What was Byzantine Christianity?

What was Byzantine Christianity?

sunset

with Charles Freeman
(Independent Scholar)

at the Old Court, Sutton Hoo
on Saturday, 25th January 2014.

This study day will explore the rituals, hierarchy and magnificent buildings of the Byzantine church up to the final break with Rome in 1054.

Provisional Programme
(There may be variations to the programme on the day)
10:00 Coffee on arrival
10:15 The early Christian church was always stronger in the eastern Greek-speaking Mediterranean. Byzantine Christianity is, arguably, a direct descendant of the earliest Christianity, using the original Greek texts of the New Testament. The granting of toleration by Constantine and the establishment of Constantinople as his eastern capital consolidated eastern Christianity and we will explore the development of a distinct Byzantine Christianity though the reigns of Constantine, Theodosius I and Justinian. The emphasis, in contrast to the west, will be on the dominant position of the Byzantine emperors within the Byzantine church, with Constantinople declared second only in status to Rome in 381. This session will also discuss some leading figures of early Byzantine Christianity such as the Nicene fathers and St. John Chrysostom.
11:15 Coffee
11:45 Constantine initiated the policy of grandiose church building and this session will look at a variety of surviving churches, among them Hagia Sophia and the church of Sergius and Bacchus in Constantinople and the Church of the Sepulchre in Jerusalem. We will also look at the wonderful examples of Byzantine mosaics that survive, notably in Ravenna.
12:45 Lunch break
14:00 With the discovery of the True Cross in Jerusalem by Helena, the mother of Constantine, relics and icons become an important part of Byzantine Christianity. We will look at the imperial collection in Constantinople and the way in which relics/icons were used in defence of the empire and in boosting the prestige of the emperors in court ritual. Specific mention will be made of the famous Image of Edessa. The session will conclude with the iconoclasm controversy of the eighth century and the reassertion of the importance of relics and icons in the ninth century.
15:00 Tea break
15:15 Up to the eleventh century the Byzantines had continued to respect the primacy of Rome but Byzantine and Latin Christianity were culturally so different that a schism was perhaps inevitable. It came in 1054 when a papal bull was thrown onto the altar of Hagia Sophia excommunicating the Byzantine Greeks. It was followed by the notorious Fourth Crusade of 1204 in which Constantinople was sacked by the Latin Christians who, declaring the Greeks heretics, looted many of their most precious relics. Already the ancient Christian cities of Alexandria and Antioch had long fallen to Islam, now the seat of the remaining patriarchy, Constantinople, had been humiliated but worse came with the capture of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. The heart of Byzantine Christianity had been destroyed. This will be a fitting point to sum up and conclude the day.
16:20 Close

About Charles Freeman

Charles Freeman is a Suffolk-based freelance academic author with a wide interest in the history of the Mediterranean.. His published works include The Closing of the Western Mind (2002) and A New History of Early Christianity (2009). His most recent book,  Holy Bones , Holy Dust, How Relics Shaped the History of Medieval Europe (Yale University Press 2011), is the first systematic history of relic cults in English. He is also Historical Consultant to the Blue Guides series and has written the historical introductions to many of the Italian volumes. He leads study tours to Italy, Greece and Turkey.

Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

Charles Freeman is a Suffolk-based freelance academic author with a wide interest in the history of the Mediterranean.. His published works include The Closing of the Western Mind (2002) and A New History of Early Christianity (2009). His most recent book, Holy Bones , Holy Dust, How Relics Shaped the History of Medieval Europe (Yale University Press 2011), is the first systematic history of relic cults in English. He is also Historical Consultant to the Blue Guides series and has written the historical introductions to many of the Italian volumes. He leads study tours to Italy, Greece and Turkey.

Bookings

Please phone or email to check the availability of places. Study Days are £36 per person, which includes a full day of lectures, access to the NT site, parking, coffee and tea throughout the day, and access to the NT exhibition. Once you have reserved your place please send payment to confirm the booking. For your first booking please complete the application form to ensure that we have recorded your contact details correctly.

Wuffing Education,
4 Hilly Fields,
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 4DX
tel : 01394 386498

Email cliff AT wuffingeducation.co.uk
(replace ‘AT’ by ‘@’ in order to send email – we used ‘AT‘ to avoid spam robots automatically sending us emails)

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