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Author Topic: New Book on Byzantine Sexuality, Marriage, and Celibacy  (Read 9861 times) Average Rating: 0
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Fr. Pat
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« on: January 10, 2009, 08:24:07 AM »

Posted with permission of Fr. Anastasios

To All,

I would like to bring your attention to the publication of my book on Sexuality, Marriage and Celibacy in Byzantine Law.  The book contains a partial translation of a primary Byzantine source dealing with this subject, the Alphabetical Collection of the hieromonk Matthew Blastares, which was written in the fourteenth century.  The book has an extensive introduction with historical background and analysis.  The translation is footnoted with identification of Byzantine sources, historical events, and persons.

The Alphabetical Collection is a Byzantine canon law encyclopedia organized according to the letters of the Greek alphabet, with topics treated first from the perspectives of the canons and then with citations of Byzantine civil law.  Blastares includes much analysis of each topic, including remarks on relations with the “Latins.” 

The hieromonk has an extensive description of the responsibilities of and the service used for women deacons.  Blastares analyzes the place of women in the Church and describes their purity and impurity.  He also depicts the ideal functioning of a monastery and sets forth standards for monastic life. 

One of the most interesting aspects of his work is its definition of marriage and the way in which matrimony is formed.  In general, the Eucharist was viewed by Blastares as fulfilling a symbolic role in the nuptial rite with regard to the worthiness of both the couple and marriage itself.  However, Eucharistic participation was not regarded as a necessary element in the establishment of matrimony.

The translation comprises forty-nine chapters of Blastares’s work covered under eight letters of the Greek alphabet.  Information on abduction, homosexuality, and menstruation is found under Letter Alpha. The material contained under Letter Beta deals mainly with restrictions on who is permitted to marry. The end of this section deals with the dignity ascribed to marriage. Material on the nature of marriage, remarriage, polygamy, forbidden unions, women, ordination of women, divorce, betrothal, married clergy, the use of virgins by priests, frequency of intercourse by married couples, sexual assault, and abortion can generally be found under Letter Gamma. Sexual dreams and masturbation are covered under Letter Kappa. Adultery, celibacy, monks, and nuns are treated under Letter Mu. The children of priests are dealt with under Letter Tau. Abortion is covered under Letter Phi. The nature of ordination and Christianity is discussed under Letter Chi.

The book is available directly from its publisher, Holy Cross Orthodox Press (http://store.holycrossbookstore.com/hocrpr.html), as well as Amazon and St. Vladimir’s Bookstore.

Fr. Patrick Viscuso
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« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2009, 08:40:12 AM »

Posted with permission of Fr. Anastasios

To All,

I would like to bring your attention to the publication of my book on Sexuality, Marriage and Celibacy in Byzantine Law.  The book contains a partial translation of a primary Byzantine source dealing with this subject, the Alphabetical Collection of the hieromonk Matthew Blastares, which was written in the fourteenth century.  The book has an extensive introduction with historical background and analysis.  The translation is footnoted with identification of Byzantine sources, historical events, and persons.

The Alphabetical Collection is a Byzantine canon law encyclopedia organized according to the letters of the Greek alphabet, with topics treated first from the perspectives of the canons and then with citations of Byzantine civil law.  Blastares includes much analysis of each topic, including remarks on relations with the “Latins.” 

The hieromonk has an extensive description of the responsibilities of and the service used for women deacons.  Blastares analyzes the place of women in the Church and describes their purity and impurity.  He also depicts the ideal functioning of a monastery and sets forth standards for monastic life. 

One of the most interesting aspects of his work is its definition of marriage and the way in which matrimony is formed.  In general, the Eucharist was viewed by Blastares as fulfilling a symbolic role in the nuptial rite with regard to the worthiness of both the couple and marriage itself.  However, Eucharistic participation was not regarded as a necessary element in the establishment of matrimony.

The translation comprises forty-nine chapters of Blastares’s work covered under eight letters of the Greek alphabet.  Information on abduction, homosexuality, and menstruation is found under Letter Alpha. The material contained under Letter Beta deals mainly with restrictions on who is permitted to marry. The end of this section deals with the dignity ascribed to marriage. Material on the nature of marriage, remarriage, polygamy, forbidden unions, women, ordination of women, divorce, betrothal, married clergy, the use of virgins by priests, frequency of intercourse by married couples, sexual assault, and abortion can generally be found under Letter Gamma. Sexual dreams and masturbation are covered under Letter Kappa. Adultery, celibacy, monks, and nuns are treated under Letter Mu. The children of priests are dealt with under Letter Tau. Abortion is covered under Letter Phi. The nature of ordination and Christianity is discussed under Letter Chi.

