Homiletics has been considered a literary genre that cannot be used as a historical source due to its lack of refe¬rence to contemporary reality. Recently, scholarly research shown that although the homilists of the middle Byzantine period avoid referring directly to the cult of icons -the dominant issue of the day- they do so indirectly, through symbolic language manifested in their choice of subject, use of vocabulary and imagery as well as m the highly emotional tone they evoke, with particular emphasis on the body and the sences
The sermons of the 8th and 9th centuries should be considered as a single category with its own characteristics and idioms.
Sermons combine two distinct conceptions of time, the first reflecting the eternal presence of God. where past, present and future exist alongside God’s time, and the second conveying the linear conception of time charac¬teristic of human understanding. In the context of the Divine Liturgy homilies represent the point where these two conceptions of time meet and enrich one another as a point of communion between the creation and the Creator
From the homiletic corpus of the middle Byzantine period this article uses examples of Homilies of the Patriarch Germanos I, Andrew of Crete and John of Damascus. In these homilies references to the eternal are combined with references to the contemporary theological debate of Iconoclasm. Special attention is given to the person of the Mother of God, as a symbol of the Incarnation In numerous examples one notes the unique position ascribed to the Virgin as the protectress of both the Christians and the imperial city of Byzantium, but also as the protectress of the cult of icons, which from the 9th century onwards would become an inextricable element of Orthodoxy. In the same way that a novel or an essay, regardless of its subject, bears the imprint of the time in which it was written, the homilies reveal the concern of the Byzantines with the timeless reality of God, as well as with contemporary theological issues, such as Iconoclasm.