Abstracts of Papers delivered at the 11th Conference of the Australian Association for Byzantine Studies at Macquarie University, Sydney on 16-18 July 1999
Alternative Spaces: Buildings for Orthodox and Unorthodox Communities in Italy
Joan Barclay Lloyd
In Italy from the mid-fourth to the sixth century, orthodox and unorthodox communities had separate building complexes for baptism, worship, clergy residence and administration. Today this can be seen most obviously in the two baptisteries in Ravenna built for the Orthodox and the Arians, as well as in the traces of the damnatio memoriae in the mosaic decoration of Saint Apollinare Nuovo.
Documentary evidence points to an Arian centre outside the walls of Milan in the fourth century. In Rome from time to time the buildings at Saint Agnese along the Via Nomentana formed an alternative centre to the papal quarter at the Lateran. This paper will investigate the phenomenon of these orthodox and unorthodox enclaves in terms of their art and architecture.
The Ethics of Identity
Every church is orthodox to itself: to others erroneous and heretical. For whatsoever any church believes, it believes to be true; and the contrary unto those things, it pronounces to be error.
Locke, First Letter on Toleration
Doctrine is received by the individual will and emotion. When it is embraced sincerely as true belief it can withstand coercion by the state, hence martyrdom. Yet can doctrine function in the individual identity through change?
The following questions will be posed:
What does the function of doctrine inform us of identity?
Were the elites of the late empire – secular and ecclesiastical – ethical rationalists?
Has scholarship conflated the sociology of identity and the ethics of identity?
Zosimus 2.34: Deconstructing the Myth of Constantine’s Military Strategy
According to Zosimus, Constantine removed the greater part of the soldiers from the frontiers and placed them in cities not needing protection, an action whose moral and strategic consequences he reprobates. The rhetoric is palpable, but the assertion remains a fixed point in scholarship on the development of late-Roman military strategy. It is a thin reed to bear this burden. His assertion is hard to reject, for our lack of detailed knowledge of military history makes it impossible to test it from other evidence of the period.
However, the difficulty in identifying in later armies military units supposedly transferred from the frontiers under Constantine should sound warning bells. They ring louder when one begins to deconstruct Zosimus’ material. His assertion may rest on his or his source’s misunderstanding, wilful or unconscious, of a removal of frontier units leading up to, and following, the war between Constantine and Licinius in 324. The clue lies in passages of Johannes Lydus not hitherto used in this context. They not only echo the structure and hostility of Zosimus, but they also provide a historical scenario for the temporary removal of frontier units from the lower Danube, their placement in cities in Asia Minor and the over-running of the lower Danubian frontier – a scenario easily misrepresented into a new permanent strategy, reprehensible both morally and strategically.
If these events lie behind Zosimus’ ‘facts’, then those ‘facts’ and what follows from them should be discarded. Constantine reconstructed the Danubian front in the next decade, partly from the civil war armies, to strengthen rather than weaken its frontier defences. There is no sign that the developmehnt of field armies in the first half of the fourth century was at the expense of frontier defences. Constantine’s precise role in the large process remains to be revealed.
Claudian and the Fall of Eutropius
An examination of the preface to Claudian’s in Eutropium liber alter shows that the poet was well acquainted with the details of Eutropius’ fall from imperial favour; yet Claudian is silent on who brought about the minister’s political demise and how it happened.
It is necessary to re-examine the ancient sources for Eutropius’ fall (Zosimus, Eunapius, Socrates, Sozomen, Philostorgius and John Chrysostom) to discover what Claudian is concealing before one can make a judgement as to why he does so.
Heresies and Heresiologies
If we mean to address the subject of conformity in Byzantium we come very quickly up against the notion of heresy. For the Byzantines, orthodoxy meant not only holding mainstream opinions, as we might use the term today, but a very specific form of religious belief, identified with an elaborate ecclesiastical and social system. But the concept of orthodoxy was defined in terms of complex written dogma, and despite councils and treatises, agreement as to what this should be proved so elusive that it required a parallel apparatus defining what it was not. Just as apophatic theology proved a ready way of describing God, so heresiology served to define orthodoxy.
This paper does not seek to discover what ‘real’ heresies existed in the Byzantine world. Rather, it explores the development of the intellectual technology known as heresiology, and the uses which it served. Why were Byzantine writers so eager to continue repeating and elaborating the classifications of heresy which they had inherited from earlier Christian writers such as Epiphanius (not to mention writers of an even earlier period)? Why was it worth their while to continue enumerating and classifying the various types of wrong belief, or enshrining their classifications and their condemnations in formal statements read out in churches or used in public processes? Why were contemporary realities cloaked in old labels and old names? What changes were there, if any in attitudes to heresiology or its uses during the Byzantine period? And finally, what implications can be drawn from our understanding of Byzantine society from this zeal for the classification and condemnation of ‘wrong’ belief?
Heresy itself (if one may put it that way) has been much studied by Byzantinists. But heresiology – the technique of writing about heresy – is still a plot looking for its author.
Harald, A Viking Prince in Byzantium
At the last Byzantine Conference in Canberra, I spoke of the Vikings or Rus who came as raiders as well as traders to Constantinople.
This year I would like to discuss a third aspect of the Vikings in Constantinople, when they were members of the elite bodyguard of the Byzantine Emperors, the Varangians.
The best known of the Varangians was Harald, half-brother of King Olaf of Norway. When his brother was murdered Harald fled from Norway to Kiev and took service with Prince Jaroslav. After gaining experience in the prince’s army he left Russia and went south to Constantinople.