The book is available directly from its publisher, Holy Cross Orthodox Press (http://store.holycrossbookstore.com/hocrpr.html), as well as Amazon and St. Vladimir’s Bookstore.

Fr. Patrick Viscuso


How early do the sources go?
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« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2009, 02:48:00 PM »

Posted with permission of Fr. Anastasios

To All,

I would like to bring your attention to the publication of my book on Sexuality, Marriage and Celibacy in Byzantine Law.  The book contains a partial translation of a primary Byzantine source dealing with this subject, the Alphabetical Collection of the hieromonk Matthew Blastares, which was written in the fourteenth century.  The book has an extensive introduction with historical background and analysis.  The translation is footnoted with identification of Byzantine sources, historical events, and persons.

The Alphabetical Collection is a Byzantine canon law encyclopedia organized according to the letters of the Greek alphabet, with topics treated first from the perspectives of the canons and then with citations of Byzantine civil law.  Blastares includes much analysis of each topic, including remarks on relations with the “Latins.” 

The hieromonk has an extensive description of the responsibilities of and the service used for women deacons.  Blastares analyzes the place of women in the Church and describes their purity and impurity.  He also depicts the ideal functioning of a monastery and sets forth standards for monastic life. 

One of the most interesting aspects of his work is its definition of marriage and the way in which matrimony is formed.  In general, the Eucharist was viewed by Blastares as fulfilling a symbolic role in the nuptial rite with regard to the worthiness of both the couple and marriage itself.  However, Eucharistic participation was not regarded as a necessary element in the establishment of matrimony.

The translation comprises forty-nine chapters of Blastares’s work covered under eight letters of the Greek alphabet.  Information on abduction, homosexuality, and menstruation is found under Letter Alpha. The material contained under Letter Beta deals mainly with restrictions on who is permitted to marry. The end of this section deals with the dignity ascribed to marriage. Material on the nature of marriage, remarriage, polygamy, forbidden unions, women, ordination of women, divorce, betrothal, married clergy, the use of virgins by priests, frequency of intercourse by married couples, sexual assault, and abortion can generally be found under Letter Gamma. Sexual dreams and masturbation are covered under Letter Kappa. Adultery, celibacy, monks, and nuns are treated under Letter Mu. The children of priests are dealt with under Letter Tau. Abortion is covered under Letter Phi. The nature of ordination and Christianity is discussed under Letter Chi.

The book is available directly from its publisher, Holy Cross Orthodox Press (http://store.holycrossbookstore.com/hocrpr.html), as well as Amazon and St. Vladimir’s Bookstore.

Fr. Patrick Viscuso

Sounds facinating, I'll certainly be ordering my copy, thanks for another academic work and translation from an extremly interesting era all too often ignored.

By the way, any word on the progress of the translation of the Syntagma?
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« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2009, 02:50:43 PM »

How early do the sources go?

It's primarily a translation of the Canonist Blastares, so early 14th century with likely earlier references as is the case with all the canonists. As to how much additional commentary was included and the nature of this commentary, I'll let Fr. Patrick respond.
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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2009, 07:17:28 PM »

Father Bless!

Thank you...something to add to my reading list.
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« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2009, 07:42:09 PM »

Welcome Father!
I look forward to receiving my copy!
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« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2009, 09:21:25 PM »

In answer to your question, Blastares’s civil and ecclesiastical sources are diverse and span the entire life of the Empire.  His writing is a work of synthesis and provides a comprehensive view of the Byzantine Church’s ecclesiastical legislation and canonical thought. 

He touches on a number of writers and legislators ranging from St. Gregory the Theologian to Theodore Balsamon.  In his introduction to the Alphabetical Collection, Matthew Blastares dates his own work as being finished in 1335. 

It is interesting to observe that Blastares is dealing with the same received body of canon law as the contemporary Orthodox Church, namely, canons from the ecumenical and local councils as well as those drawn from patristic authorities.  His challenge is to translate these canons into a contemporary application that addresses the Church’s needs.

Fr. Patrick Viscuso
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« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2009, 09:09:06 PM »

I added it to my Amazon wishlist.   Grin
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