Original Research - Special Collection: Romania

The trees in the middle of Paradise (Gn 2:9) during the Great Lent: Orthodox hymnography as biblical interpretation

Constantin H. Oancea
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a6699 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6699 | © 2021 Constantin H. Oancea | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 April 2021 | Published: 17 August 2021

About the author(s)

Constantin H. Oancea, Department of Orthodox Theology, Faculty of Theology, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Sibiu, Romania; Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


The article examines the interpretation of the Scripture in Byzantine hymnography during the Great Lent. Some notable recent contributions focus on Andrew of Crete’s and Romanos the Melodist’s compositions, illustrating the hymnographic way of understanding the Scriptures. The author of this study presents a selection of stanzas from hymns of the Triodion that refer to the trees of Paradise. Hymnography perceives the trees in Genesis 2–3 in direct connection with the cross. Only rarely is the tree of life a metaphor for Jesus, as the shadow of the tree of the cross is seldom a metaphor for protection. Another interesting aspect in relation to hymnography is the fact that it represents a type of intertextual exegesis of biblical texts. Hymnographers interpret passages from Genesis by using texts from Psalms, Prophets and especially from the New Testament, combining images and biblical texts in the depiction of liturgical moments.

Contribution: Compared with previous research, this article discusses some rare hymnographic interpretations (shadow of the cross; cross in the middle of the earth). The analysis accentuates that the hymnic approach to the Scripture is a form of intertextual exegesis.


trees of Paradise; Byzantine Hymnography; cross; Triodion; Lent; intertextuality


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doi: 10.4102/hts.v77i4.6701