There he joined the Varangian Guard and served the Emperors Michael IV, Michael V, Constantine and the Empress Zoë in a number of campaigns while he rose in rank and amassed a vast fortune.
After a dramatic departure from Constantinople he returned to Kiev and later to Norway, where he reigned as king for 20 years. In 1066 he died at the battle of Stamford Bridge while attempting to gain the Crown of England.
There is little doubt about the authenticity of these details of Harald’s life. Surprisingly, he became a romantic figure together with such heroes as Alexander the Great and Roland, and his life and deeds became the source for many poems, sagas and songs. These poems were collected, not by French or German troubadours, but by the court poets of Nordic kings, the most prominent being Snorri Sturluson who wrote about Harald in his epic saga, the Heimskringala (Orb of the World).
In this paper I will discuss some of the legends written by Snorri and other poets which give us a colourful picture of Harald’s exploits as a Varangian Commander.
Concerning How Those Who Convert from Heresy are to be Received: Some Reflections on the Church and Heretics During the First Millennium in Agreement with the Sacri Canones
This paper gives a short survey on the topic of orthodoxy and unorthodoxies in ancient Canon law. In particular we will explore the canonical (and juridical) evolution of this question in the Church through its ancient legislation, by investigating the ancient Canons promulgated by the Ecumenical Councils of the First Millennium. The Canons illustrate how very well heretics were received into the full communion with the Orthodox Church (i.e., the Megale Ekklesia).
Given the nature of this topic, the paper will give only a short introduction and brief commentary of the Canons of the Ecumenical Councils (the ancient Synods, with the exception of the Canon 47 and 68 of the Collection of the 85 Canons of the Apostles, will not be addressed).
Meeting Outside the Church: Camps, Cemeteries and Christians in Late Antique Egypt
Although the church was the focal point of Christian worship, it was not the only place where Christians met, for prayer or general assemblies. This paper examines the Christian practice of meeting in cemeteries, focussing on the ‘orthodox’ Alexandrian Christian community in those periods when Athanasius was in exile. Christians are also attested as meeting in ‘camps’ (parembolai) in both Alexandria and Panopolis.
This paper will examine the functions these extra-church assembly points played in the daily life of the Christian community, and speculate on what link this may have had with the early monastic practice of dwelling in tombs and cemeteries.
The Passio Sancti Typasii Veterani as a Catholic Construction of the Past
In the North African schism between Donatists and Catholics, both groups sought the support of the martyrs of the past to assert their pedigree, and thus their orthodoxy. From the late fourth century, however, the idea of the martyr was blurring with that of the monk within the developing discourse of what would become the Catholic and Orthodox churches throughout the Mediterranean world. Within North Africa, the memory of the martyrs retained its immediacy, especially for Donatists who remained under imperial persecution.
This paper will discuss one piece of North African hagiography, the Passio Saint Typasii Veterani, which was probably written by a contemporary of Augustine. It will argue that the account of Typasius’ martyrdom reflects a desire to project a past for late fourth-century asceticism back into the seminal period of the Great Persecution. Typasius is portrayed as both a monk and a martyr, giving legitimacy to Catholic monasticism in the late fourth- or early fifth-century present.
The Orthodoxy of the Western Medieval Love Lyric and its Byzantine Variant: The Case of the Erotopaignia
The Erotopaignia are an anonymous collection of love songs written in vernacular Greek. The sole witness to these songs is a manuscript (British Library Addit. 8241) dated to the 15th century; however, their language demonstrates that these songs were written much earlier. In a broad sense the songs below to the Western genre known as ‘l’amour courtois’. In t his paper I shall attempt to examine the following:
a. The nature of their Western originals;
b. Types of ‘transformations’ they underwent in order to meet the demands of Greek audiences and how successful these changes were; and
c. The degree to which the society they portray reflects the period in which they were written.
Autobiography in Late Antiquity: The Revelations of Pseudo-Prosper’s Confessio
Reviewing his entire literary corpus towards the end of his life, St Augustine turned to his thirteen books of Confessiones ‘praising God’ and ‘arousing men’s minds and feelings towards Him’, remarked that they still moved him as they did when he first wrote them, and added ‘What different people discern from them, they will have seen for themselves’ (Retractationes 1.6.1 and 2). Augustine used confessio in a complex sense. The unity of the work, asserted by Augustine himself, can no longer be doubted, and he wished and understood that his masterpiece would be appreciated on many levels – a claim that he made for that most perfect of texts, Holy Scripture, and that he demonstrated in the exegesis on Genesis in the last three books of the Confessiones.
The Confessiones is thus a work of autobiographical exegesis throughout, with the added polemical advantage of affirming its author’s orthodoxy through his adherence to a Pauline model of conversion. Peter Brown stated that Augustine ‘already found himself with an audience used to intimate biography, and so, ripe for autobiography’ (Augustine of Hippo, p.159).
Augustine’s example also informed, exhorted and enabled others to imitate him: turning their gaze inward and their conclusions outward. Georg Misch recognised four texts which were composed in the century or so following the publication of the Confessiones and which trace a spiritual awakening for the purpose of making a retributio in acknowledgment of the action of God’s Grace throughout the authors’ lives; that is, an unambiguously Augustinian interpretation (for literary purposes) of confessio.
