The role of opposition in Byzantium has not been well studied, but a recent academic conference, and the even more recent publication of its proceedings, aim to change that: Dimiter Angelov and Michael Saxby, eds., Power and Subversion in Byzantium: Papers from the Forty-Third Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, University of Birmingham, March 2010 (Ashgate, 2013), 299pp.
About this scholarly collection we are told:
This volume addresses a theme of special significance for Byzantine studies. Byzantium has traditionally been deemed a civilisation which deferred to authority and set special store by orthodoxy, canon and proper order. Since 1982 when the distinguished Russian Byzantinist Alexander Kazhdan wrote that 'the history of Byzantine intellectual opposition has yet to be written', scholars have increasingly highlighted cases of subversion of 'correct practice' and 'correct belief' in Byzantium. This innovative scholarly effort has produced important results, although it has been hampered by the lack of dialogue across the disciplines of Byzantine studies. The 43rd Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies in 2010 drew together historians, art historians, and scholars of literature, religion and philosophy, who discussed shared and discipline-specific approaches to the theme of subversion. The present volume presents a selection of the papers delivered at the symposium enriched with specially commissioned contributions. Most papers deal with the period after the eleventh century, although early Byzantium is not ignored. Theoretical questions about the nature, articulation and limits of subversion are addressed within the frameworks of individual disciplines and in a larger context. The volume comes at a timely junction in the development of Byzantine studies, as interest in subversion and nonconformity in general has been rising steadily in the field.A second book recently published treats many of the same themes: Phil Booth, Crisis of Empire: Doctrine and Dissent at the End of Late Antiquity (University of California Press, 2013), 416pp.
About this book we are told:
This book focuses on the attempts of three ascetics—John Moschus, Sophronius of Jerusalem, and Maximus Confessor—to determine the Church’s power and place during a period of profound crisis, as the eastern Roman empire suffered serious reversals in the face of Persian and then Islamic expansion. By asserting visions which reconciled long-standing intellectual tensions between asceticism and Church, these authors established the framework for their subsequent emergence as Constantinople's most vociferous religious critics, their alliance with the Roman popes, and their radical rejection of imperial interference in matters of the faith. Situated within the broader religious currents of the fourth to seventh centuries, this book throws new light on the nature not only of the holy man in late antiquity, but also of the Byzantine Orthodoxy that would emerge in the Middle Ages, and which is still central to the churches of Greece and Eastern Europe.