walks in this spiritual Eden to dress it and to keep it; and so by a type we see that we are right in “supposing him to be the gardener.”

More recently, Andrew Hudgins—inspired by the imagination of visual artists—wrote a poem called “Christ as a Gardener.” You can read it in full here.

I’m curious to know whether any modern artists have exegeted John’s text in the same way—that is, portraying Jesus as a gardener in his appearance to Mary Magdalene. Besides a pen, brush, and chalk work by Anton Kern, done in a Baroque style, I am aware of only a few, the first of which is Graham Sutherland’s 1961 altarpiece in the St. Mary Magdalene Chapel of Chichester Cathedral. Commissioned by Walter Hussey, one of the twentieth century’s most important patrons of sacred art, Graham Sutherland painted two versions of Noli me tangere. Hussey chose the one that shows a door opening out into a garden and Christ wearing a sun hat made of straw, pictured below. (Click here to see a longer shot of the painting in its chapel context.) The alternate version is in the Pallant House Gallery, also in Chichester.

Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Graham Sutherland (British, 1903–1980), Noli me tangere, 1961. Oil on canvas. St. Mary Magdalene Chapel, Chichester Cathedral, England.

Back in 2010 Jyoti Sahi posted an oil painting on his blog along with three others under the heading “The Resurrection.” I think the signature says 1987, but it’s hard to tell, as it’s cut off in the photo. In it Jesus carries an oversize scythe while Mary anoints his feet, just as she had done a week earlier, when she had shed tears in anticipation of his death (John 12:1–8). The outline around her is reminiscent of a kernel of wheat.

Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Jyoti Sahi (Indian, 1944–), The Resurrection. Oil on canvas.

Most people associate scythe-wielding figures in art with the Grim Reaper—that is, Death—due to an iconography that stretches all the way back to the fourteenth century. But the Bible associates scythes with Jesus, the lord of the harvest (Matthew 3:12Matthew 13:2430Revelation 14:14–20), the harvest being the end of the world. Only those who have rejected Jesus need fear his Second Coming, for those who have grown in his word will be gathered up into heaven. This painting in particular reminds me of Psalm 126:5: “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy”—a beautiful song of ascents that has been set to music by, among others, Bifrost Arts. Mary had wept penitently over her sin, and then later over the impending execution of her Lord, and still again at his grave, but now, because of his Resurrection, she enters into his presence with shouts of joy, and even more cause for worship.

Lastly, He Qi’s Do Not Hold On to Me from 2013 also references the Jesus as gardener metaphor, but because the head of the shovel isn’t visible, it’s not as obvious.

Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
He Qi (Chinese, 1950–), Do Not Hold On to Me, 2013. Oil on canvas.

Do you know of any artworks from recent times that take on this theme?

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The Lord’s Hands

The Israelites’, and mine … , Utter Despair and Bondage

The week before Holy Week I experienced, at the deepest core of my being, the Israelites’ impasse, their despair, helplessness and fear. My pilgrimage had come at a dead end!

The Israelites’, and mine …,  Miraculous Release from Captivity

Bright Week, that is the week immediately after Resurrection Sunday, was sealed with the Israelites’ (and mine) ineffable joy, relief, jubilation at their freedom, miraculous release from captivity and awe at God’s Works! What a reversal of fortune! What a most true Orthodox ‘Easter’, a most literal Pascha! If anybody had told me that I would live to see this, I would have told him “Impossible”! But nothing is impossible for God! Nothing! Glory to God for all things!

Prefiguration of Orthodox Easter, Pascha, the Israelites crossing the Red Sea

The Lord is my strength and my song;
    he has given me victory.
This is my God, and I will praise him—
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him!

… “Your right hand, O Lord,
    is glorious in power.
Your right hand, O Lord,
    smashes the enemy.

Prefiguration of Orthodox Easter, Pascha, Crossing of the Red Sea Bernardino Luini, c. 1481-1532

Crossing of the Red Sea
Bernardino Luini, c. 1481-1532

“Who is like you among the gods, O Lord
    glorious in holiness,
awesome in splendor,
    performing great wonders?
12 You raised your right hand,
    and the earth swallowed our enemies.