This paper discusses what Misch termed one of ‘the colourless reproductions of Augustine’s work’ (History of Autobiography in Antiquity, p.670), the Confessio quae dicitur Sancti Prosperi Aquitani as it appears in Migne’s Patrologia Latina, volume 51, columns 607C to 610B. This curious document comprising less than 500 words captures the essence of Augustine’s model of the process of spiritual progression leading to awareness of self and knowledge of God (which are activated and proceed simultaneously) and appears to contain no autobiographical detail whatsoever … or does it?
The author (Pseudo-Prosper, for the purposes of discussion) renders a self-presentation which relies exclusively upon allusions to God’s great acts of redemption and is so conventional in his own autobiographical exegesis that one is tempted to infer that here we are witnessing the development of a literary genre with its own conventions and a conceptual vocabulary drawn from the Pauline epistles.
Indeed, if it is true that the Christian theologian, like the pagan philosopher, thinks in a tradition and that in antiquity the rules of discourse were rigidly codified, then this text may be invaluable for an understanding of how Augustine’s prototype was received and interpreted in its own day. Is it necessary or even useful to speak of genre? Do all five of these texts depend for their intelligibility upon the Augustinian exemplum and / or the identification of commonplaces of salvation and other (more subtle) generic traits? How much room did Augustine leave for individual expression or did theological imperatives such as denial of self necessarily limit the potential for the development of this genre of autobiographical exegesis? Can these questions be answered and can some reputations (including my own) be saved?
Doomsday (Almost) in the Ninth Century
The very close approach of Halley’s Comet to Earth in March-April AD 837, and the exceedingly brilliant supernova seen in the constellation of Taurus for 12 months from July of AD 1054, were the two outstanding celestial events of their age. Both events are entirely absent from historical literature west of the Euphrates, but were carefully noted by East Asian observers. The only ready explanation for the omission of both events in the West is that they significantly exceeded the limits of the cosmology of the day.
The omission of these two events, that reasonably should be described by most sources that deal with the years 837 and 1054, makes it worthwhile to investigate a cluster of solitary descriptions of unusual celestial events. These are described from ninth century France and Byzantium.
In summary these are:
- Mars was not seen in the sky between July 797 and July 798;
- a dark object, mistaken for the planet Mercury, was seen between the Earth and the Sun in 807;
- a highly unusual double comet (or a pair of very large and close asteroids) was seen in 812;
- a huge asteroid, or a series of asteroids, narrowly missed colliding with Planet Earth in 860. Coming between the Earth and the Moon, it appears to have been torn apart by Earth’s gravitational forces, and was flung into a parabolic path between the Sun and Earth, narrowly missing our planet.
The issue of reliability of literary sources will be addressed. I feel that their reliability is high as concerns the details of events, and that the only major problem is one of absolute chronology.
Women and the Humorous
Humour and joking deserve a place among the objects of the new socio-cultural approach to history, following the prominence of gender as a social category worthy of study: this paper aims to unite the two through an analysis of the ways in which Middle Byzantine texts portray women in the context of humourous and abusive discourse.
Byzantium was a society in which abusive humour and the joke per se were viewed with enthusiasm in most social settings, and women are to some degree not only participants in such humour, but – as might be expected – the objects of it, by virtue of the public prominence of specific women and of the misogynistic approach to humour typical of a society which depended so much upon traditions of classical literature.
Women are shown as themselves indulging in jokes or abusive language (or are specifically noted as not doing so), and as appreciating the buffoonery, abuse and personal humiliation which was so much a feature of Byzantine humour.
On the other hand, specific women in the public sphere become the objects of vitriolic satirical attack and even public infamy, while misogynistic humour targets women and their activities generically, particularly in the domestic context.
This paper aims to explore the types of humour in the Middle and Late Byzantine periods in which women participated as audience, instigators, or objects-of-attacks, and investigates the ways in which women of different classes were portrayed in humourous and satirical works.
The Labours of Germanus of Auxerre
The Life of Germanus of Auxerre was one of the most influential hagiographies of the late antique West, and is a favoured text in modern scholarship. Its subject visited Britain and possibly Armorica after the Roman withdrawal from those regions, and met with an emperor, an empress, a king, and high officials. The text gains modern respect not only from Germanus’s good connections and travels to poorly-attested places, but also because of the quality of its composition. The author, Constantius, wrote with an expressive and indeed imaginative style, and constructed a narrative structure more amenable to modern tastes than most of his predecessors in this genre. Nonetheless, the Life has been subject to little in the way of literary appreciation.
This paper will approach the Life as a literary composition, a necessary prelude to the exploitation of the text as a historical source. Germanus appears as a powerful but weary hero, who performs not only miracula but also strenuous worldly labours. His figure is crafted using imagery derived not from previous hagiographies, but from earlier and more secular genres.
The West Falls, the East Survives: Reflections on an Orthodoxy
First formulated by Onofrio Panvinius in the 16th century, the contrast between the fall of the West and the survival of the East is strongly echoed by modern historians of Late Antiquity, such as A.H.M. Jones. The validity of the contrast is uncontested, especially if attached to the presence or absence of an imperial regime. The West lost its last emperor in 476 or 480, whereas the Eastern succession was unbroken from Augustus to Constantine XIII in 1453.
Emperors are a narrow basis for argument, especially if one asks whether the presence of the emperor makes an empire. Nevertheless, imperial reigns are facts. If the Roman Empire survived as long as there was a Roman Emperor, then surely Panvinius’ dictum holds true.
In certain contexts, the contrast between the halves has undeniable value. The test of contrasting fates makes short work of incautious claims about the end of the Empire. Such reasons as, for example, government corruption or lead poisoning – presumably affecting the entire Empire – could not have caused its end since half the empire did not fall. The application of this test surely has a large part in Jones’ surprising conclusion (recently strengthened by Peter Heather) that ‘The internal weaknesses of the empire cannot have been a major factor in its decline’. Within an empire that half survived, everything had to be more or less OK. The logic is possibly relentless, but obviously not flawed.
