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Showing posts from October 19, 2014

THE HISTORY OF THE TURKISH AND OTTOMAN EMPIRE

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A. Kaldellis: The Hagiography of Doubt and Scepticism

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A. Kaldellis' chapter from The Companion to Byzantine Hagiography (ed. S. Efthymiadis) is available online.
Scepticism in religious matters is not what comes to mind when we think of Byzantium. In fact, it is routinely asserted that there was no such thing, indeed that it could not have existed because a credulous religious mentality was allegedly pervasive and overpowering. To quote only one scholar, A.H.M. Jones: ‘Sceptics and rationalists, if they existed, have left no mark on history and literature’.1 This belief, however, is the result of a commitment to a particular view of the ‘essence’ of Byzantine culture that rests on modern needs and inventions. Ironically, the genre that testifies powerfully to the ubiquitous presence of scepticism is hagiography, the very corpus that is commonly cited to prove the opposite case. The recurring figure of the man who doubts the saint’s power and expresses scepticism at his alleged miracles, only to be struck down by God and eventually c…

Digitized manuscripts: Medieval Arabic translations of Greek treatises on mathematics by Euclid

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The newly inaugurated Digital Library of Qatar has fascinating Arabic manuscripts in digital form. Here is a 13th c manuscript of Euclid.
Click here to access the manuscript and to explore other medieval books.

Free book chapter: The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World

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An event which influenced the history of both Byzantium and the Western states, the crusades pose many problems to the researchers of today.
Were the crusades a Holy War in Byzantium?
The late G.T. Dennis tried to give an answer to this question in a Dumbarton Oaks volume.
Click here to read more

CALL FOR PAPERS: PERSPECTIVES ON LANGUAGE AND CULTURE IN EARLY CHRISTIANITY

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KU Leuven announces a new conference on literary culture in early Chrisitanity:
The intellectual landscape of the Classical world was radically altered by the rise and spread of Christianity, which brought about a transformation of moral and cultural values, beliefs and attitudes. Profound changes also occurred in the practical and theoretical approaches to languages as cognitive, ethnic and cultural phenomena. The linguistic horizon of Western scholars was considerably widened through direct acquaintance with the Old Testament languages (Hebrew and Aramaic); at the same time Early Christian authors became increasingly aware of the startling linguistic diversity within the Roman world and outside of it.Read more

The complete list of digitized manuscripts from the Vatican Library

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New book: Missionary Stories and the Formation of the Syriac Churches

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From California University Press a new book by Jeanne-Nicole Mellon Saint-Laurent Missionary Stories and the Formation of the Syriac Churches.
This book analyzes the hagiographic traditions of six missionary saints in the Syriac heritage: Thomas, Addai, Mari, Simeon of Beth Arsham, Jacob Baradaeus, and Ahoudemmeh. Saint-Laurent studies a body of legends about missionaries' voyages in the Syrian Orient and illustrates their shared symbols and motifs. Revealing how these texts encapsulate the concerns of the communities that wrote them, she draws attention to the role of hagiography as a malleable genre that was well suited for the idealized presentation of the beginnings of Christian communities. Hagiographers, through their reworking of missionary themes, assert autonomy, orthodoxy, and apostolicity for their individual civic and monastic communities, posturing themselves in relationship to the rulers of their empire and other competing forms of Christianity. She argues that miss…

Pilgrimages to Jerusalem in Byzantium

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As a large scale social and religious phenomenon in Byzantium, pilgrimages produced a good number of texts and other source materials.
A recent brief article from Bible History Daily discusses the Byzantine pilgrimage.
Jerusalem has been revered as a holy city for millennia—with pilgrims a staple feature in its bustling streets. Egeria’s Travels and the journals of the Bordeaux Pilgrim and the Piacenza Pilgrim demonstrate that this was as true in the Byzantine period as it is today. Click here to read it.

Byzantine local complex discovered in Israel

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Israel's Antiquities Authority announced a recent discovery of a compound near Beit Shemeish dating from the Byzantine era.

The complex consists of olive presses, mosaics, and wine presses.

Irene Zilberbod and Tehila Libman, excavation directors for the Antiquities Authority said:

It is true we did not find a church at the site or an inscription or any other unequivocal evidence of religious worship. Nevertheless, the impressive construction, the dating to the Byzantine period, the magnificent mosaic floors, window and roof tile artifacts, as well as the agricultural-industrial installations inside the dwelling compound are all known to us from numerous other contemporary monasteries.Click here for the full report 


Archaeologists uncover synagogue mosaic of first non-biblical scene

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American archaeologists have recently found what they believe to be the first non-biblical scene in a synagogue mosaic.
The report mentions three mosaics with very different iconographic models found in the 5th c. synagogue at Huqoq, in Israel’s Lower Galilee. In particular, what struck the researchers was the image of an elephant, an animal which can be rarely found in the Hebrew Bible but it was generally associated with Alexander the Great.

Click here to read the full report