Prefiguration of Orthodox Easter, Pascha, the Israelites crossing the Red Sea

Crossing of the Red Sea
Bernardino Luini, c. 1481-1532

… The power of your arm
    makes them lifeless as stone
until your people pass by, O Lord,
    until the people you purchased pass by.
17 You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain—
    the place, O Lord, reserved for your own dwelling,
    the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hands have established. (Exodus 15, A Song of Deliverance)

Prefiguration of Orthodox Easter, Pascha, Icon of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea

God’s Hands

These two weeks I have also come to pay attention to God’s Hands!

Have a close look at the Resurrection icon and Christ’s hands! Notice how Christ is pulling Adam from the tomb by the wrist, and not the hand. Why is that so? Have you ever observed this ‘detail’? And if so, has it ever occurred to you that this ‘detail’ might be revealing?

 

Christ's resurrection, Orthodox Easter, Pascha, Christ's resurrection, Orthodox Easter, Pascha, Resurrection icon

I have to confess that this Pascha was the first time in my life that I noticed how dramatically Christ is shown in the icon pulling Adam, the first man, from the tomb. Probably because I had never felt that badly the need of Someone pulling me along, forcefully, even if roughly.

Christ's resurrection, Orthodox Easter, Pascha, Resurrection icon

In the Icon, Jesus Christ stands victoriously in the centre. Robed in Heavenly white, He is surrounded by a mandorla of star-studded light, representing the Glory of God.  Eve is to Christ’s left, hands held out in supplication, also waiting for Jesus to act. This humble surrender to Jesus is all Adam and Eve need to do, and all they are able to do. Christ does the rest, which is why He is pulling Adam from the tomb by the wrist, and not the hand.

 

Christ's resurrection, Orthodox Easter, Pascha, Resurrection icon

In all Resurrection icons I have seen since, even where Jesus is pulling both Adam and Eve from the tomb, he is always pulling them by the wrist, and never the hand.

Christ's resurrection, Orthodox Easter, Pascha, Resurrection icon

Christ's resurrection, Orthodox Easter, Pascha, Resurrection icon

 

Praised be His name, the Lord pitied me, and indeed he dragged me, hurling me across my Red Sea! Now my home will be Great Britain. Which desert is awaiting for me, what revelations, what Mount Sinai? How are the next ’40 years’ of my wanderings going to unfold? Will I ever reach the Promised Land?

So, I am moving to UK, with my spiritual father’s blessing, trying to follow the Holy Spirit there. Indeed, I try to “dwell in my own country, but simply as sojourner. As citizen, I share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigner. Every foreign land is to me as my native country, and every land of my birth as a land of strangers. …” (cf. The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus)

My Lifestyle of course will NOT change– Suitcases 😃 Lover of the Theotokos, Pilgrim, Traveller, Hermit! 
Ah! The Raptures of Living! 

Photis Kontoglou: A Greek Dostoevsky

papadiamandis7

And  a Charles Dickens too

Alexandros Papadiamandis was not a bishop. He was not priest. He was not a monk. He was a simple yet genuinely Orthodox layman who observed those who seized upon the great opportunity and those who failed to do so. His observations, in turn, became the heart of his fictional, but not fictitious, writings. As a layman and as an artist, he had the freedom to explore the great opportunity from every angle and the boldness to point out the obstacles to that opportunity, which are created when the misguided misunderstand the eucharistic and liturgical aspect of ecclesial life that makes that opportunity possible and act on that misunderstanding. … Papadiamandis’s profound understanding of what liturgy is and what liturgy can do enables Papadiamandis to initiate others through his writings into the mystery of this great opportunity. …

[For those in a hurry, you may skip the brief analysis, and go straight to his short story link at the bottom of the page]

papadiamandis90

… Papadiamandis opens another window by letting us see how the liturgy flowers, in all its manifestations, under the right conditions such as those that were present on his native island of Skiathos, and how it withers when fallen human interests deprive it of its proper soil and care. What makes this vision of Papadiamandis so compelling is that he does not merely offer us another philosophy of the liturgy or a new ideology for conservative or liberal reform. Instead, he offers us human examples taken from the experience of day-to-day life in Christ. His priests and lay folk are people with whom we can identify and to whom we can turn for guidance as we enter the same struggle to offer God the worship He is due.

