Homiletics. The art of religious discourse and preaching of sermons, homilies, and catechetical instruction. It has been practiced in Ukraine since its Christianization (see Christianization of Ukraine) in the late 10th century, when it was employed to propagate the new religion. Slavic homilies were initially introduced from Bulgaria; new ones were then locally created or translated from the Greek. The oldest extant Rus’ sermon is the panegyrical ‘Slovo o zakoni i blahodati’ (Sermon on Law and Grace, 1051) by the eloquent Metropolitan Ilarion. Other famous Rus’ preachers were Hegumen Moisei of the Vydubychi Monastery, the author of ‘Pokhvalne slovo’ (Sermon of Praise, 1198), and Bishop Cyril of Turiv (d 1182), who freely dramatized events from the Gospel and was called the ‘new Chrysostom’ (see Saint John Chrysostom). Alongside didactic sermons (eg, by Saint Theodosius of the Caves, d 1074), describing the duties of monks, condemning paganism and social inequality, and exhorting the faithful to observe the church's teachings, a genre of Byzantine rhetoric dealing with the fine points of theology was fostered.
Homiletics in Kyivan Rus’ evolved until the Mongol invasion and the sacking of Kyiv in the mid-13th century, after which it was continued on a lesser scale in the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia, which was less affected by the invasions from the east. Translations and newly composed collections of sermons such as the Izmarahd (Emerald) and Zlataia tsip (Golden Chain) were used. The sermons of Bishop Serapion of Vladimir (d 1275) dealt with the Mongol invasion and the fate of the church, and those of Metropolitan Gregory Tsamblak of Kyiv (1415–19) elucidated the feast days. Metropolitan Cyprian of Kyiv (1376–89) translated many well-known sermons by Saint John Chrysostom.
The decline of homiletics between the 13th and 15th centuries in the Ukrainian church was commented on by both Catholic (Piotr Skarga in 1577) and Orthodox (Prince Kostiantyn Vasyl Ostrozky in 1593) figures.
Homiletics revived in Ukraine in the 16th century because of the influence of the Reformation and the schism in the Ukrainian church (culminating in the Church Union of Berestia in 1596). In the religious polemics that arose between the Orthodox and the new Uniate Catholic churches, the sermons of the Orthodox hierarchs Zakhariia Kopystensky and Meletii Smotrytsky and the Uniates Ipatii Potii and Yosafat Kuntsevych played a central role in the development of this art.
Vade mecums in homiletics were the numerous didactic gospels of the 16th and 17th centuries that were used not only by clerics but also by precentors and by lecturers and students at Orthodox brotherhood schools. Sermons were recited by heart by professional preachers called kaznodii; and among the most talented of these was the monk and teacher Stepan Zyzanii. Homiletics was taught in the rhetoric classes of brotherhood schools and at Catholic colleges, and bishops put much effort into acquiring the best preachers for their cathedrals. Hegumens, who were obliged to preach sermons to their monks, were known for being proficient preachers; Yov Zalizo was particularly famous for his homilies.
In the 17th century, sermons were delivered in bookish Belarusian-Ukrainian (see Belarusian-Ukrainian linguistic contacts) combined with vernacular elements, in Church Slavonic, or in Polish. Both the Orthodox and Uniate churches placed much emphasis on the clarity of sermons. Comprehensibility was recommended by the Vilnius congregation in 1636 and by Ivan Vyshensky in his teachings, and it was popularized in the trebnyky (books of rituals; see Trebnyk) of Metropolitan Petro Mohyla and Bishop Hedeon Balaban. Sermons were usually preached after the reading of the Gospel in Uniate churches, while Orthodox priests as a rule delivered their sermons at the end of the Divine Liturgy. By the turn of the 17th century, two tendencies in homiletics were discernible: (1) the Old Ruthenian or Conservative, which adhered to traditional Greek teachings; and (2) the new or Western, which touched on contemporary questions that were relevant to the audience. A combination of the two was recommended in the Didactic Gospel of 1616, which advised not to discuss the unfathomable mysteries of the faith but ‘to teach the common and uneducated people God's will and commandments.’ Both tendencies were apparent in collections of sermons such as Lazar Baranovych's Truby sloves propovidnykh ... (The Trumpets of Preaching Words, 1674) and Antin Radyvylovsky's Vinets Khrystov ... (A Garland for Christ's Wreath, 1688). With the development of literary baroque, homiletics revived. The best example of this trend is probably Ioanikii Galiatovsky's work on homiletics, published as part of his Kliuch razumieniia (The Key of Understanding, 1659, 1663, 1665).
When in the late 17th century the Ukrainian Orthodox church came under the control of Moscow, the hitherto common homiletical practices of the Orthodox and Uniate churches began to diverge. Kyiv's best Orthodox preachers (including Metropolitan Stefan Yavorsky and Archbishop Teofan Prokopovych) were brought to Moscow and Saint Petersburg to modernize homiletics in Russia.
As a result of systematic Russification, homiletics in the Ukrainian language progressively declined in the 19th century. Nationally conscious preachers strove occasionally to save Ukrainian homiletics, but their efforts (eg, the publications of sermons in Ukrainian by Rev Vasyl Hrechulevych and Rev I. Babchenko) were largely unsuccessful. In the 20th century, Archbishop Parfenii Levytsky was punished for similar efforts, as was Bishop A. Hudko for preaching in Ukrainian in Volhynia in 1904–9.
