The Byzantine Lists

The Byzantine Lists : Errors of the Latins

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The Byzantine lists cataloguing the 'errors' of Latin Christians have been dismissed by generations of scholars as the writings of deranged fanatics. In contrast, Tia M. Kolbaba takes these texts seriously and presents an explanation of their significance that is both erudite and eminently readable. The lists were written by Byzantines who believed that western Christians had fallen into heresy and impiety. Systematically addressing each fault enumerated in the lists - including the Filioque, fasting on the Sabbath, prohibiting clerical marriage, eating unclean food, and crossing themselves the wrong way - Kolbaba traces the likely explanations of the differences in custom and ritual between eastern and western Christians.She considers when Byzantine Christians first raised a given issue and whether any ecclesiastical law speaks to the subject. She discusses whether the Latins actually did what they were accused of and whether any Byzantine Christians also did what the Latins were accused of. She also shows how misinterpretation, misunderstanding, and xenophobia played a role in exaggerating Latin and Byzantine differences.
Kolbaba skillfully argues that the lists represent a desperate effort by some Byzantines to retain their cultural independence as Latin dominance in the military and commercial spheres slowly strangled the eastern empire. "The Byzantine Lists" also speaks meaningfully to the issue of xenophobia as it appears in every age: the effort to distinguish between 'us' and 'them' by establishing one's own culture as the norm and condemning difference on the other side.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 248 pages
  • 158.8 x 237.5 x 23.4mm | 552.39g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 025202558X
  • 9780252025587

Review quote

"This study shows that, rather than 'ridiculous' or 'hateful' documents -- adjectives Kolbaba herself sometimes finds it difficult to avoid -- the lists may be more productively understood as aggressive, yet complex, attempts to stake out and secure the boundaries of Orthodoxy against challenges, real and perceived, posed by the shifting cultural and political frontiers of the Middle Byzantine period." -- William L. North, Religious Studies Review "Only an outstanding scholar would dare to challenge accepted wisdom, is in this case: The Byzantine Lists were compiled over hundreds of years beginning in the 11th century. They were not assembled systematically until a later century." --The Orthodox Catholic Voice ADVANCE PRAISE "This deeply thoughtful book succeeds in creating an entire world out of evidence which is usually overlooked as myopic and vaguely disgusting. Kolbaba has entered into the imaginative world of Byzantium, to reveal a challengingly unfamiliar insistence on the relation of theology to ritual, of idea to symbol, of food to spirit. This is a model study of one great medieval society revealed in the mirror of its own extreme views of its overbearing western neighbor." -- Peter Brown, author of Authority and the Sacred: Aspects of the Christianisation of the Roman World "No seasoned specialist in the field will be able to go on thinking about things Byzantine without being affected by Tia Kolbaba's challenges. On the other hand, for newcomers to Byzantine studies, her ideas offer wonderful stimulation to further research. This is a superb piece of work by a superb scholar that will be an exciting and highly regarded contribution to Byzantine, Christian, and general religious studies." -- John W. Barker, author of Justinian and the Late Roman Empire
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