Non-Orthodox readers might well be mystified by the importance of hymnography, architecture, iconography, and ecclesiastical music as sources of life and wisdom for Papadiamandis. They may be tempted to view Papadiamandis as a mystic or, even worse, as a religious fanatic.Such a view would greatly diminish the value of Papadiamandis’s observations and could not be further from the truth. Papadiamandis was a normal, healthy Orthodox Christian. He was a realist and, one could say, an empiricist. By experience, he knew the transfiguring power of the ecclesiastical arts in the Orthodox Church, and the wisdom he gained therefrom entered his fiction in a most natural way.

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St. Nikolaos Planas and Papadiamandis

…  Art is used to instruct the believer in a concrete Orthodox Christian approach to life in its manifold dimensions. The modern term for this ancient teaching technique would be the “multimedia experience,” with visual, musical, linguistic, and even olfactory dimensions. Each sense receives impressions that direct the entire soul to glorify God and repent for its own estrangement from the divine beauty that envelopes the soul during divine worship. Art is used not merely to educate the mind but, more importantly, to shape the heart and redirect its desires and ambitions.

In other words, the liturgical arts are the time-tested tools that the Church uses to heal the faithful and direct them to Christ. In Orthodoxy, the arts are not intended to provide religious entertainment for the senses but to purify them. The theological essence of Orthodoxy is quite precise, and the forms that protect the essence are necessarily precise as well. Those who attained to union with Christ either produced the liturgical arts or affirmed the fact that their use helps lead others to that same union. These artistic creations are the precious fruits of life in the Holy Spirit that lead those willing to be led to the spiritual life of Paradise. They have the purpose not only of opening the heavenly world of God’s glory to the believer, but also of opening up the believer’s own inner world so that he can see his passions and deceitful desires and, by God’s grace, defeat them.

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One hymn in the veritable sea of liturgical texts has the faithful chant (and thus confess), “many times when I am chanting hymns I am also committing sins; for while my mouth utters songs of praise, my soul is pondering unseemly things.”Even the modern psychologist would agree that this brutal honesty about our fallenness and recognition of our hypocrisy is the first step to overcoming them both.

Another aspect of Papadiamandis’s vision that may seem strange in the West is the absolute centrality of the Church as experience. The liturgical life consists of more than a Protestant Sunday worship service or even a Roman Catholic daily mass. It is the oxygen that infuses the atmosphere of the believer’s entire life, enabling him to breathe. The texts from the divine services are what help him make basic decisions in his daily dealings with others. The liturgical life gives meaning to the most basic aspect of created life – time, the coming of day in Matins and the coming of night at Vespers. Simultaneously, it takes the believer beyond time in the Divine Liturgy to the uncreated reality of the glory of the Holy Trinity. Each day in the liturgical cycle is a unique gift of God, a unique opportunity to approach Him in thanksgiving and repentance. This is also reflected by the central icon of the Saint whose memory is celebrated on any particular day as well as by the liturgical texts that change with the hour, the day, and the season.

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In the Orthodox Church, worship is a source of joyful sadness that clears the mind and heart with a sober optimism. It is also a real struggle of body and soul. This athletic aspect of Orthodox liturgical life may also perplex the non-Orthodox reader. Although the importance of pilgrimage is a common theme in the religious texts of Western Christendom, the importance of vigils, which are also associated with pilgrimage, may not be so readily apparent. Vigils enable the believer to give his entire self over to the liturgical life of the Church for an extended period of time. The night hours during which visibility is lessened, enable the believer to focus on turning inward. By devoting these hours of darkness to prayer, although they are the customary time for sleep, the believer offers a small sacrifice to God. In spite of the real struggles a vigil requires, the believer who turns to God for such an extended period of time does not feel as though he is offering God anything of particular significance, but that he is the fortunate recipient of mercy from God. The many blessed hours at prayer humble the soul, soften it, make it less selfish, and thus open it up to the grace of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing gloomy about these vigils. They are illumined by another light and quite naturally become a source of great joy; for, through such vigils, man can find his true self by finding the God of his heart.