The contrast between East and West runs into danger when it encourages the belief that one pars imperii was lucky, and the other wretched; that survival was a blessing, and proof of greater virtue; that Byzantium was more enviable than the barbarised West.
Many traces of such thinking have recently circulated. If they were simply scholarly and academic, they would be inconsequential. But a choice between falling with the West or surviving with Constantinople, is, ultimately, an affirmation of the chooser’s beliefs. A moral issue is posed and deserves consideration.
Unveiling the Writer: Severus of Antioch, A Combatant for Orthodoxy or Icon of Change?
The early sixth century Byzantine Empire saw the emergence and predominance of the theological arena by Severus of Antioch. This drew many famous ecclesiastics, dogmaticians and secular rulers into the battlefield and prompted long, and in some cases intense, correspondence between the doctrinal opponents. But was this controversy fuelled solely by theological considerations or were there more pressing concerns involved in the declamations and counter – arguments that resulted? Can we recover insights into changes in the methods of these debates and definitions from the extensive surviving corpus of Severus’ works?
I suggest that, rather than confining such works to the theological arena, an alternative investigation will reveal valuable clues to the changing conditions of such disputes and their unforseen consequences.
Some Byzantine Literary Unorthodoxies
The Comnenian twelfth century witnessed a flourishing literary culture. This paper proposes to look briefly at some of the fashions that appeared and which are out of the Byzantine norm. Some have been much discussed, like the fashion for using the vernacular or for writing lengthy novels in the manner of Late Antiquity. Others have not, like the fashion for laymen inserting verse petitions on personal matters into church services despite the objections of highly-placed clergy. An attempt will be made to see if there are any common factors at work.
Theodoros Prodromos, Ptochoprodromos, Manganeios Prodromos: Literary Orthodoxy by Name-Cloning and the Unorthodox Duties of Modern Scholarship
For Byzantine leaders after the Fourth Crusade there was always a problem of imperial legitimacy. They had to keep up an imperial court with restricted means and with ignorance resulting from a broken tradition. They looked back with admiration to the last great reign, the brilliant period of Manuel Komnenos, and treasured all texts which linked them to it: these acquired a status approaching orthodoxy in imperial organisation. Guardian of that orthodoxy was the figure of Theodore Prodromos, a major intellectual and prolific litterateur of Manuel’s reign.
As a result, especially at moments of crisis like the recapture of the imperial city, Theodore’s name became attached to many texts which he had not written: it was a guarantee of the authenticity of the text, which was added in many cases when the actual writer was less authoritative or unknown. Until recently scholarship had pared back the claims of Theodore’s authorship: the last decades have tended to restore some doubtful works to the canon. A wide range of arguments has been used, based both on historical references in the works in question and on their formal characteristics. Theoretical judgements have down-played the issue of authorship, whilst using concepts of self-mockery from one text to another and intertextuality which become problematic if the texts are not by the same hand.
What should be the attitude of those editing such texts? To what extent should they accept or undermine the pressures of orthodoxy in such cases? Above all, what should they print on the title page of their editions? The paper will examine the case of the texts going under the name of Manganeios Prodromos.
Rain Gods and the Agricultural Economy to the Fifth Century A.D.
This paper seeks to put past religions in their pre-industrial environment, as essentially responses, based on the assumption that the gods controlled human and natural events, to pressing material needs. Religion responded to these needs in two ways, by regular, ordinary devotions to obtain the favour of, or propitiate, the gods (critical religion) and by exceptional means designed to placate the gods in times of catastrophe or disaster (crisis religion). These activities were undertaken by the state (state religion).
The state religion’s main material concern and focus of much of its religious activity was feeding the population (agricultural religion). There were two main strategies:
1. encouraging fertility and vegetative renewal, which were the province of fertility goddesses, and
2. seeking by prayer and / or offerings to obtain a sufficient rainfall, which was the forte of the male rain gods, who were also the dominant gods – Enlil, Zeus, Juppiter, Yahweh, and the Christian God.
The Elijah episode shows us Yahweh in the role of rain god, who defeats his Canaanite rival, Baal; in New Testament times, Juppiter is the rival of the Christian rain-god. These competitions ultimately proved who the true gods were, but it is significant that the ability to produce rain – to service the agricultural economy – decided that matter. Christians, too, opted for the crisis strategy. When faced with drought, they appealed to God using the supplicatory ritual of the Old Testament, as, in fact, the Jews themselves did at / by this time. Somewhat surprisingly, the saints were little involved in this activity – there were (almost) no rain saints. However, in the late antique period Christians frequently sought out holy men – monks, hermits, and ascetics – to perform their supplications. This was the case both in the West and in the territories of the new Byzantine Empire.
Constantine and the Churches of Rome
When Constantine marched into the city of Rome in October 312, he did so as a professed Christian. The Christian community with which he came face to face in Rome was large, multi-communal, divided, and rowdy. Almost immediately, he ordered the construction of an immense new basilica for the church on imperial land. As such, he selected land which had not been occupied by any Christian congregation of the so-called ‘titulus’ churches, but instead invited Christians to his new and richly-endowed cathedral. Here the bishop had both a residence and a great public audience hall. In sociological terms, this was a novelty.
