"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).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Byzantine Iconoclasm

As I have remarked before, books on icons continue to pour forth from all manner of publisher today. Books on iconoclasm have not followed at quite so brisk a clip, nor certainly in a "popular" format. Iconoclasm remains the province of scholars such as Thomas Noble, whose book Images, Iconoclasm, and the Carolingians I have commented on earlier.

Now a massive new book is forthcoming to give us a renewed study of this phenomenon--which, far from being confined to the seventh, eighth, or ninth centuries, is alive and well today:

Leslie Brubaker and John Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, c.680-850: A History (Cambridge University Press, 2011), 942pp.

About this book, the publisher tells us:
Iconoclasm, the debate about the legitimacy of religious art that began in Byzantium around 720 and continued for nearly one hundred and twenty years, has long held a firm grip on the historical imagination. This is the first book in English for over fifty years to survey this most elusive and fascinating period in medieval history. It is also the first book in any language to combine the expertise of two authors who are specialists in the written, archaeological and visual evidence from this period, a combination of particular importance to the iconoclasm debate. The authors have worked together to provide a comprehensive overview of the visual, written and other materials that together help clarify the complex issues of iconoclasm in Byzantium. In doing so they challenge many traditional assumptions about iconoclasm and set the period firmly in its broader political, cultural and social-economic context.
 I look forward to having this book reviewed in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies.

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