Magi of great spiritual Rochester seeks consorts

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Preferred Citation: Harvey, Susan Ashbrook. Berkeley: University of California Press, c To my parents "Did not our hearts burn within us on the road. This study has been completed with the help of many people, and I am grateful to all concerned. Some contributions must, however, be noted. The thesis phase of this book was kindly supported at different times by the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission and the American Association of University Women.

The final production has been undertaken with the gracious assistance of the American Council of Learned Societies, the University of Rochester, and Brown University. I began my work with John of Ephesus for a doctoral thesis, and I remain deeply indebted to my supervisors, Sebastian P. Brock and Frances M. They have taught, exhorted, encouraged, and inspired me to an extent I can hardly measure; and they continue to do so, with deep generosity.

Were my debt to them less, I would feel less keenly the inadequacies of this study. Fine, Jr. I thank all of them; needless to say, shortcomings remain my own. In addition, I am grateful to Doris Kretschmer, Mary Lamprech, and Franci Duitch of the University of California Press for their patient and good-natured guidance in the production of this book; to Timothy Seid of Brown University for his kind technical assistance; and to Susan Lundgren for her thoughtful skill in preparing the index. Finally, my husband Jim has been unfailingly supportive; his sustaining presence s for more than I can say.

The Mediterranean world of late antiquity has in recent years gained popularity with scholars and the lay public both. A lacuna has been present in our studies thus far, however, in the case of a major and compelling writer from this era, John of Ephesus.

Living in the sixth century, John led a varied career as a Monophysite monk, missionary, writer, and church leader. John wrote in Syriac and his focus is often the eastern Byzantine provinces, especially his homeland Mesopotamia.

But John's career took him throughout the empire of his day, and he knew the imperial court of Constantinople as intimately as he knew the villages of Amida's regions. John's writings are important in part because they concern a personal encounter with the full Byzantine world Magi of great spiritual Rochester seeks consorts his time, and in part because few writers from late antiquity have opened that world so vividly as he.

John lived through the period spanning the Monophysite movement's greatest successes and defeats. In his youth the Monophysites represented a formidable source of energy and creativity in the Byzantine realm; in his old age, John saw them not simply defeated but stale-mated: discredited by the Chalcedonians on the Byzantine throne and incapacitated by their own internal bickerings. Within and beyond this frame of activity were the people of John's world.

For John's home, the eastern provinces of Byzantium, the sixth century was above all a time of suffering. Their lands provided the battleground for war between Byzantium and Persia. Their monasteries and church communities, Monophy. Famine and plague were chronically ubiquitous. It was a century when tragedy both able and capricious was the fabric of daily life. John has received uneven treatment by modern scholars. Appreciation for his ificance was first shown in the pamphlet by J.

Subsequent studies culminated in the monumental work of A. Djakonov, Ioann Efesskiy Petrograd, —still the only monograph devoted to John. Further efforts followed, primarily textual, and critical editions of John's writings were published in the s and s, accompanied by translations into English for the Lives of the Eastern Saints and into Latin for the Ecclesiastical History. Nonetheless, John's works continued to be utilized mainly by Syriac scholars, while historians of the late Roman and early Byzantine periods persisted in sidestepping his contribution.

In recent decades, however, scholars of late antiquity have turned to a more comprehensive treatment of the materials available to us, and a greater appreciation for Syriac sources has been apparent. An upsurge in the interest shown for John of Ephesus' Ecclesiastical History has accompanied this wider view, and not least because John's records contrast with the contemporary s of the Greek literati.

For the most part, John's Lives of the Eastern Saints have not shared the limelight. The Lives have been used primarily for the information they contain about Magi of great spiritual Rochester seeks consorts key figures and events in the ecclesiastical crises of the sixth century. This study is an attempt to bring John's Lives of the Eastern Saints into view.

They provide a different perspective from that of his History. Rather than a chronological record of important events, one finds here what is often lacking in such records: the daily world of ordinary people, and how they coped with war, plague, famine, and persecution. Here one sees, above all, Syrian asceticism fully developed. Its practitioners are at home in the small world of the villager, and sometimes, too, in the larger one of the imperial court.