While there were many Christians in Rome, they tended to come from the lower social strata, a fact reflected by the physical remains of their worship centres. In offering the bishop, and his Church, a palace and grand new public centre for worship, he was inviting the Church to join the elite of the Empire. In accepting the offer, churches of Rome also implicitly accepted a political alliance with Constantine.
Manichaeism: The Polypus of Byzantine Heresies
Manichaeism was seen by Byzantine Churchmen as the Ur-form of dualist heresies and profession of it was punishable by death.
This paper looks at how the sect came to the Roman East in Late Antiquity and how memory of it coloured Byzantine views of heresies. The lecture will be illustrated with slides of the main textual discoveries from Egypt and North Africa since 1929.
Who Lost Constantinople?
When Mehmet II besieged Constantinople in 1453 the Emperor, Constantine XI, hired the private army of Giovanni Longo Giustinianito defend the city. Guistiniani’s organisation of the defence was so effective that Mehmet’s attacks by both land and sea failed and his fleet could not even stop supply ships reaching the city.
With time against him and the opposition mounting within his camp, Mehmet decided on a final desperate assault. He ordered his army to burn everything not needed in the attack to force them to victory. He was prepared to risk his empire to capture the city.
Mehmet attacked in three places – all the attacks were contained by the defence. Giustiniani withdrew the crew of his galley from his defence of the land walls leaving the Emperor in command. Mehmet took advantage of an unexpected opportunity to make a last desperate attack at this point, which succeeded. The Emperor was killed but Giustiniani escaped.
The sources accuse Giustinianiof cowardice and claim that the city was lost because he fled, although the evidence contradicts this assumption. This paper examines the events which led to the fall of the city at the moment of victory, who was at fault, and why it was important to absolve the Emperor of blame.
Titian and the Song of Songs
Motifs from the Song of Songs constitute an essential part of Titian’s imagery. This Biblical ode to the love of a bride and her bridegroom has been considered as an allegory of love between God and His people. A long tradition of literary interpretation and artistic representation of the Song of Songs had established a number of symbols and images the artist could use.
The theme of secular love and a variety of motifs taken from nature in the canticle provided Titian with the key to multi-levelled symbolism, conveying both holy and profane meaning. The influence of the Song of Songs on Titian’s art is traced in religious compositions of the artist connected with the Virgin and Mary Magdalen.
Orthodox and Unorthodox Use: The Supernatural, John Chrysostom and his Audience
Wendy Mayer and Silke Trzcionka
The role of the supernatural in the private lives of the inhabitants of a late fourth-century city has been little examined from a holistic and focused perspective. With the exception of Jean-Benôt Clerc, scholars interested in magic or the supernatural have either tended to examine particular practices or practitioners – such as the sorcerer, the holy man, curse tablets, the evil eye, coins, spells or apotropaic devices – or they have cast their net broadly and have examined evidence across a wide geographic area and/or a number of centuries. Such studies, while important, provide either a generalised or a less than integrated view.
If we turn rather to a specific society and body of evidence, in this case the city of Antioch in the time of John Chrysostom, and begin to assemble the full range of evidence which his sermons and writings supply, a more subtle and complex picture can be obtained. By examining the data in particular from the point of view of the effect of the introduction of Christianity on belief and practice and the tactics employed by the church in response, the tension between sanctioned and unsanctioned use in a carefully defined urban context comes sharply to the fore.
Orthodoxy at Thessaloniki
John Melville Jones
In three accounts of sieges of Thessaloniki by the Arabs, by the Normans and the Turks by Kaminates, Eustathios and Symeon, stress is laid upon the strong adherence of the city’s inhabitants to the orthodox faith. There is some truth in this, so it is more than a literary topos. On the other hand, there were times when Thessaloniki was the centre of less orthodox developments.
The Book of Revelation: The Three Cosmic Villains
Michael George Michael
Popular imagination and various literatures have often confused the three cosmic villains which the Seer of Patmos is careful to separate. These dreadful adversarial figures that we encounter in the Apocalypse are the great red dragon (Rev. 12:3), the first beast which rises out of the sea (Rev. 13:1) and the second beast which rose out of the earth (Rev. 13:11). The dragon has to be distinguished from the two beasts, as the beasts need to be distinguished from each other. The dragon is Satan. The first beast (whose number is 666) is the Antichrist. The second beast is the false prophet.
In the ‘Man of Lawlessness’ pericope (2 Thess. 2-12), the eschatological adversary is an individual into whom Paul confluences the typical characteristics of the Belial figure; in Revelation these characteristics are distributed among the Seer’s three cosmic villains (Rev. 12:17, 13:1, 11, 20:2). Although the name Antichrist is missing from the book itself, all that is written in chapter 13 concerning the two beasts illustrates absolutely the traits of a personified power opposed to God, which the Seer systematically interprets as the blasphemous parody of the true Christ.
Horizons of Orthodoxy and Unorthodoxy: Western Rejection of Byzantine Art in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
Karl F. Morrison
Western rejection of Byzantine art (once it discovered it) derived from self-affirmation. On the assumption that art expressed character, Western scholars affirmed what they considered Western virtues (articulated in Western arts) by what they considered antithetic vices in the Eastern European character, and its artistic expression. Far from being international languages, the visual arts – especially as used in the veneration of icons – reinforced an anciently-ingrained hellenophobia.
