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The Byzantine Lists: ERRORS OF THE LATINS (Illinois Medieval Studies) [Hardcover]

By Tia M. Kolbaba (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   248
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.35" Width: 6.25" Height: 0.92"
Weight:   1.22 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Aug 31, 2000
Publisher   University of Illinois Press
ISBN  025202558X  
EAN  9780252025587  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The Byzantine lists cataloguing the 'errors' of Latin Christians have been dismissed by generations of scholars as the writings of deranged fanatics. In contrast, Tia M. Kolbaba takes these texts seriously and presents an explanation of their significance that is both erudite and eminently readable. The lists were written by Byzantines who believed that western Christians had fallen into heresy and impiety. Systematically addressing each fault enumerated in the lists - including the Filioque, fasting on the Sabbath, prohibiting clerical marriage, eating unclean food, and crossing themselves the wrong way - Kolbaba traces the likely explanations of the differences in custom and ritual between eastern and western Christians.She considers when Byzantine Christians first raised a given issue and whether any ecclesiastical law speaks to the subject. She discusses whether the Latins actually did what they were accused of and whether any Byzantine Christians also did what the Latins were accused of. She also shows how misinterpretation, misunderstanding, and xenophobia played a role in exaggerating Latin and Byzantine differences. Kolbaba skillfully argues that the lists represent a desperate effort by some Byzantines to retain their cultural independence as Latin dominance in the military and commercial spheres slowly strangled the eastern empire. "The Byzantine Lists" also speaks meaningfully to the issue of xenophobia as it appears in every age: the effort to distinguish between 'us' and 'them' by establishing one's own culture as the norm and condemning difference on the other side.

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An Interesting Examination of Medieval Greek Attitudes  Jul 26, 2006
Tia Kolbaba has written a fairly short, but very informative work regarding attitudes of the Greek Christians toward Latins. Beginning in the 11th century many Greek Religious authors composed lists of errors which the Western Church was guilty of. Among the errors listed are matters of foods eaten, religious rituals such as Lenten Fasting and Baptism, dress, behaviors such as marriage and a Latin addition to the Nicene Creed known as the Filioque (the addition of the words; "and the Son", to the procession of the Holy Spirit in the Creed - the Greeks retained the original "from the father", without this addition).

Kolbaba discusses which errors are listed and the frequency with which they are found in the various lists. This is a very interesting portion of the work; however those who have read one of the History's of the Byzantine Empire such as Vasiliev, Ostrogorsky or Treadgold will find later portions more valuable for it is here that she turns to a discussion of what these lists tell us - not about the Latins but about the Greeks themselves.

First Kolbaba discusses how many of the Greeks participate in the same errors as the Latins. She believes that many of these lists were not meant primarily to turn the Greeks against the Latins, but rather to argue that, by engaging in these behaviors, Greeks resembled them. While this is a form of demonization, it is more along the lines of, "You shouldn't be doing that - you behave like a barbarian!" For a society which prided itself on its perceived superiority to the West, this could be very powerful.

In later chapters Kolbaba discusses the general change in tone contained in these lists over time. Where earlier lists decry the Latin errors, they are less hostile and many state that almost all of the errors, with the exception of the Filioque, while wrong, may be forgiven as not reflecting a loss of truth regarding religion. However the later lists become progressively more hostile toward the Latins and tend to point out more negatives not related to religion, such as the barbarians being unreliable, uncouth, loud, violent, uneducated, etc. For obvious reasons, this becomes even more pronounced after 1204. At its extreme, these involve pure demonizing - priests use icons as toilet seats, bathe in urine and use the ashes of animals in rituals.

This also serves as a very interesting illustration of how societies, when threatened, become more conservative and tend to pull into themselves, battling mightily to preserve their sense of what they are and retain what makes their place in the world unique. As any Byzantine student knows, the last half century or so of the Byzantine Empire contained several instances of the olive branch from the West being dangled before them - resolve the schism and join your Church to ours and an Army will come to save you. Whether any army would have staved off the inevitable is arguable. What is not is that when Emperors such as Michael Palaiologos gave any indication that they might accept such an offer, the residents of what remained of the Empire rose powerfully against it.

This was a very enjoyable work. Kolbaba uses an interesting method to organize her work but one which works quite well. If I have a criticism, I believe a bit more time could have been spent on the Latin reaction to these Lists. Were they offended? How often did letters arrive from the West reacting to the latest slander - as they surely perceived it - against their religious practices? Or were they relatively uncaring? Certainly the West wrote their own lists of errors of the Byzantines, but what did they think of these lists written in the East?

In any case, this work will make valuable reading for anyone interested in what the Greeks thought of their Western contemporaries; as well as giving a great deal of insight into how their society defended itself culturally against the physically stronger west; and how the Eastern Empire responded to its approaching destruction.
The Hate Literature of Medieval Byzantines  Jun 15, 2001
This is a remarkable work by an eminent Byzantinist who has specialized in the anti-Latin polemical literature which was to have a profound effect in poisoning relations between medieval Latins and Byzantine Greeks and thereby impeding the union of the Churches.Such religious literature emanating largely from monastic circles and enumerating the abhorrent "errors" of the Latins proved to be far more influential in demonizing them than the works of professional theologians dealing with major dogmatic issues (such as the famous'Filioque'dispute) fueling the Schism between Rome and Constantinople. What were the "errors" which imbedded themselves so deeply in the Byzantine psyche that they caused such fanatical hostility towards Westerners and a massive resistance to the union of the Churches? The Latins were guilty of pillaging and looting during the first 3 Crusades and the horrific sacking of Constantinople, but pious Byzantines were further assured by religious propaganda that the Latin "heretics" were, in addition, vulgar barbarians, alien to refined manners, indecent, and "utterly filthy in their failure to distinguish between sacred things, people, actions, and profane ones". Byzantine grievances were many: Latins ate unclean foods, had contact with bodily excretions, spit near the altar, consecrated a new pope by laying the hands of a dead pope upon him, used icons for toilet seats, etc., etc. These Lists of Latin errors constituted a fascinating species of Hate-literature, but they had a special effect on the Byzantine masses in making them fear, despise, and contemn their conquerors as well as the Byzantine unionists seeking to overcome "cross-cultural misunderstandings" exacerbated by chauvinistic and xenophobic polemics. Not all Byzantines, of course, fell victim to such irrational propaganda but such Lists clearly manifested "the most extreme manifestation of anti-Latin sentiment in Byzantium". Interestingly, this scholarly study reveals that the Byzantine theologians who contributed to the Lists evidenced some serious confusion concerning doctrine and discipline and what constituted necessary and optional elements of the faith. Dr.Kolbaba utilizes the insights of cultural anthropologists and studies in the sociology of religion to analyze in some depth the psychology of medieval Greeks whose Byzantine orthodoxy and orthopraxis was fixated in liturgical and ritual forms regarded as sacred and immutable. Students of Byzantine history, and Catholics and Eastern Orthodox seeking to understand the dynamics of the Byzantine Greco-Slav Schism will find this an enlightening study that can only further genuine ecumenism.

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