Pages

Saturday, May 23, 2020

26 - Book Review: "History of the Byzantine State"


History of the Byzantine State

New Brunswick, N. J.: Rutgers University Press, 1957. 543 pp.

By George Ostrogorsky

Reviewed by Georges Florovsky,
Harvard Divinity School

Church History: 
Studies in Christianity and Culture
(Volume 28, Issue 1 March 1959, pp. 96-97)

This book by Professor Ostrogorsky, of Belgrade University, needs no lengthy introduction. Since its first appearance in 1940, in German, it has been commonly acknowledged as a standard manual in the field. The text has been revised several times by the author, for edition in German, French, and English, and brought up to date. In the present American edition a fine selection of illustrations is added, arranged by Professor Charanis, in cooperation with Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, and also a new set of historical maps. The book is elegantly produced.

Monday, April 27, 2020

25 - Book Review: "The Life of General Makriyannis: Memoir and History"


Ο Bίος του στρατηγού Μακρυγιάννη: Αποµνηµόνευµα και Ιστορία
("The Life of General Makriyannis: Memoir and History")

Athens: Vivliorama, 2012. 549 pp.

By Νikos Theotokas

Reviewed by Eleni Andriakaina

Historein
(2014, Vol. 14)

The publication of Nikos Theotokas’ study comes at a critical juncture in contemporary Greece. Neither the book’s modest title, nor the pastness of its object, seem to have much relevance for the fierce urgencies of the present or even for the challenges – methodological, theoretical or institutional problems – now facing Greek scholars within the humanities and the social sciences. How then can we explain the appeal of the book to a wide readership within and beyond academia? And why the numerous and enthusiastic reviews it has received? One explanation lies in the long-lasting and enduring significance of Makriyannis’ writings for modern constructions of Greek identity. Makriyannis’ name evokes a past still present and still contested: the foundational event for modern Greece – the 1821 revolution. But the specific contribution of Theotokas’ book is also significant, since it powerfully challenges a range of current orthodoxies.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

24 - Book Review: "From Monastery to Hospital: Christian Monasticism and the Transformation of Health Care in Late Antiquity"


From Monastery to Hospital:
Christian Monasticism and the Transformation of Health Care in Late Antiquity

University of Michigan Press, 2005, pp. 235.

By Andrew T Crislip

Reviewed by P E Pormann

Cambridge Journals of Medical History
(2007 Jan 1; 51(1): 130–131)

The quest for the first hospital in history has occupied the minds of many scholars, especially since Timothy S Miller published his controversial book The Birth of the Hospital in the Byzantine Empire in 1985 (reprinted 1997). Crislip's present monograph, based on his doctoral dissertation, contributes to this debate. His main argument runs approximately as follows.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

23 - Book Review: "The Life of Saint Basil the Younger: Critical Edition and Annotated Translation of the Moscow Version"


The Life of Saint Basil the Younger:
Critical Edition and Annotated Translation of the Moscow Version

By Denis F. Sullivan, Alice-Mary Talbot and Stamatina McGrath

Dumbarton Oaks Studies, 45

Reviewed by Andrew Louth
(Durham University)

The Journal of Ecclesiastical History
(Volume 67, Issue 3, July 2016 , pp. 629-630)

The Life of Saint Basil the Younger (or the New) is a probably tenth-century vita that became enormously popular in Eastern Orthodox circles in the Middle Ages: twenty-two Greek manuscripts are known to survive, plus a further thirteen in demotic Greek; there are also medieval translations into Slavonic languages. Its popularity is not connected with any cult of the saint (indeed it is not clear if he was a historical figure at all), but rather the result of two visions, disclosed to and related by the author of the vita (who himself may be fictional), which take up nearly two-thirds of the text. It is the first vision that is particularly important, especially for popular Orthodox beliefs about the afterlife: it contains the most detailed account of the so-called aerial "tollhouses" (telonia), twenty-one in number, through which the departed soul has to pass after death. At each tollhouse, the soul is examined in respect of a series of sins, beginning with slander and ending with heartlessness and cruelty, demons accusing, angels defending. The vision concerns Theodora, a slave woman who looked after the saint, which she relates in the vision to reassure Gregory, the author, as to her fate. In her case, it is evident from the beginning that she will make it through the tollhouses, assisted not only by her acts of kindness, but by "spiritual gold" provided by the saint from his abundant virtue. Once the soul has passed the tollhouses, it is introduced to the other world, passing through the gates of heaven and visiting the abodes of the saints and the patriarchs, as well as making a visit to Hades. The soul then settles in the "place of repose": it is remarked that this takes place forty days after the soul has been separated from the body in death. This period of time, therefore, corresponds to the period during which services of prayer (Trisagion, Pannykhida) for the deceased take place - on the third, ninth and fortieth day - though in the vita it is only the fortieth day that is remarked. The notions set forth in colourful detail in the vision can be traced back to the fourth or fifth century, the treatise corresponding most closely to the account of the Life of St Basil immediately after the Mother of God, seems to me to reflect the anaphora of the Byzantine rite. These are, however, scarcely even blemishes in a painstakingly careful edition.