The Western Reaction to the Council of Nicaea II: The Orthodoxy of Icon Veneration
The iconoclast controversy, which broke out in the Byzantine Empire in the early eighth century, met with varied reactions, both within the Byzantine Empire itself (which still included Rome and much of Italy, both in the eyes of the Emperor and the Pope) and beyond. There has been a tendency to polarise the difference between the ‘eastern’ and ‘western’ reactions, but it is the argument of this article that the idea that the West (or at least the Pope) found it difficult to know how to respond to the controversy has been much exaggerated. It is certainly true, however, that the East seems to have been at the forefront of the development of a theology of images. While in the West the defence of images had amounted to little more than their being valued as a way of preach to the illiterate, the East had advanced beyond that position before the outbreak of the controversy, and in the course of the controversy the question of veneration of images was raised to a high level of theological debate.
It will be argued that Pope Hadrian I participated meaningfully in that debate during his pontificate (772-795) and particularly in his contribution to the second Council of Nicaea (787), even if Frankish theologians misunderstood the basis of the Greek position. The explanation for papal reluctance to endorse the council can only be found in he political ramifications of the Byzantine response to the Lombard threat in Italy in the 780s.
A Plethora of Historians? ‘Orthodoxy and Unorthodoxies’, or ‘Anything Goes’ at the Court of Theodosius II?
Not only ‘orthodox’ (‘Nicene’) history (Sozomen) and history tinged with Novatian (Socrates) or Nestorian (Theodoret) sympathies, but Arian history (Philostorgius), and even a pagan history or two (Olympiodorus – and Zosimus, if Brian Croke be right)! At first glance it would seem that it was open slather at the Court of Theodosius II, and that grandfather must have been revolving in his grave. We’d best take a closer look, then, at the political, social, cultural and religious factors that affected the composition and publication of history in the time of Theodosius II. I expect to focus on Socrates of Constantinople, and to find in his work rather more than an admiration for Novatians to bother the narrower thought police.
How the Angel Found His Wings
It is well known that the winged angel was a late development. Although in late antiquity interest in angels amongst Christians, Jews and pagans had been very strong, especially from the second century onwards, it was not until the late fourth century that the classic winged angel first appears, interestingly, in this particular case, a winged St Matthew. In the Old Testament angels could ascend or descend on ladders (Gen 28:12) or in the flames of the sacrificial fire (Judges 13:20); when wings are mentioned in the Bible or related literature they generally connote protection, as in a mother bird sheltering her young beneath her wings.
Thus the affixation of wings to angels was not a natural development of Old Testament ideas. We must look elsewhere for the origin of the winged angel. Birds, or course, were important for divination in the Graeco-Roman world, they were, like angels, messengers of heaven; so too, the Roman Emperor generally became a winged eagle upon death; likewise Zoroastrian fravashis (ancestral spirits of the dead that by this period were worshipped as intercessor type figures) were regarded as winged; indeed in Near Eastern art, from Assyria to Egypt, it is apparent that many winged deities were worshipped or feared; we must also not forget the winged Nike, Eros or Hermes of Graeco-Roman religion.
All these are possible antecedents, but are barren when it comes to explaining why exactly the angel became, all of a sudden, a winged being. To explain the rise of the winged angel it is necessary to look to Plato and Persian ideas, and their collision with each other in the cultural melting pot of the fourth century Mediterranean world. It then becomes apparent that angels gained their wings due to their mastery of time, their eternal immortal existence, of which wings were a symbol, a symbol that then came to represent all who had joined their ranks as immortal beings. When St Matthew found himself portrayed as a winged angel in the Church of St Pudenziana in Rome it was in recognition of the fact of his membership of the heavenly hosts as an immortal being, one who has stepped outside the boundaries of time.
Orthodoxy and Heresy in Two Byzantine Chronicles
Orthodoxy was defined at synods and in particular at the ecumenical synods of the church. Given the apparent importance of orthodoxy and heresy in the Byzantine world, we would expect Byzantine Chroniclers in their general coverage of a period to reflect this concern in their reporting of the major synods.
Of our early chronicles, however, there is virtually nothing about synods in Malalas (so little that our subtext for the fifth ecumenical synod in Malalas, A Translation is probably suspect) and little more in Chronicon Paschale, though both (and especially Malalas) do help reveal the pervasive influence of the Church and Christian emperors in society and are well aware of heresy (though even here there are peculiar twists in their reporting).
By the ninth century the chronicle of Theophanes, though often reliant on the early chronicles, gives much greater attention to heresy and to the synods (though with little information) as also do other later chronicles. The paper asks whether this results from a change in the place of heresy in Byzantine society or arises from the particular interests of individual writers.
On Concepts of Orthodoxy and Dissension in Arab Islamic Society in its Encounter with Hellenism
If it is accepted that Byzantine religious attitude was dominated by the idea of orthodoxy, to what extent can the same be said of the early Islamic outlook? How strong was the presence of a ‘dogmatic impulse’ in the early Islamic tradition? To what extent was ‘particularity’ accepted as ‘legitimate’ within Islamic ‘orthodoxy’? And what kind of interplay existed between ‘uniformity’ and ‘particularity’? If the concept of ‘consensus‘ is considered so important in Islam, what were the implications of such consensus in terms of belief, thought and behaviour? To what extent, and in what ways, was ‘difference’ expressed in Islamic thought and action? Or is it more accurate to speak of Islamic ‘orthopaxy’ rather than ‘orthodoxy’?
