Schwartz, Daniel L. 2013. Paideia and Cult: Christian Initiation in Theodore of Mopsuestia. Hellenic Studies Series 57. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_SchwartzD.Paideia_and_Cult.2013.
2. Approaching Catechesis
The Disciplina Arcani
Even the golden-mouthed preacher preferred this sort of inelegance to the premature disclosure of the church’s mysteries. Cyril of Jerusalem urged caution with respect to matters of Christian theology. He warned the catechumens that it was unsafe to discuss the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with unbelievers because such ideas ran the risk of causing them harm: “The sun blinds people suffering from poor sight, and those with weak eyes are distressed and blinded by its light; not that the sun of its nature is blinding, but because the human eye cannot look upon it. Similarly, unbelievers, whose sickness is of the heart, cannot look upon the splendor of the Godhead.”  He even insisted that the baptismal candidates refrain from mentioning any of his instructions to the other catechumens.  Theodore preached at length about the power of the sacraments of baptism and the eucharist. He explained how these sacraments joined a person to God and the Christian community. If a person had not been properly catechized, he or she would fail to understand the deeper meaning of the sacred meal and miss its significance to his or her detriment.  Thus converts received warnings regarding the mortal danger associated with discussing secret matters with a person not properly prepared by catechesis.
How Secret were the Mysteries?
Julian suggests that he keeps the ancient cultic traditions of the Jews better than do the Christians. How he does this is not entirely clear. Perhaps he refers to his attempts to rebuild the temple of the Jews in Jerusalem. He may also be suggesting that both he and the Jews follow their ancestral cult, whereas the Christians worship in a way that is unprecedented. He clarifies this point later, in the context of discussing Jewish sacrifices in the temple in Jerusalem: “You have invented a whole new way of sacrificing that does not need Jerusalem.”  Julian’s critique focuses on the charge of Christian innovation. However, in doing so, he mentions that Christians have a sacrifice of their own, one that does not need the temple of Jerusalem.
The idea that anything other than God derives from him and is, as a matter of necessity, lesser than God, coincides nicely with Constantius’ theological commitments.  Furthermore, commentators agree that this passage very likely refers directly to the contemporary controversy over the Christian understanding of the relationship between God and Christ.  Themistius clearly had some understanding of the contentious theological issues that focused on the supposedly secret doctrines of the creed. This awareness is further evidenced by comments made in speeches to Jovian  in 365 and to Valens  in around 375. In each case, Themistius urged the emperor to adopt a policy of religious toleration in dealing with the various Christian factions within the empire.  Themistius clearly had substantial, even if not comprehensive, understanding of important points of Christian difference.
Inspiring Awe in Late Antique Religion
He proceeds to describe an emotional encounter with the divine in rather vague terms, just enough to pique the interest of his readers, but not enough to give a clear sense of what the rites entailed. Here we see secrecy used to entice the audience of the novel by offering the promise of a profound experience.
This text depicts the ritual enactment of a theophany in which the devotees of the goddess minister to her needs. The description of the rite then rises to a crescendo with the entrance of the members of the cult:
He proceeds to describe these items: an ornate lamp in the shape of a boat, an altar, a golden palm branch, a deformed left hand, a golden fan, and an amphora. The significance of these objects remains unclear in most cases, but the scene obviously amounts to one of absolute sensory overload. The jostling surge of the crowd, the smell of perfume, the deafening rattle of the sistrums, all contribute to an intense atmosphere. Later, when Lucius refuses to disclose the details of his initiation into the cult, he encourages the reader to imagine even more elaborate rites.
Theodore teaches here that the ritual of the eucharist virtually places the person partaking of it in heaven. The rites inspire awe, and Theodore urges his audience to imagine themselves in heaven with Christ through the act of partaking.
Rhetorical Strategies of Catechesis