"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, December 18, 2017

After Dying in Byzantium, Where Does Your Soul Go?

If you hang around any Orthodox blogs or apologetics sites, you'll soon come across heated discussion about "toll-houses" and related matters trying to figure out the soul's fate post-mortem. The scholar Stephen Shoemaker, whom I have interviewed on here in the past in connection with his other works, has an excellent essay here.

Shoemaker's essay references, inter alia, recent works on the topic, including a book released just this spring:  Death and the Afterlife in Byzantium: The Fate of the Soul in Theology, Literature, and Art 
by Vasileios Marinis (Cambridge UP, 2017), 214pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
For all their reputed and professed preoccupation with the afterlife, the Byzantines had no systematic conception of the fate of the soul between death and the Last Judgement. Death and the Afterlife in Byzantium marries for the first time liturgical, theological, literary, and material evidence to investigate a fundamental question: what did the Byzantines believe happened after death? This interdisciplinary study provides an in-depth analysis and synthesis of hagiography, theological treatises, apocryphal texts, liturgical services, as well as images of the fate of the soul in manuscript and monumental decoration. It also places the imagery of the afterlife, both literary and artistic, within the context of Byzantine culture, spirituality, and soteriology. The book intends to be the definitive study on concepts of the afterlife in Byzantium, and its interdisciplinary structure will appeal to students and specialists from a variety of areas in medieval studies.

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