This paper addresses such questions in the context of religious, intellectual and artistic expression in the early Islamic period. In the first place a brief consideration of these questions is attempted in connection with the evolution of such religious disciplines as the recitation and interpretation of the Qur’an, the transmission of the Prophet’s Traditions (Hadith), ritual, jurisprudence, and ‘theology’. Particular attention is then given to issues of uniformity and dissension in areas of artistic expression, attitude to figural representation in the visual arts; attitude to music and song; and attitude to wine, as reflected in Arabic literature, including poetry, belles lettres and medical works. Focus will be on early Islamic society in Syria, Mesopotamia and Egypt, as well as Mecca and Medina (up to the mid-9th century CE). Where appropriate, this is viewed against the background of Islam’s cultural and intellectual encounter with Hellenistic, Byzantine and Eastern Christian traditions.
Tracking the Influence of Eustathius on Macrina the Younger and Her Family
Anna Margaret Silvas
Gregory of Nyssa’s damnatio memoriae of Eustathius in The Life of Macrina is well known. We want to look behind this silence and piece together the evidence for Eustathius’ influence on Macrina the Younger and her family.
We must first be aware of the many links – doctrinal, political and ascetic – between the Homoiousian theological party and Eustathius of Sebaste. The most important single instrument for ascertaining the Eustathians’ hyper-ascetic tendencies is the synodal letter and canons of Gangra.
Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Macrina (the VSM) fashions Macrina’s history into an ascetic ‘tradition’, almost as an exemplification of Basil’s ascetic doctrine.
The VSM is very clear that it is Macrina who is the leader of the ascetic impulse in her family and the protagonist of its gradual transformation from a wealthy Neocaesarean urban household to a fully-fledged ascetic community in the country, with an ordered place for men, women, boys and girls.
But to what extent was Eustathius behind Macrina? We look into his relationship with Basil’s family, even to his apparent influence on Basil’s early life and education. The family resided in Neocaesarea at the same time Eustathius incurred censure by the church there for his ascetical views (339?). A chronology of Macrina and her early ascetic experiments: she first resolves on her life as a virgin-widow, c. 341. Basil Senior had been necessarily resident in Neocaesarea in pursuit of his legal career. But once he dies, the family moves to its country estate at Annesi in the late 340′s. Here Eustathius visits them, here Macrina makes headway in inducing her family – in particular its head, her mother Emmelia – to commit themselves to the ascetic life. It seems the death of Naucratius, the first of the sons to wholeheartedly follow Macrina’s lead, is a watershed in the evolution of Emmelia’s household.
By the mid- to late-360′s the community’s transformation into a classic ‘Basilian’ cenobium is complete. But it was Macrina who led the way. We show how the evolution of her ascetic life goes hand-in-glove with the shaping of Basil’s own cenobitic doctrine, his promoting a modus vivendi between the ascetic communities, the great Church and orthodox (neo-Nicene) doctrine.
A Three-fold Controversy Over the Trinity: An Unregarded Attempt at Cross-Pollination Between the Christian and Islamic Faiths at Byzantium in 1180
Study of the funeral oration of Eustathios of Thessaloniki for the deceased Emperor Manuel I Komenos has revealed a passage of some three paragraphs dealing with the Emperor’s successful counterstance to an Eastern heretic. His nationality, ‘Assyrian’, suggests a Moslem convert to Christianity who, after the manner of the Arians, exulted the Godhead above the other persons of the Trinity.
In fact, it would seem that three separate controversies of Manuel’s reign have lain simmering beneath Manuel’s best efforts to suppress them. The paper discusses each of the three controversies in turn, and concludes that Manuel’s vigilance had been required to prevent outbreaks of doctrine he regarded as heretical.
The Death of the Emperor Julian: Reopening the Wound
The controversy over the death of Julian has not, contrary to opinion, been closed by recent research. The fact remains that our best-informed witness had no idea of what happened, so how can we?
Classicism and Iconoclasm: Unorthodoxy in Photius
The official career of Photius began with the restoration of Orthodoxy by the Empress Theodora who abandoned the Iconoclastic faith of her late husband Theophilus, an event still remembered in the Eastern church on the first Sunday of Lent as the Festival of Orthodoxy and Saint Theodora. Though in fact painted iconic pictures were restored rather than statues, this settlement virtually ended the long and schismatic controversy in 843 AD. However, though Photius is known to us as theologian, man of letters and Patriarch from 858-867 and again from 878-886, he in fact began by holding military and bureaucratic posts. Appointed Captain of the Guard in 843, he subsequently became First Imperial Secretary under his patron the Caesar Bardas, who was Regent for the young Michael III, last ruler of the Amorian dynasty. Then, when Bardas had arrested and imprisoned Patriarch Ignatius, Photius, though a layman, was installed as Patriarch by his patron after receiving the requisite Holy Orders in a period of six days in November 858. Already linked with Bardas’ new Academic Institution at the Magnaura headed by the great scholar Leo of Thessalonika, Photius was recognised as a brilliant scholar. His controversial high office, which sharpened Church conflict between Patriarchate and Papacy, also ensured the preservation of his writings which set afoot the great Byzantine revival of literature. His huge Myriobiblon or Bibliotheca has preserved for us priceless fragments and summaries of many lost writings of antiquity, whilst his Lexicon, issued later with the aid of his pupils, was designed to enable his contemporaries to read the old Classics of paganism and the early Church writings with understanding. Though he wrote significant contributions to theological disputes, his great achievement was as an ecclesiastical statesman.
Though he suffers because his only biographer was his enemy Nicetas of Paphlagonia, his letters present a man of fine culture, though also deeply ambitious. It is easy to interpret this as proving he was worldly and unscrupulous; but this would be to ignore the enormous influence of the concept of Kairos, the ordained season or opportunity in human affairs. Perhaps what we call ambition was ‘waiting upon God’ in expectation. But his great legacy to his civilisation was the revival of historical study to show the great continuity of Classical and Romaic culture, beside which iconoclasm had been a temporary and aberrant reaction to Muslim success.
