Academic journal article Theological Studies

The Life of Patriarch Ignatius

Academic journal article Theological Studies

The Life of Patriarch Ignatius

Article excerpt

The Life of Patriarch Ignatius. By Nicetas David. Text and Translation from the Greek by Andrew Smithies with Notes by John Duffy. Dumbarton Oaks Texts 13. Washington: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2013. Pp. xxxvii + 194. $30.

This fine critical edition, translation, and commentary purports to be the vita of the conservative anti-intellectual Byzantine patriarch Ignatius. In effect, however, it is a vituperative pamphlet against Photius, arguably Byzantium's greatest mind, written by the prolific Nicetas David, author of some 50 hagiographies, who was highly skilled at distorting evidence. Hence The Life offers a witness (of sorts) to an intriguing period when Roman pope and Constantinopolitan patriarch excommunicated each other, their rival churches descended into the filioque schism, and rival patriarchs Ignatius and Photius succeeded each other for two periods each of mutual abuse. Also at this time we witness a playboy emperor manipulated by his mother, uncle, and upstart usurper. A great deal else can be gleaned, with political and religious factors constantly interacting. Each and every statement in turn involves an emotive wider context, so that even an obscure European king's urge to replace wife by mistress resulted in a document strengthening Patriarch Photius's case against the pope. …

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