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  • The Liturgical Planning of Byzantine Churches in Cappadocia
  • Debra M. Israel
Natalia B. Teteriatnikov. The Liturgical Planning of Byzantine Churches in Cappadocia. Orientalia Christiana Analecta, 252 Rome: Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 1996. Pp. 240.

Natalia Teteriatnikov’s volume satisfies on various levels. In its scope, its departure point (typological groups of liturgical furnishings in the rock-cut churches of Cappadocia), and its disciplined methodological approach (functional, historical and socio-economic), The Liturgical Planning of Byzantine Churches in Cappadocia succeeds both as a work for the specialist and as an instructional text. This book provides an analysis of types of liturgical furnishings in churches and, also, a treatment of the arrangement and function of the furnishings in specific parts of buildings that have liturgical import, the arrangements testifying to the liturgical function of the architectural parts. It is also a study of the social structure of the local communities which these church buildings were designed to serve not simply as religious, but as public and social places, as well.

An examination of the liturgical planning in the Byzantine province of Cappadocia, Teteriatnikov aims to identify the manner in which these rock-cut churches were used (25–28), to search for their architectural roots, and to trace their development from the early Christian period through the 13th century, the final period of activity in Cappadocian ecclesiastical foundations. Unfolding against the background of various historical events (e.g., the political consolidation of the region from Christianization through the Byzantine empire, the Arab invasion, iconoclasm, and the Turkish occupation), Teteriatnikov attempts to provide a basis for a historical understanding of church planning within a particular province with a particular geographical, administrative, and social [End Page 329] setting (28–31). Taking a synthetic approach, her comparative study of the rock-cut churches of Cappadocia combines aspects of liturgical planning with burial customs, as well as social and topographic aspects, to reveal the changes and modifications in planning and furnishings over time. She argues that the formation of Cappadocian church liturgical planning developed side by side with the growth of art, ritual, and society (25–31).

Teteriatnikov traces over four chapters, the design and function of furnishings in sanctuaries (33–78), the naos (79–127), entrance compartments (129–64), and burial places (165–82). A fifth chapter treats the social and economic implications of the ecclesiastical foundations and liturgical arrangements (183–216), and terminates with a succinct summary of conclusions (225–32). Proceeding systematically, Teteriatnikov deals not only with design types but their variants (e.g., single apse and multiple sanctuary arrangements in single-nave, cruciform, or basilica schemes), concluding each chapter with comparative considerations of types and function elsewhere.

Teteriatnikov reconstructs liturgical practice in the excavated churches of Cappadocia based on the physical and decorative evidence and the testimony of inscriptions. She maintains that the shape of the liturgy and, therefore, the placement of liturgical furnishings in churches, is a reflection of the relationship between the laity and the monks and clergy, and that the nature of this relationship was based on geographic, religious, economic, and social factors. She further holds that economic conditions and financial support of Cappadocian ecclesiastical foundations constitute a key factor in understanding the tremendous number of churches and monasteries in various districts of this Byzantine province (187). These factors are held to illustrate the actual involvement of donors—religious or laity—in church planning and decoration. Thus, Teteriatnikov focuses our attention on patronage in Cappadocia (197–216, not yet treated exhaustively) and particularly two aspects of it: the approximate extent and motivations of lay patronage and, second, the nature of the monastic-lay relationship.

Teteriatnikov’s study of the liturgical planning of Byzantine Cappadocia is quietly exemplary. The presentation of the evidence, as well as the comparative and interpretative materials, like the methodology, is clear and direct, the prose; like the discussion, simple and unadorned. Discussion is laid out so explicitly that the student, like the seasoned scholar, can follow it meaningfully, taking away a lucid apprehension of the history of Byzantine churches from the early Christian through the Middle Byzantine periods.

If there is a weakness, it is in the illustrative material. Whereas discussion of the Cappadocian foundations...

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