Essays from the Copenhagen Symposium, 14-15 August, 2017
Edited by Mette Bundvad and Kasper Siegismund
Nikolai N. Seleznyov
In the first, still unpublished, volume of The Blessed Compendium (al-Majmūʿ al-mubārak) – the historical work of the 13th-century Arabic-speaking Christian writer al-Makīn ibn al-ʿAmīd, there is a chapter on the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II the Younger (r. 402-450). In this chapter, Ibn al-ʿAmīd retells the famous story of Moses of Crete, “who appeared among the Jews” and declared himself to be the Messiah to subsequent tragic disappointment of those who believed in him. The present article discusses this story and suggests an explanation for the discrepancies between Ibn al-ʿAmīd’s text and its Arabic source – the Book of the Heading (Kitāb al-ʿUnwān) of Agapius of Manbij (Hierapolis).
The Church Slavonic Song of Songs Translated from a Jewish Source in the Ruthenian Codex from the 1550s (RSL Mus. 8222)
A New Revised Diplomatic Edition
Alexander I. Grishchenko
This paper presents the new and actually the first diplomatic publication of the unique 16th-century copy of the Church Slavonic Song of Songs translated from a Jewish original, most likely not the proper Masoretic Text but apparently its Old Yiddish translation. This Slavonic translation is extremely important for Judaic-Slavic relations in the context of literature and language contacts between Jews and Slavs in medieval Slavia Orthodoxa.
The article seeks to reassess and contextualise the conversion narrative of the Egyptian monk Pachomius, the founder of coenobitic monasticism. It thereby offers a case study into how and why the Pachomian literary tradition was shaped, altered and abridged, while also challenging the traditional views associated with Pachomius’ military career.
The well-being of a person was viewed by the Byzantines as a complex interplay of divine providence, guiding a person throughout his life to salvation, and his will, freely choosing between virtue and sin. Several solutions were given to the problem of misfortunes which might befall a person, since they could not result from the actions of a good God: from ultimate non-involvement of God into the voluntary actions of humans, to pedagogical temporary “stepping aside” by God to demonstrate the futility of human actions which go against the best predestined course of life, to active divine intervention as “bitter medicine” for the correction of human wrongdoings and putting an end to uncorrected sin. These problems are discussed in the treatise On the Predestined Terms of Life by Patriarch Germanus I of Constantinople and in the Dialogue against the Manichees by John of Damascus, who thoroughly adapted and reworked the Homily That God Is Not the Author of Evil by Basil of Caesarea for the discussion of theodicy.
The last two decades have seen extensive research on the Trinitarian theologies of several post-Nicene Fathers. Not much, however, has been done for John Chrysostom. Thomas Karman and Pak-Wah Lai have demonstrated separately that Chrysostom shares several theological beliefs with the Eusebian-Meletians, including the doctrine of divine incomprehensibility, and their anti-Sabellian concerns. Stylianos Papadopoulos has claimed further that Chrysostom is a successor of both Athanasius and the Cappadocians’ teachings. Among the Cappadocians, it was Basil of Caesarea who first allied himself with the Meletians in the 370s. This makes him a prime candidate for examining Chrysostom’s reception of Cappadocian theology. We observe, first of all, that both bishops operate within the Meletian tradition, employing a wide range of Eusebian motifs to denote the Trinitarian relations, including the use of hypostatic language as a safeguard against Sabellianism. Both also assume God’s nature as incomprehensible. Basil, however, also developed several theological ideas which feature prominently in Chrysostom’s homilies. Specifically, a doctrine of divine simplicity that distinguishes between the knowledge and conceptions of God’s ousia, a careful distinction between God’s ousia and hypostasis whereby the latter is taken as representing ousia in its particular properties or idiomata, the illuminating role of the Spirit, and, finally, the defence of the Son and Spirit’s full divinity by underscoring the fact that they are equal in knowledge, authority, honour, and power as the Father. Taken together, these similarities suggest strongly that Basil’s teachings loom large in Chrysostom’s Trinitarian theology.
ʿAbdīšōʿ of Gāzartā, the second patriarch (1555-1570) of the East Syriac Uniate (Chaldean) Church, is known as a founder of its literary tradition, and an author of numerous liturgical and non-liturgical poems. He was also active as a scribe, of whose production several manuscripts survive that were never studied before. The present paper discusses them, in particular the historical and autobiographical information that is found in the scribe’s colophons and notes. This information is of a large importance for the history of the Christian communities in early Ottoman time.
Serge A. Frantsouzoff
The deeds and exploits of St. Lalibäla who was the most famous king of the Ethiopian Zagwe dynasty are still awaiting to be published in full. To the modern researchers this important medieval text is available only in excerpts published by J. Perruchon in the 19th century. The author argues that Lalibäla’s Deeds is far from being an Ethiopian folklore. They comprise valuable authentic data, e.g. the persecution of Lalibäla at the royal court, his escape into the desert, his marriage, his subsequent becoming a king, the organization of his army, taxation policies and history of construction of the famous monolithic churches in the centre of Lasta. The author also argues that the title wäldä nägaśi, which is mentioned in his Deeds as well as its parallel wld/ngšy-n found in Middle Sabaean inscriptions is a sufficient evidence in favour of the military and political continuity between the Aksumite and Zagwe epochs. The Lalibäla’s Deeds comprise many minute details about the everyday life, which suggests that the Christians of Ethiopia had a centuries long oral tradition of preserving and transmitting historical information.
Among early Christian writers, Didymus of Alexandria occupies an unusual position being a theologian who garnered renown while enduring a significant physical disability, since he became blind in early childhood. Scholars of Didymus have frequently bemoaned the lack of biographical information concerning this famous teacher, and some suggest that Didymus never expresses regret for losing his physical eyesight in his own writing, arguing that he considered spiritual insight more valuable. Most recent monographs on Didymus have been content to cite traditions about Didymus’ blindness, but few have sought to track the emergence of the few traditions about him and how these sources might relate to each other and have conflicting theological agendas. This paper seeks to address these lacunae by closely examining references to Didymus from his own contemporaries, all of whom personally met him, in order to make some suggestions of how this might open some new avenues for better understanding attitudes toward physical disability in early Christianity and particularly Didymus as a blind Christian theologian.
Oksana Yu. Goncharko and Dmitry N. Goncharko
The paper is devoted to the reconstruction of the “iconophilistic” logic theory built by Theodore the Studite in his pro-icon writings during the “scholastic” period of the Second Iconoclasm Christological controversy. We argue that Theodore the Studite invented the non-Aristotelian identity distinction and implemented the two types of identity (the identity of nature and the identity of hypostasis) within his Christological argumentation, demonstrating how the contradictory properties of the two natures of Christ should be accepted consistently. The main issue of the present paper is to discuss the examples of non-classical logical thinking undertaken by Theodore the Studite, which are devoted to the description of how the identity principle should work, why the icon principle is self-referential, and why the duality of the properties of Christ should be accepted by all Christians in order to be iconophiles and logically correct at the same time.