"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).

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Byzantines in Boats

I have just stumbled upon a small but fascinating press that--perhaps because it lives in the shadow of a much larger university press in the same town--had been unknown to me previously: the Cambridge Scholars Press. In perusing their lists, I spy several recent titles of interest to Eastern Christians:

Trevor Curnow, Pantokrator: An Introduction to Orthodoxy:

About Curnow's book the publisher tells us the following:
Although most people think of Greek philosophy as “Western”, its religion is commonly referred to as “Eastern”. For those who have not spent time in countries where Orthodox Christianity is the dominant religion, it can seem exotic and alien. Even those who visit these countries can come away with little understanding of it. Pantokrator: an Introduction to Orthodoxy helps those unfamiliar with Orthodoxy to become acquainted with the history of the Orthodox Church, what it teaches, how it is structured, and how it differs from other churches. There is also a brief guide to the architecture and internal design and decoration of Orthodox churches. Because monasticism plays an important role in the life of the Orthodox Church, an account is given of the monastic life. This is illustrated with reference to how that life is lived on Mount Athos, an enclave within Greece run entirely by monks. The history and organisation of the Holy Mountain, as Athos is called, is explained in general terms with a more detailed account of one of its monasteries, Pantokrator.

Savvas Neocleous, ed., Papers from the First and Second Postgraduate Forums in Byzantine Studies: Sailing to Byzantium

About this collection, the publisher tells us:
Sailing to Byzantium brings together ten probing and pertinent critical papers, presented at the First and Second Postgraduate Forums in Byzantine Studies, held at Trinity College Dublin on 17-18 April 2007 and 15-16 May 2008 respectively. These essays engage with various facets of Byzantine history and culture. Many of them seek to shed new light on frequently controversial subject matters relating to history, historiography, and religion (the contentious nature of Jerusalem in Byzantine imperial ideology; medieval Western attitudes and perceptions of the Byzantine Empire; and the translation and use of Greek theologians in the West). Elsewhere, there are papers that tackle aspects of Byzantine literature (Encyclopaedism; the circulation of poetry; and a case study of political rhetoric in Manuel II’s Dialogue with the Empress-Mother on Marriage). Finally, history of art and cult come under the microscope in the last two essays of the volume (the meaning of the eight-century apsidal conch at Santa Maria Antiqua in Rome and the origins of the cult of Saint Martin in Dalmatia). Sailing to Byzantium is a provocative, wide-ranging collection and a must for students and academics who wish to broaden their understanding of one of history’s most fascinating civilizations.

Eugenia Russell, ed., Spirituality in Late Byzantium: Essays Presenting New Research by International Scholars:

About this book the publisher says:
This collection of essays on late Byzantine spirituality presents new research covering a very important but less than well-documented period of Byzantine culture. Its thematic cohesion, originality of thought, variety of methodological approaches and broad intellectual range, make it a valuable contribution to the field and an asset for academics and students alike. The essays discuss pertinent historical, textual, liturgical and doctrinal matters, and through new evidence and re-appraisals of accepted scholarly views they seek to make their mark.
Table of Contents:

Introduction - Eugenia Russell
Part I: The Seeds of Hesychia and the Theologians of Hesychasm:
1) The Reforming Abbot and his Tears: Penthos in late Byzantium (Hannah Hunt)
2) The Patriarch Philotheos Kokkinos and His Defence of Hesychasm (Norman Russell)
3) Symeon of Thessalonica and his Message of Personal Redemption (Eugenia Russell)
4) Reading Denys in late Byzantium: Gregory Palamas’s Approach to the Theological Categories of ‘Apophasis’ and ‘Union and Distinction’ (James Blackstone)
Part II: Four Case Studies on Late Byzantine Spirituality:
5) The ‘Testament of Job’: From Testament to Vita (Maria Haralambakis)
6) Donors and Iconography: The Case of the Church “St. Virgin”in Dolna Kamenitsa (Teodora Burnand)
7) The Church of the Most Pure Virgin at the Village of Graeshnitsa (Robert Mihajlovski)
8)  Journey of the Soul to Perfection: Nicetas Stethatos (Jozef Matula)
Afterword - Eugenia Russell
List of Contributors
About the Editor

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