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The Making of the Byzantine Ascetical Canon: Monastic Networks, Literacy and Religious Authority in Palestine and Sinai (7th-11th centuries)

The Making of the Byzantine Ascetical Canon: Monastic Networks, Literacy and Religious Authority in Palestine and Sinai (7th-11th centuries)

Objective

"This research project will investigate the role played by the multilingual Christian monastic communities of Early Islamic Palestine and Sinai (7th-11th centuries CE) in the formation of the Byzantine literary canon of ascetic works. Throughout the Medieval period, Byzantine monks and ascetics across the Mediterranean relied as their main source of authority on the writings of the ""early fathers"", i.e. a series of ascetic authors who were active between ca. the 4th-7th centuries CE. The increasing spiritual authority invested in ascetic books and texts (the ""classics"") during the Byzantine period stands in stark opposition to the living examples of charismatic holy men and women who dominated Late Antique Christian discourses on asceticism. Although this shift from a personal to a literary type of authority had far-reaching consequences for the history of Byzantine Christianity, key questions with regard to the complex processes behind it never received an adequate treatment in scholarship: Where and when did the change take place and what was its scope? How did a ""canon"" of ascetic literature emerge, who carried out the selection of authors and works, and how was it disseminated? Employing innovative research methods from the fields of social and intellectual history, philology, manuscript studies and Digital Humanities, MonasByz argues that the fundamental shift occurred in Palestine and Egypt (Sinai) during the early Islamic period and that the monasteries of Mar Saba and St Catherine's played a pivotal role in this development. Through a systematic survey of the Greek, Syriac, and Arabic ascetic manuscripts produced in these centers between the 7th and 11th centuries, the project will identify the actors and resources involved in the production of books and reconstruct the local and supra-regional monastic networks, in order to trace the formation of a new way of disseminating spiritual authority via texts, which would prevail in the Byzantine period."
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Coordinator

UNIVERSITAT WIEN

Address

Universitatsring 1
1010 Wien

Austria

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 186 167,04

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 841476

Status

Grant agreement signed

  • Start date

    1 September 2020

  • End date

    31 August 2022

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.3.2.

  • Overall budget:

    € 186 167,04

  • EU contribution

    € 186 167,04

Coordinated by:

UNIVERSITAT WIEN

Austria