Hesychius of Jerusalem, Homilies 11, 12, On Lazarus (CPG 6575, 6576 = BHG 2214, 2229)
For a partial discussion of the content of these homilies, see the Evidence Discussion.
Saint NameLazarus, friend of Jesus : S01417
Saint Name in SourceΛάζαρος
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Sermons/Homilies
Literary - hagiographical - Accounts of mHagiographical - Other saint-related textsartyrdom
Evidence not before410
Evidence not after450
Activity not before410
Activity not after450
Place of Evidence - RegionPalestine with Sinai
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcJerusalem
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Jerusalem
Major author/Major anonymous workHesychius of Jerusalem
Cult activities - Liturgical Activity
Cult activities - Festivals
Cult activities - Activities Accompanying Cult
- Feasting (eating, drinking, dancing, singing, bathing)
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - lesser clergy
SourceHesychius lived as a monk and priest in Palestine and Jerusalem in the first half of the 5th century. A member of the clergy of the Holy Sepulchre, he was a leading theologian and author, flourishing from the 410s to perhaps after 451. He was a close associate of Juvenal (bishop of Jerusalem 422-458), and participated in the theological debate against Nestorius, supporting Cyril of Alexandria. The date of his death is uncertain. Theophanes reports that he died in the same year as Melania the Younger (ed. de Boor 92, 20: AM 5926), but he is also reported to have been alive when the Council of Chalcedon took place in 451, and to have opposed it.
His surviving works include commentaries and homilies. He is known to have published an ecclesiastical history, which has not survived. The circulation of his works in the Middle Ages seems to have been geographically limited, since they tend to be found in manuscripts from Jerusalem and southern Italy, but hardly ever in Constantinopolitan ones. His homilies are important testimonies for the early stages of development of the liturgical traditions of the church of Jerusalem, and the appearance of a number of feasts with a strong Marian dimension like the 14 February feast of Hypapante (Candlemas) and 15 August.
On the manuscript tradition of Homilies 11 and 12, see Aubineau 1978, 389-401, 442-447:
DiscussionThe two homilies represent an interesting example of how a homilist reworked the same subject in two sermons. They were most probably written for the service on ‘Lazarus Saturday’, the eve of Palm Sunday.
Both homilies open with the metaphorical description of the festival as a spiritual banquet, which may allude to actual celebrations taking place on the day. Homily 1, in particular, refers to the festival as a royal dinner (δεῖπνον), which could point to the late afternoon celebration which was held at the Lazarion in Bethany at the 10th hour (4 pm) on Lazarus Saturday, according to the Armenian Lectionary of Jerusalem. The biblical exegesis of Homily 12 follows more closely the readings prescribed for that service by the Lectionary. Both homilies focus on Lazarus’ descent into Hades, his meeting with the righteous dead of the Old Testament (in Homily 11 only), and his resurrection.
BibliographyText, French translation, and commentary:
Aubineau, M., Les homélies festales d’Hésychius de Jérusalem I: les homélies I-XV (Subsidia Hagiographica 59: Brussels, 1978).