Domostroi 1-11

Chapers 1-11 of the Domostroi focus on themes of social hierarchy as well as the presence of a loving, merciful God. Chapter 1 instructs men to teach Christian values to their children, wives, and servants, in order to spread God’s will. As a testament to God being loving and forgiving, servants are never to be reprimanded with physical harm but with warmth and kindness. Chapter 2 through chapter 5 elaborate on the practices and values held within the orthodox faith. Good Christians must worship the holy trinity and Christ’s cross as well as believe in Christ’s Blood and Body as being present in the communion. The Domostroi instructs, in great detail, that communion must be received carefully and with a pure heart. Most importantly, it is a Christian’s duty to do the work of God and to care for the unfortunate, needy, or troubled individual. In reference to the importance of social hierarchy, chapter 5 is entirely devoted to treating bishops, priests, and monks with reverence and obedience, as God commanded.  In chapter 7, the tsar is honored as the “earthly king” while God is the “heavenly king”. There is a change from the merciful God we have previously seen in this chapter: “The Lord will destroy all those speaking falsely, slanderously, or deceitfully to the tsar, a prince, or any boyar.” The tsar and the princes are not deliverers of God’s mercy but agents of God’s punishment. The author is literally instilling the “fear of God” into the readers’ hearts so they will remember to always obey and honor the tsar. Chapter 8 through chapter 11 focus on respectful, appropriate behavior within the home, instructing readers to place icons in every room of their home, even explaining how to keep the icons clean. There are also instructions for how to invite a priest to your home and how to host a dinner party that honors God. One is to always eat gratefully and devoutly so as to keep angels close and warn away the devil.

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