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Kollyvades Fathers

… What makes Papadiamandis’s treatment of religious themes unique, apart from the use of the modern novel and short story as a medium, is that his vision is formed by the truly praiseworthy, though much-maligned, Kollyvades fathers. These modern fathers, devoted to the tradition of the Philokalia, refused to separate liturgical practice from dogma and spiritual endeavor for the sake of secondary expediencies of convenience or practicality. They understood that the true goal of liturgy, dogma, and spiritual endeavor is union with Christ. All the details in the rich tapestry of Orthodoxy must serve that goal, or they fray into an incoherent tangled mass of strands leading nowhere at all. The Kollyvades fathers were Papadiamandis’s teachers, and by experience he knew the benefits of following their guidance. …

For Papadiamandis, the way the divine services are conducted and the texts and actions called for by these services form a unity. In particular, humility rather than ostentation is the guide for how the priest should serve, how the chanters should chant, and how the Church should be adorned. This humility is not a forced posturing but the natural outcome of serving the Eucharist with awareness that Christ is the One offering and being offered. … the point of Papadiamandis’s narratives is that the downtrodden, wounded, and despised can be transfigured into the glorious people of God through the Church’s divine worship.

… Humility in liturgical celebrations enables the priest to be shepherded with his flock by Christ, the One True Shepherd. Humility enables the priest to console the suffering. Humility encourages the priest to be dedicated to the divine services and to celebrate them with the fear of God and precision [akriveia]. This precision and fear of God in serving the services as the typicon and sacred canons prescribe, in turn, sanctify the priest, crowning him with the wisdom and understanding needed to be a good physician to the souls under his care.

… A long-hidden literary treasure of Orthodox Greece, the early twentieth-century writer Alexandros Papadiamandis has often been called “the Greek Dostoevsky.” Like his Russian counterpart, Papadiamandis gave a realistic view of contemporary lives nourished with the rich springs of Orthodox spirituality. However, Alexandros Papadiamandis may not only be considered a “Dostoevsky of Modern Greece”, but one can argue, he is a “Charles Dickens of Modern Greece” as well.

“The main difference between the two great writers is, apart from the fact that Dicken’s childhood was much more painful than Papadiamandis’, that while Dickens got married, had a big family, made a fortune out of his writing, won high praise by his contemporaries on both sides of the Atlantic and enjoyed publicity, Papadiamandis remained a single, lonely, poor man, despised by most of his peers and avoided being in the public eye at all costs.” (*)

“The closest parallel to Papadiamandis’s short stories and novels is found in large sections of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, which are likewise saturated with Orthodox teaching taken, in many instances, from texts read during the liturgical services. … Like Dostoevsky, Papadiamandis looked deep into the human soul and found that its beauty and nobility depend not on the power of its intellect, or on the intensity of its desire, but on its genuine relationship with God.”.

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To read the full article “Greece’s Dostoevsky: The Theological Vision of Alexandros Papadiamandis, A Unique Witness to a Unique Opportunity”, The Foreword by Hieromonk Alexis (Trader), The Sacred Monastery of Karakallou, The Holy Mountain of Athos, go to: http://orthodoxinfo.com/phronema/greeces-dostoevsky-the-theological-vision-of-alexandros-papadiamandis.aspx

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For more insights, read Dr. Andrew Herman Middleton’s interview of Dr. Anestis Keselopoulos, professor of Ethics, Pastoral Theology and Orthodox Spiritual Life at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and author of Greece’s Dostoevsky: The Theological Vision of Alexandros Papadiamandis at http://www.roadtoemmaus.net/back_issue_articles/RTE_34/Greeces_Dostoevsky.pdf

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(*) Mystagogy, The Weblog of John Sanidopouloshttp://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2009/12/gleaner-christmas-story-by.html

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Alexandros Papadiamantis’ work is seminal in Modern Greek literature. … It is a body of work, however, that is virtually impossible to translate, as the magic of his language is founded on the Greek diglossia: elaborately crafted, high Katharevousa for the narrative, interspersed with authentic local dialect for the dialogue, and with all dialectical elements used in the narrative formulated in strict Katharevousa, and therefore in forms that had never actually existed. 

Unfortunately not many of his stories are online, but I found one titled “A Village Easter”, Memories of Childhood at http://www.roadtoemmaus.net/back_issue_articles/RTE_34/A_Village_Easter.pdf