After completing his BA (First Class Honours) in German Studies and Classics (minor in Sanskrit) at McGill University (Montréal) in 2003 (Classics thesis: “Emperor Irene: A Look at Politics and Political Language in Byzantium, 780–802” ; German thesis: “‘Gemalt hätt ich dich: Ikonen- und Gedichtenproblematik im ersten Buch des Rilke’schen Stundenbuches” ), Christopher Sprecher spent several years in monastic life before completing a Master of Divinity (2011) and Master of Theology coursework at St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary (Yonkers, NY). He spent three years in active parish ministry and military chaplaincy before working in several start-up and financial tech firms in New York City before moving to Germany in 2017. He is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Regensburg under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Jörg Oberste and is concurrently completing an MA in Medieval Studies.
Ancient: Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Biblical Hebrew, Church Slavonic, Old English
Modern: English (native); German and French (full proficiency [Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom awarded in 2012]); Spanish, Italian, Modern Greek, Finnish, Central Alaskan Yup’ik (reading and basic speaking); Arabic (beginner)
- History of Eastern Orthodox liturgy and hymnography
- Appropriation and continuation of Classical culture throughout the Late Antique period and beyond;
- Interaction of civic law and values with canon law and religious mores;
- Influence and development of monastic networks in both urban and rural contexts
- Constantinople as east-west hub between medieval Western Europe and the Caucasus/Arab/Persian worlds
“A Banquet of Victory”: The Institution and Spread of Constantinopolitan Feasts of Episcopal Relic Translation and the Rehabilitation of Urban Honour in the 9th–12th Centuries
Notions of honour and prestige, primacy and preëminence, have entered the modern and post-modern worlds via the cultural womb of pre-modernity, and in the European context specifically from the Late Antique world shaped by Greece, Rome, and Byzantium. Virtue, honour, and fame were all accolades that could be gained (or lost) by individuals, yet the same gains and losses in honour could be experienced on the macro-level of the city, with immense consequences in the long and short run for trade, diplomacy, and inter-urban influence. My project will examine the institution of feasts late in the ninth century in Constantinople commemorating the translation of episcopal relics to Constantinople—notably, those of Nikēphoros I and John Chrysostom—and their later spread beyond the imperial capital as a means to restoring the (by the Orthodox party perceived) lost urban honour following the second phase of Iconoclasm and the restoration of icons in 843. Loss of honour on an urban level in this tumultuous time could lead to a decline in civic fortune or reference; increase or maintenance could help preserve prominence and hegemony. With these events and this lens of liturgical celebration in mind, I shall therefore explore through close readings of the festal texts how both the rite of relic translation itself and related texts (the liturgical texts pertaining to these feasts, as well as the Life of Nikēphoros) gesture towards a process of the restoration of honour, not merely to the saints here fêted, but to the city fêting them. Thereafter, I shall examine the spread of these texts and the celebration of these feasts beyond the walls of Constantinople and into a metropolitan network of other cities and local churches via an investigation of liturgical manuscripts and typika (liturgical texts containing the orders of services and saints to be commemorated in specific locations).
- Jörg Oberste, The Birth of A Metropolis: Civic Space and Social Practice in Medieval Paris. C. Sprecher, trans. (in progress, projected for Spring 2019).
- Georges Florovsky, “Revelation, Philosophy and Theology” and “Western Influences in Russian Theology,” C. Sprecher (trans.), forthcoming in a volume of collected works published by T&T Clark (2018).
- Christos Yannaras, “Church and Sexuality,” C. Sprecher (trans.). The Wheel 13–14 (2018): 72–82.
- Pantelis Kalaitzidis, “‘To Coin New Names’: The Imperative of Reform and the Danger of Marginalization,” C. Sprecher (trans.). The Wheel 8 (2017): 39–43.
- Christopher Sprecher, “Tanqilria Tanqilrianun / Holy Things for the Holy: Society and Sanctity among the Yup’ik People.” The Wheel 7 (2016): 17–22.
- Address of His Beatitude, Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus, to the Holy and Great Council, 2016. C. Sprecher (trans.). The Wheel 6 (2016): 5–9.
- Jean-Claude Larchet, Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses. C. Sprecher (trans.). Montréal: Alexander Press, 2012.