Reading the Body: Hesychasm in the Life of Saint Stephen, Bishop of Perm

N. Mayhew


This article is a short literary analysis of a late medieval Russian hagiography, the “Life of Saint Stephen, Bishop of Perm”. Scholars such as J. Børtnes and F.C.M. Kitch have approached the Life in the context of the so-called “second South Slav influence”, suggesting that its style is the result of cultural exchange with Serbia and not, as originally argued by D. S. Likhachev, a means of conveying a Hesychast theology. This article seeks to emancipate the Life from a narrative of unilateral cultural exchange, challenging the idea that historical context trumps literary analysis. By focussing on the depiction of Stephen’s body, I argue that the Life contains a Palamite Hesychast message, articulated in its structural and rhetorical features.


The body, Epiphanius the Wise, hagiography, Hesychasm, Gregory Palamas, literary analysis, second South Slav influence, theology.

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