But the Syrian ascetics also reflected their times. By the end of the sixth century, even the vitality of this movement had been worn down. John of Ephesus and his Lives of the Eastern Saints provide an opportunity to learn about life in a time and place of drastic events. Here we. In writing the stories of holy men and women whom he had known, John shows us the confrontation between extreme experience and the human necessity of shaping that experience through narrative.

The hesitation that scholars have shown in the instance of John's Lives in fact stems largely from its literary form. For despite John's personal acquaintance with his subjects, and despite his professed intention to record in the Lives only what he himself has seen or can verify, hagiography alters both an author's material and its presentation. The nature of hagiography does not invalidate the historicity of John's Livesbut it does require that we read the text with a particular understanding. Hagiography is a literary genre in which form is as important as content in understanding the text.

Its task is to render the world of human experience comprehensible. It does this in two ways: first, by celebrating the saint whether real or legendary as one through whom God acted in the realm of human life; and second, by using a standardized language of literary topoi that identified the saint as saint and interpreted the saint's work as that of divine agency.

Recognizing the formulaic, non-historical language of hagiography opens the route for treating the standardization itself as historical material. These texts offer us historical information, even in the most stringent sense, only if we can ask the appropriate questions.

Standardization in hagiographical language is not a static matter. Favorite themes change; and the criteria of sanctity itself change in accordance with fluctuations in the values of society. Standard hagiographical themes, their periods of fashion and forms of expression, reveal the subconscious concerns of their societies and serve to establish a larger sense of order for those whom they are written to guide.

How, then, can we approach hagiography so as to evaluate the interaction of formulaic and historical material? The text must be heard on its own terms as well as in its hagiographical context; one must separate the standardized material from the author's perspective and establish how and why the author is using the hagiographic medium. There are clues internal to the text: the author's style, emphases, choices and viewpoints, and the author's position as distinct from the subject's.

There are also external clues by which to measure the internal evidence: other sources—hagiographical, archaeological, archival, historiographical—and other information can be brought to bear upon the text.

The consistency and coherence of a text, the interplay between an author's intent and content, analyses of comparative and contrasting material—all of. In the listening, we can discern what the text is saying, and what we can learn from it. John of Ephesus' Lives of the Eastern Saints is a work of hagiography in the historical rather than the legendary tradition of saints' lives. Unlike many works of this kind, John's collection is not primarily stereotyped or didactic. It is a work incorporating a strikingly personal element, as John not only participated in much of what he sets down but also is actively present in his role Magi of great spiritual Rochester seeks consorts author.

In the present study, John himself stands at the center. As will be seen, his individualistic manner is constantly apparent; more than a matter of style, John produces a form of hagiography peculiarly his own. His circumstances do much to encourage his individuality. The purpose of the present study is to explore the relationship and interaction between asceticism and society in the sixth-century Byzantine East. In particular, we are concerned with how this relationship works for the Monophysite ascetics, what factors influenced it, and what the consequences and implications may have been.

How do we see the particular historical circumstances reflected in the ascetic experience John describes hagiographically? As John tells us, it was a time when stylites descended from their pillars to enter the arena of religious controversy; anchorites returned to towns and cities to care for the laity in the absence of exiled church leaders; exile became a part of monastic practice; the needs of the laity overrode the sentiments of bishops in the formation of a separate church hierarchy; and women took leadership roles they would otherwise have shunned.

The situation of religious controversy was compounded by war with Persians, invasions by Huns, extended famine, bubonic plague, and collective hysteria. We can see the contrast of Mesopotamia in its calamity with the expansion and prosperity experienced elsewhere in the Byzantine Empire during the first half of the sixth century; we can see also the contrast of provincial life to that of the cosmopolitan centers, whether Antioch, Jerusalem, or Constantinople.

Our goal here is to break the religious experience down into its component parts, in search of the meaning ascribed to the larger event. Establishing the historicity of John's text is thus neither the methodology nor the point of this study, nor does it attempt to prove a thesis.

