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Byzantine Hermeneutics and Pedagogy in the Russian North

Byzantine Hermeneutics and Pedagogy in the Russian North: monks and Masters at the Kirillo-Belozerskii Monastery, 1397-1501

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Byzantine Hermeneutics and Pedagogy in the Russian North
    Book Description:

    The first micro-historical 'ethnology of reading' in the Early Slavic field,Byzantine Hermeneutics and Pedagogy in the Russian Northwill prove fascinating to western medievalists, Byzantinists, Slavists, and book historians.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8410-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xviii)

    • 1 ‘Where Is the Russian Peter Abelard?’: Silence and Intellectual Awakening at a North Russian Monastery
      (pp. 3-32)

      From the time of its foundation in 1397 to the end of the fifteenth century, the Kirillo-Belozerskii (Kirillov–White Lake) Monastery at the far north of the Muscovite state grew into a great centre of textual activity, amassing one of the largest libraries in the Rus’ lands. The monastery had been founded by an experienced hesychast monk who, the story went, was sitting in his cell in Moscow and reciting a hymn to the Mother of God when he saw a vision of light and heard a voice telling him to leave for the northern ‘desert.’ The sources – hagiographical...

    • 2 The ‘Artless Word’ and the Artisan: Approaching Monastic Hermeneutics in Eastern Europe
      (pp. 33-78)

      In 1460 a copy of thePilgrimage of Hegumen Daniilwas made at Kirillov. This copy, found in the codex GIM, Sin. no. 951 together with the cosmological treatiseOn the Sky(the compilation of which attests to a renewed interest in cosmology at the monastery in the second half of the fifteenth century – but we are running ahead of our story), is an almost complete exemplar, preserving Daniil’s structure and his ethical exegesis of scripture. It took its copyist on a readerly pilgrimage through the liturgical year. From this copy, the monk Efrosin made two epitomes, a long...


    • 3 ‘Strangers to the World, Fixing Our Minds in Heaven’: St Kirill’s Laura as a Textual Community (1397–1435)
      (pp. 81-127)

      The history of the textual community at White Lake begins, of course, with the interpretation of a book. In 1397 the monk Kirill (in the world, Koz’ma Vel’iaminov),¹ reading theAkathistos Hymnin a cell at the abandoned Old Simonov Monastery in Moscow, paused to meditate on the verses

      Seeing this strange birth,

      Let us become strangers to the world,

      Fixing our minds in heaven,²

      upon which, it was said, he saw a vision of light and heard a voice telling him that his goal lay in the far north, at White Lake. TheAkathistos Hymnwas a familiar text...

    • 4 ‘The Lover of This Book’: ‘Philosophy’ and Philology under Hegumen Trifon (1435–1448)
      (pp. 128-174)

      At some date around 1440, two learned monks from the great cenobitic house of the Trinity outside Moscow, Simon Kartmazov and Spiridon, arrived at the Kirillov Monastery. Finding it a ‘quiet and untroubled place,’ they chose to remain. Simon and Spiridon would have found their new home familiar in certain ways, for Kirillov had been transformed to resemble a large Byzantine cenobium. Yet however learned they may have been (and we know little about the range of schooling available to a Muscovite monk at the time), it is nonetheless likely that they would have marvelled at thepaideiatransmitted by...

    • Intermedium: The Schooling and Professionalization of Scribes, 1448–1470
      (pp. 175-185)

      During the long tenure of Kassian (hegumen 1448–70) at Kirillov, the cenobitic rule and the hegumen’s powers were consolidated and the cult of the founder historicized with the composition of Kirill’sLife. This is the least-researched period in the history of Kirillov’s library and its school. Oleshka Palkin copies his last codex around the start of Kassian’s hegumenate and Efrosin begins his scribal work near its end, yet no names have been associated with the important editions and manuscripts of the 1450s and 1460s: the so-called Efrosin redaction of the SerbianAlexander Romance;¹ the cosmographical tractOn the Sky;...

    • 5 ‘The Best Thing of All Is One’s Own Will’: The Community of Scholars at Kirillov (1470–1501)
      (pp. 186-258)

      In the ‘Disputation with Iosif Volotskii’ – usually (and incorrectly) assigned to the pen of the prince-monk Vassian Patrikeev, disciple of the learned Kirillov hesychast Nil Sorskii – the following exchange is put in the mouths of the hegumen of the cenobitic house of Volokolamsk and the tonsured prince:

      Iosif: Concerning how Nil and his student Vassian abused not only the wonder-workers of the Rus’ land, but also the wonder-workers of old in faraway lands; they did not believe in their miracles, and cast their miracles out of the scriptures.

      Vassian: Thus, Iosif, you slander me and my elder Nil,...

  7. Epilogue: Some Possibilities and Limits of ‘Byzantine Humanism’
    (pp. 259-268)

    There was no Byzantine scholasticism. We may learn this from the article on ‘Scholasticism’ in theOxford Dictionary of Byzantium, which is limited to contacts with Latin thought after the Fourth Crusade. Likewise, José Ignacio Cabezón’sScholasticism: Cross-Cultural and Comparative Perspectivesincludes essays on Latin, Islamic, Tibetan Buddhist, Jewish, Taoist, Neo-Confucian, and Hindu ‘scholastic’ traditions, but not a word about Byzantine or any other Orthodox scholasticism. Basil Tatakis refers frequently to ‘scholastic’ thinkers in Byzantine philosophy, and Paul Alexander has described Patriarch Nicephorus’s theology of icons as ‘scholastic.’¹ Yet these traces of affinity are left to disappear in a sea...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 269-370)
  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 371-406)
  10. Index of Manuscripts
    (pp. 407-410)
  11. Index
    (pp. 411-452)