In the Ukrainian Catholic church, the 18th century saw the continuation of developments of the previous century, and the Ukrainian bookish, and later the vernacular, language replaced Church Slavonic and Polish in homiletics. The first collections of sermons were published by the Basilian monastic order and used to teach oratory in their schools: Narodovishchaniie ... (Popular Preaching, 1756) and Simia slova Bozhiia prostym iazykom (The Seed of God's Word in Simple Language, 1772). Of the enlightened Basilian preachers, I. Kostetsky, Hegumen Kornylo Srochynsky, and Yu. Dobrylovsky were well known. After the partition of the Ukrainian lands in the Polish Commonwealth between Russia and Austria (1772), the Russian authorities persecuted, and by 1830 abolished, the Ukrainian Catholic church in the territory under their control. That church continued its legal existence only in Austrian-ruled Western Ukraine. There, the clergy was educated in German and Polish schools and at first preached only in Polish, especially in the larger towns.
At the turn of the 19th century, under the influence of the nascent Ukrainian national movement, the clergy in Western Ukraine began using the vernacular in their sermons and publications—eg, Nauky parokhyial’nyia z slavenoruskoho iazyka na prostyi iazyk ruskyi perelozhennyia (Teachings for Parishes Translated from the Slavonic-Ruthenian into the Common Ruthenian Tongue, 1794). Sermons were published in the vernacular by Mykhailo Luchkai (2 vols, 1831), T. Vytvytsky (2 vols, 1847), and Antin Dobriansky (1850) and in supplements to such newspapers as Zoria halytska (1853–4). The theology department at Lviv University introduced Ukrainian lectures on homiletics in 1850. The level of preaching improved significantly when Yuliian Pelesh's Pastyrs’ke bohoslovia (Pastoral Theology, 2 vols, 1876–7) was introduced as the study text. A popular lecturer on homiletics at the university and author of several collections of sermons was Ivan Bartoshevsky. In the 1930s, lectures on homiletics were given at the Greek Catholic Theological Academy in Lviv and other theological seminaries. Sermons were published in the religious journals Nyva, Bozhe slovo, Dobryi pastyr, Sivach, and Dushpastyr. Among the more eminent preachers were Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky and bishops Hryhorii Khomyshyn and Soter Ortynsky.
The Ukrainian Orthodox church was restored under the Ukrainian National Republic in 1917 and survived in Soviet Ukraine until the early 1930s. During this time homiletics was fostered by the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church (UAOC); because of the lack of printing presses, sermons were produced in typescript or in hand-copied form using duplicating machines. The UAOC created groups of ‘good messengers’ (blahovisnyky) among the clergy and laity and introduced special homiletical services. Metropolitans Vasyl Lypkivsky and Mykola Boretsky were eminent UAOC preachers. From the 1930s sermons in Soviet Ukraine were delivered mostly in Russian (except in the Western Ukrainian regions annexed in 1944). Until 1944 the Orthodox theological seminaries in Western Ukraine taught homiletics; sermons were published in periodicals and separately in books such as Archbishop Oleksii Hromadsky's Slova (Words).
Homiletics has always played a very important role in the Evangelical churches. The preachers among the Baptists in Russian-ruled Ukraine have only used Russian, however, and Ukrainian came to dominate in sermons in Western Ukraine only in the 20th century. Despite severe restrictions by the Soviet state, Baptist homiletics survived in Ukraine. In the United States and Canada, the Ukrainian Evangelical Christians and Baptists have published sermons and have had experienced preachers, such as pastors Volodymyr Borovsky and Oleksa Harbuziuk.
Homiletics has developed normally outside the Soviet bloc within all the Ukrainian churches, and they have published or republished a considerable number of collections of sermons—eg, Rev K. Lototsky's (1954), Archbishop Volodymyr Malets's (1963), Metropolitan Vasyl Lypkivsky's (1969), Rev T. Minenko's (1980), Cardinal Yosyf Slipy's (1981), Rev Ivan Figol's (1981), and Cardinal Myroslav Liubachivsky's (1984)—and radio sermons—eg, Rev S. Mudry's (1970), I. Barchuk's (1971), and Rev M. Dyrda's (1974)—and studies and textbooks on homelitics—eg, Rev F. Kulchynsky's (1971).
Vozniak, M. Istoriia ukraïns’koï literatury, 3 vols (Lviv 1920–4)
Peretts, V. ‘K voprosu ob uchitel’nykh evangeliiakh XVI–XVII v.,’ Sbornik Otdeleniia russkogo iazyka i slovesnosti AN SSSR (Leningrad 1926)
Korowicki, I. ‘Stan kaznodziejstwa prawosławnego na przełomie ww. XVI–XVII w państwie Litewsko-Polskiem,’ Elpis, 1–2 (Warsaw 1935)
Bida, K. Ioanikii Galiatovs’kyi i ioho ‘Kliuch" razuminiia’ (Rome 1975)
Ilarion [Ohiienko, Ivan]. Ukraïns’ka Tserkva: Narysy z istoriï Ukraïns’koï Pravoslavnoï Tserkvy, 2nd rev edn (Winnipeg 1982)
Podskalsky, G. Christentum und theologische Literatur in der Kiewer Rus’ (988–1237) (Munich 1982)
Franklin, S. (trans and intro). Sermons and Rhetoric of Kievan Rus’ (Cambridge, Mass 1991)
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1989). The bibliography has been updated.]
Encyclopedia of Ukraine