Rather, it seeks to see a situation: What is the story John tells? How are we to understand it? This is not a book about John of Ephesus as a historian. I chose to write about his Lives because they are not the history of his time but rather the story of the people who live in his world.

Magi of great spiritual Rochester seeks consorts

I will. My purpose is to understand what Syriac spirituality meant to these people, both those who practiced an ascetic career and those who did not. Consequently, this is also not a book about the Monophysite movement, nor is its originating point of reference the Council of Chalcedon in Rather, the point of origin is Syrian asceticism, its roots and development.

In this particular instance, the ascetics are also Monophysites. While the church crisis colored their situation, as the book emphasizes, they are not themselves the entire Monophysite body far from itnor are they the reason for the separation of the churches. Their spirituality, their asceticism, and their responses to the crises of their times do not depend on their Monophysitism but rather on their Syriac heritage.

The continuity of that heritage is ultimately more important than the change brought by persecution. Because the material is generally unfamiliar to scholars and students of late antiquity, this study starts with an introduction to the Syrian Orient of the sixth century.

I do this by focusing on particular texts that illustrate the themes important for John of Ephesus; there is a context in which the ascetic practice John records makes sense in practical as well as symbolical terms.

Syrian asceticism did not develop through a sequence of events.

Magi of great spiritual Rochester seeks consorts

It developed in a collective experience, in which individuals and communities pursued a variety of goals for various reasons. The people rather than the events were the determining factors, and they overlapped, clashed, and harmonized in patterns rather than in a clear progression. The same is true of the spirituality studied in this book. Events affected it and forced people to make certain decisions or changes; those circumstances are central to this study insofar as they reveal the people and their spirituality more clearly.

The first chapter then introduces John himself, his writings, and the literary issues of the Lives. The following chapters focus on those events that shaped John's collection: the development of asceticism in a time of crisis chapter 2 ; the plague of madness in the city of Amida, as a collective societal response to the years of calamity chapter 3 ; the impact of exile on monastic practice, and the functioning of monastic communities as refugee camps chapter 4 ; mission, the breakdown of Byzantine imperial ideology in the East, and the formation of separate churches chapter 5 ; the fluctuating position of women chapter 6 ; and, finally, an assessment of John's hagiographical purpose chapter 7.

In using John's Lives to the end, we will work with the awareness that John is writing hagiography for a specific reason and with a specific. In order to see what John is doing and how and why he does it, the Lives will be treated throughout this study together with contrasting and complementary writings of late antiquity, both Greek and Syriac.

Magi of great spiritual Rochester seeks consorts

We will seek to clarify the singular experience contained in the work. These are particular people in a particular world. To see them on their own terms and to hear their story as truly theirs is to touch history as a living thing. Hagiography is about a theology of activity. The careers of the saints are one expression of this theology. The writing of hagiography is another. Since no one can speak for John of Ephesus better than he himself, I have illustrated this study with his own words as much as possible.

For the most part I quote from the translation of E. Brooks, though occasionally I have altered the text or, where noted, substituted my own. Syriac began as a dialect of Aramaic, spoken in the region of Edessa early in the first century of the Christian Era.

But it became, too, the lingua franca over a much wider area of the eastern Roman frontier. Although the Middle Ages under Islamic domination brought a serious decline in Syriac literature, apart from that for liturgical or ecclesiastical use, recent generations have brought a renewal of it once again. Throughout its existence, Syriac has been a language in tension with other, more influential languages. Perhaps more than any other factor, this has shaped its history.

It may have been spurred to full development as a reaction against its religious setting in the first century: the Jewish and pagan connotations of Aramaic and Greek facilitated Syriac's adoption as a cultural vehicle for Christianity, particularly in a geographical area where the population prided itself on the primacy of an early affirmation of the Christian faith, in contrast or so Edessans claimed to the. Greco-Latin realm. Furthermore, unlike Greek, which struggled in late antiquity to reconcile Hellenic tradition and Christian context in its literary forms, Syriac developed as a Christian medium; relatively young as a literary language, it was free of the archaizing pressure exerted on Hellenic literature.

Magi of great spiritual Rochester seeks consorts

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Rediscovering a Lost Spiritual ‘Book’