TABOR - Tradition and Contemporaneity in the Romanian Orthodox Church
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Brancovan Homiletics and Medicine: From "theological temptation" to "medical skill". Elements of theologia medicinalis in the work of Saint Antimos of Iberia


One of the most relevant ways to interpret the homiletic and pastoral work of Metropolitan Antimos of Iberia is that of a theologia medicinalis. The Didahii [sermons] especially abounds in elements of the medical imaginary, skillfully used in the pastoral work of healing the men and the society sick from various social sins. The theological discourse assumes primarily a therapeutic function, which comes before the catechetic one. In the Antimian work, there are many Christological titles and pastoral metaphors in the context of the building of the first hospital and of the medical development in the 18th century, aspects rendering the first secularization and the crisis of conscience from that time.

The rich medical imaginary of the homiletic pastoral, fervently supported by the Metropolitan scholar Antimos of Iberia is easily decrypted in this study, following the human, social, and cultural context of the time. The most common Christological titles in the Didahii and in the pastoral Antimian writings are "tămăduitoriu" [healer], "doftor" [doctor], "dohtor" [doctor], and "vraci" [medicine man], whereas the teaching and the pastoral act are called "doftoria lumii" [the medicine of the world] and "sănătatea cea duhovnicească" [the spiritual health]. The preeminence of this type of discourse is obvious and it embodies a paradoxical theologia medicinalis, based on the success of medicine and doctors in the first stage of autochthonous modernity, when this science and this profession were free from the symbolic condemnations of the other liberal professions, related to trade and craftsmanship, which were in conflict with the traditional liturgical time.

The rhetoric used in the work for this vast reforming program helps us see the bright figure of the most devout moralist of the early Romanian modernity, a preacher who is congenial to the most important figures in the European Baroque period, in a time when the healing of the body gradually becomes secularized, being placed almost exclusively in the hands of medical instances.

Keywords: Antimos of Iberia, theologia medicinalis, Didahii, healing, medical imaginary, medicine, homiletics