Reflections on the Adamantius Dialogue
A tentative theory about the processes by which ‘mystery religions’ and ‘esoteric-looking’ Christianity become more exoteric, using the depiction of a ‘public debate’ in the Adamantius Dialogue (Recta in Deum Fide) as a springboard for analysis.
The Christianization of Scythopolis and the Identification of Arianism in the Fourth Century
Recent excavations at Bet Shean (Scythopolis) enable us to shed further light on the process of Christianization of the city and of Palestine and the East in general. The Christian congregation in Scythopolis is mentioned for the first time by Eusebius in his De Martyribus Palaestinae, in connection with Procopius, who suffered martyrdom in Caesarea in 303. We have gathered important information concerning the end of the temples, probably under Theodosius I, and no later than 400 CE, but hitherto, no church has been found at Bet Shean which we can assign to the fourth century. In general Scythopolis (at least in its city centre) preserved its ‘classical’ character throughout the fourth century.
Several sources mention that Christianity was deeply rooted in Scythopolis in the mid-fourth century. Moreover they attest that Scythopolis favoured Arianism. Patrophilus, the Arian bishop of Scythopolis, was known as one of the most important Christian leaders of the East in the mid-fourth century. Epiphanius (Adversus Haereses XXX 5) preserves the testimony of Joseph Comes that he (Joseph) was the only supporter of the Nicaean orthodoxy in the entire town. Epiphanius even mentions that Eusebius of Vercellae, the Orthodox bishop, was expelled to Scythopolis in 355.
The efforts of archaeologists to distinguish archaeological remains (namely churches) of the various religious groups (i.e. Arians, Nestorians, Monophysites etc.) have so far proved unsuccessful.
Such a distinction remains one of the most desired goals of Early Byzantine archaeology. While excavating the fourth-century levels at Scythopolis we paid much attention to this problem, again with no real success. Still, we found (in secondary use) one inscription adorned by crosses, probably of the fourth century, which was incised on a monumental marble lintel, mentioning the building of a beautiful building for the ‘Kingly Justice’ (Basileia Dike) by a certain Strategius. The inscription contained four lines; the two lower lines were carefully erased in a later period (though the erasers preserved the cross at the end of the line). It seems probable that the erasure was made by church authorities, perhaps in order to conceal unorthodox expressions, either pagan or more probably Arian.
The paper intends to discuss the inscription and show the general background of the Christianization of Scythopolis in the fourth century.
Orthodoxy and Unorthodoxies: Cause and Effect in George Synkellos
This paper will discuss what Synkellos might have regarded as the (various) orthodoxies to which his universal chronography should conform. It will then consider how he treats:
(a) those who dissent from these, and
(b) his own necessity to dissent from these, both with the purpose of cultivating the (his) truth: his own orthodoxy.
It will be argued that ‘the tension between cultivation of truths and dissension from conformity’ in this work is the cause that effects much of its value.
Knock it down or let it Stand? Orthodoxy and the Opposition: Architectural Opinions from Syria-Palestine
The overwhelming presence of impressive pagan monuments in the public heart of towns in Late Antiquity were, it has been argued, a potent visual challenge to the ultimate triumph of Christianity. In many towns, however, any such threat was neutralised by the total demolition of the temples and their substitution with magnificent churches. Examples include, most famously, Constantine’s basilica in Jerusalem, and also Caesarea Maritima, Scythopolis (Baysan), Gerasa (Jarash) and Eboda (`Abda).
Less commonly, however, temples were simply converted into churches and monasteries. This paper reviews a few recently discovered examples of temple conversion and reutilisation at a number of sites in Palestine and Arabia, including Gerasa (temples of Zeus and Artemis), Philadelphia (`Amman), Khirbat Dharih and Arindela (Gharandal). At Petra and Tiberias, pre-Christian monuments were also readily converted to serve new functions.
The diverse nature of this material from annihilation to a comfortable refitting of a pagan structure raises questions of community motivation and attitudes to competing religious ideologies. Were urban populations solely driven by political and religious motives, or did the impracticality of converting existing buildings result in their demolition? If an existing structure was retained, did pragmatic economic factors prevail or are we observing a more “relaxed” attitude to pagan structures, especially in the sixth century?
There may be lessons in this inquiry for the Early Islamic Period in Syria-Palestine, especially the common question (often favoured in Western scholarship) of the conversion of Christian churches into mosques by the conquering Muslim elite. Examples are relatively few, and again the practical aspects of converting a church into a mosque can be questioned. In the larger urban centres, building size would have posed a problem. Few churches would have been large enough to accommodate all the Muslim faithful. As a rule, each town had only one congregational mosque compared to many churches, and Muslim prayer requirements demanded different facilities and greater individual space. Hence, preference was seemingly directed to the construction of new buildings of worship.
Liturgical Relation Between Copts (Anti-Chalcedonian) and Greeks (Chalcedonian) after the Council of Chalcedon
Youhanna Nessim Youssef
After the council of Chalcedon, it is accepted that there was (is) a schism between Copts and Syriacs on the one hand and Greeks (Byzantines and Western-Romans) on the other hand. Although, we can never say that there is (or was) a complete schism. The study of the Coptic Liturgy shows that there was (is) relation between the two churches. In this paper we will give some examples from the 5th, 6th, 7th, 16th and 19th centuries.