‘Denying Mary’s real presence in dreams and visions: divine impersonation in the Life of Constantine the Ex-Jew’, Byzantion, 78 (2008), 288-303

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  ‘Denying Mary’s real presence in dreams and visions: divine impersonation in the Life of Constantine the Ex-Jew’, Byzantion, 78 (2008), 288-303
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  Denying Mary’s real presence - Krausmüller Denying Mary’s real presence in apparitions and icons: divine impersonation inthe tenth-century  Life  of Constantine the Ex-Je Given the importance of the Virgin Mary in Byzantine cult and devotion it comes asno surprise that apparitions of Mary are often mentioned in  Lives  of ninth- and tenth-century saints. When hagiographers narrated such events they did not always identifyMary by her name but instead described her outward appearance. 1  his does notmean! however! that they wished to cast doubt on the identity of the Virgin. "uite thecontrary! by inviting their audiences to draw their own conclusions they sought tounderscore the veracity of their stories.   his strategy was effective because it couldrely on the belief that the characteristic features of Mary#s appearance guaranteed her real presence in dreams and visions. here can be no doubt that this belief was wide-spread at the time. $evertheless! it would be wrong to conclude that all Byzantinessubscribed to it. %n this article % wish to draw attention to one of the dissenting voices!the author of the tenth-century  Life  of &onstantine the '(-)ew *  BHG ! +,! whoe(plains an apparition of Mary to the saint as the intervention of an anonymous divine power that too/ on her shape. % show that this author ma/es use of the 0ate nti2ueconcept of divine impersonation! which postulates a radical dis3unction betweenoutward appearance and agent! and % e(plore possible reasons for his startlingdeviation from the contemporary consensus. Before delving into the analysis! however! it is necessary to ma/e a fewremar/s about &onstantine and the author of his  Life . &onstantine is an e(ceptionalfigure in Byzantine hagiography4 a convert from )udaism who in the later ninthcentury became a &hristian holy man. 5  6e was a native of 7yn*nada in south-westnatolia but spent most of his monastic career in the mountains of Bithynia! the mostfamous monastic centre of the time. 8rom there he undertoo/ a 3ourney to &yprus and 1 n e(ample for the e(plicit identification of Mary can be found in the  Life   of Peter of Atroa ! c. 9! ed.V. 0 :;'$ !  La Vie merveilleuse de saint Pierre d’Atroa  * Subsidia Hagiographica ! 5<! Brussels!1<=>! p. ,=! ll. =-> ? l. 514 φαι󱽷νεται ατ ... μητρο󱽷θεος … πιφαι󱽷νεται ατ ... ὐ ῷ ἡ ἐ ὐ ῷ ἡ χραντος Θεοτο󱽷κος ἄ . By contrast! we find a description of her appearance in the tenth-century  Lifeof Blaise of Amorium ! c. 1! ed. 6. @ '0'6A' ! in  Acta Sanctorum Novembris    IV  ! Brussels! 1<5=! p.>>5@'4 πορφυροσα󱽷ν ῦ   *ms. πορφοροσα󱽷ν ῦ ! ed. πυρφοροσα󱽷ν ῦ    τινα ν γυναικει󱽷 τ ἐ ῳ ῳ σχη󱽷ματι . his female figure in purple garb is subse2uently identified with Mary. he same figureappears again in a later vision where she is accompanied by twelve men whom the readers areobviously meant to identify as the twelve apostles! cf.  Life   of Blaise of Amorium ! c. 1+! ed. @ '0'6A' ! p. >>+@'. 5 he  Life of &onstantine the '(-)ew was edited by 6. @ '0'6A' ! in  Acta Sanctorum Novembris    IV  !Brussels! 1<5=! pp. >5->=>. 1  Denying Mary’s real presence - Krausmüller several trips to &onstantinople. +  ccording to the  Life  he prophesied that 'mperor Basil % would release his son 0eo from prison and designate him as his successor!which suggests some connection between the saint and the future emperor. 9 &onstantine#s  Life  was written before the year <15. =  Virtually nothing is/nown about the anonymous author. t the end of his te(t he solicits the saint#sintercession for those who buried his body but this information is too vague to allowinferences about the conte(t in which the  Life  was produced. >  %n his account of thesaint#s monastic career in Bithynia the hagiographer spea/s of Cour desert#! καθ ἡ ᾽ μς ... ρημος ἡ ᾶ ἔ ! which implies that he lived in this area. ,  6owever! elsewhere herefers to &onstantinople as C this  great city D#! τηὴν μεγα󱽷λην ταυ󱽻την  ... πο󱽷λιν !which would appear to situate him in the capital.   hese two data are not necessarilymutually e(clusive4 &onstantine#s hagiographer may have lived near $icaea butwritten for a &onstantinopolitan audience. <  %n any case! the  Life  is not the product of ahumble rustic. le(ander Eazhdan has already remar/ed on the author#s self-confidence! his condescending attitude towards his Csimple# hero! and his mar/edsympathy for the higher strata of society! and 0ennart ;ydFn has highlighted theauthor#s literary ambitions. 1 Eazhdan#s and ;ydFn#s brief notes are more or less the sum-total of modernscholarly efforts devoted to the  Life  of &onstantine. 11  %n this it shares the fate of many +  Life   of onstantine ! c. >1 ? c. ><! ed. @ '0'6A' ! p. >9> ? p. >9'. 9  Life   of onstantine ! c. ><! ed. @ '0'6A' ! p. >9'8. = his can be concluded from a reference to 0eo V% as being still alive! cf.  Life   of onstantine ! c. ><! ed.@ '0'6A' ! p. >98. >  Life   of onstantine ! c. ,! ed. @ '0'6A' ! p. >==8. ,  Life   of onstantine ! c. =<! ed. @ '0'6A' ! p. >9=&. &f. . E  6@$ ! onstantine the !e" ! in #$ford  %ictionar& of B&'antium ! 1 *1<<1! pp. =>-=,.   Life   of onstantine ! c. >1! ed. @elehaye! p. >9>. &f. 0. ;  A@H$ !  Ne" (orms of Hagiograph&) Heroesand Saints ! in *he +,th International B&'antine ongress- %umbarton #a.s/Georgeto"n 0niversit&-1ashington %22- August 345- +657- 8a9or Papers  ! ed. G. V %E$ ! $ew ;ochelle! $ew Aor/! pp. =+,-==9! esp. p. =9,. < %n his posthumously published  Histor& of B&'antine Literature  le(ander Eazhdan discusses theauthor of the te(t under the heading of Cprovincial literati# and classifies the te(t as Cprovincial# but hedoes so e(clusively on the basis of the provincial setting of most of the episodes. his argument is far from conclusive4 there is no reason why a &onstantinopolitan author might not have chosen to spea/ about events in the provinces! cf. . E  6@$ !  A Histor& of B&'antine Literature :5;<4+<<<= ! edited by&h.   $G'0%@%  *  National Hellenic >esearch (oundation2 Institute for B&'antine >esearch2 >esearchSeries  9! thens! 5>! pp. 15+-159. 1 E  6@$ ! onstantine the !e" ! p. =,I ;  A@H$ !  Ne" (orms of Hagiograph& ! p. =9,I cf. also 0.;  A@H$ ! &prus at the *ime of the ondominium as >eflected in the Lives of Sts2 %emetrianos and onstantine the !e" ! in *he S"eet Land of &prus ! ed. . . M. B ;A';   and G. 7. G 'J;G600%@'7 ! $icosia! 1<<+! pp. 1<-55! esp. p. 1<. 11 % have not seen 7t. ' 86AM%@'7 !  Παρατηρη󱽻σεις στο󱽸ν βι󱽻ο το Αγι󱽻ου Κωνσταντι󱽻νου το ξ ῦ ῾ ῦ ἐ Ιουδαι󱽻ων ᾿ ! in  Πρακτικα󱽸. ΙΓ’Πανελλη󱽻νιο στορικο󱽸 συνε󱽻δριο ἱ ! ?643+ 8a& +66? ! 7aloni/a! 1<<+! pp.=1-=<. 5  Denying Mary’s real presence - Krausmüller other hagiographical te(ts! which have been mined for information about social and political history but have not yet been analysed as e(pressions of the Byzantine worldview. 8or the positivist historian the  Life  of &onstantine ma/es disappointing reading4;ydFn complains that the hagiographer Coften suppresses information of the /ind weshould appreciate#. 15  dmittedly ;ydFn does ma/e an attempt to loo/ at the te(t in itsown right. %n particular he notes that the author Ce(cels in D the description of colourful visions and dreams.# 1+  Aet this seemingly positive remar/ is thenimmediately followed by the conclusion that all these dreams and visions arecompletely conventional. t this point one might therefore conclude that there is little point in further study. 6owever! as is all too often the case with interpretations of hagiographical te(ts! ;ydFn#s verdict is based on a superficial reading of the te(t. %n-depth analysis of the relevant passages and comparison with their counterparts inother hagiographical te(ts reveal that the  Life  of &onstantine deviates radically fromthe contemporary consensus.his is nowhere more obvious than in an episode where &onstantine is savedfrom a murderous attac/ of his former co-religionists through an apparition of theVirgin Mary4 When those who had decided to commit the murder of the 3ust man hadalready gathered together in some e(tremely hidden place that through itsremoteness was suitable for such an act K it was an oratory of the God-Mother  K and when they were dragging him by force and were about to underta/e thefoul deed! there appeared a phantom of a woman that uttered a sharp andherald-li/e cry and *sc. said that she herself was witness to the deed and wasaware of the foul murder that was being perpetrated. When those terriblerational beasts saw her! they 2uic/ly released the saint! because they werealready caught out through her voice! and in no time they made themselvesinvisible from that place. When the blessed one had thus been saved from thedanger Lhe was liberated from the placeL. nd when he had been releasedfrom the evil! he loo/ed around to see the woman who had become the causefor his salvation. 6owever! it was not a woman but a divine grace that hadshaped itself into appearance of the God-Mother    who was indeed also 15 ;  A@H$ ! &prus at the *ime of the ondominium ! p. 1<. 1+ ;  A@H$ ! &prus at the *ime of the ondominium ! p. 1<. +  Denying Mary’s real presence - Krausmüller honoured in the sacred oratory. herefore he recognised the help from Godand he gave than/s for the rescue to God and to his mother according to theflesh. 19  8rom the story it is evident that the saint owed his rescue to the intervention of awoman who happened to be nearby. he hagiographer first informs his audience thatit was not a real woman but rather a phantom! a claim that is borne out by her suddendisappearance. %n a second step he corrects this first interpretation and identifies the phantom with the Virgin Mary! evidently because the attac/ too/ place in a sanctuarydedicated to her. t the same time! however! he ma/es it clear that it was not Maryherself who achieved the saint#s rescue but rather an anonymous Cdivine grace# thattoo/ on her appearance. he only indication that Mary may be involved at all is thefact that the saint than/s her for his rescue but even this limited role is played down inthe authorial comments that frame the narrative. Before he gives his account of theattempted murder the hagiographer avers that the attac/ amounted to martyrdom!Ceven if the saint escaped the impending danger through the providence   of the onewho always protects the souls of his servants.# 1=   direct address to the audience!Cbehold how great was the divine care that he en3oyed here! too#! then introduces thenarrative of the murderous attempt. 1>  nd the story concludes with the formula4 Chusthe power of the all-holy 7pirit graced him and such an une(pected rescue he attained 19  Life of onstantine ! c. =1! ed. @ '0'6A' ! pp. >958->9+4 θροισθε󱽷ντων γαὴρ τν δη τοὴν ἀ ῶ ἤ φο󱽷νον ργα󱽷σασθαι το δικαι󱽷ου σκεψαμε󱽷νων ες ν ν τινι το󱽷π λι󱽷αν ποκρυ󱽷φ καιὴ ἐ ῦ ἰ ἓ ἔ ῳ ἀ ῳ το τοιοδε δρα󱽷ματος τ μονω󱽷σει πιτηδει󱽷 - δεὴ ν εκτη󱽷ριος οκος τς θεομη󱽷τορος - ῦ ῦ ῇ ἐ ῳ ὁ ἦ ὐ ἶ ῆ λκο󱽷ντων τε βι󱽷 καιὴ μελλο󱽷ντων γχειρεν το μια󱽷σματος, πιφαι󱽷νεται φα󱽷σμα ἑ ᾳ ἐ ῖ ῦ ἐ γυναικοὴς τορο󱽷ν τι βοω󱽷σης καιὴ κηρυ󱽷κιον καιὴ ς ατηὴ μα󱽷ρτυς εη τν πραττομε󱽷νων, ὡ ὐ ἴ ῶ γινω󱽷σκουσα τηὴν μελετωμε󱽷νην μιαιφονι󱽷αν· ν θεασα󱽷μενοι ο δεινοιὴ κενοι καιὴ λογικοιὴ ἣ ἱ ἐ ῖ θρες καιὴ ς δη πεφωραμε󱽷νοι τ π κει󱽷νης φων, σι μεὴν τοὴν γιον τα󱽷χος, ν ῆ ὡ ἤ ῇ ἀ ᾽ ἐ ῇ ἐῶ ἅ ἐ καρε δεὴ ατουὴς φανι󱽷ζουσιν κεθεν· καιὴ οτω το κινδυ󱽷νου σωθειὴς μακα󱽷ριος ἀ ῖ ὑ ἀ ἐ ῖ ὕ ῦ ὁ πηλλα󱽷γη το το󱽷που· ς δ νε󱽷θη το κακο, περιεσκο󱽷πει τηὴν γυνακα δεν τις ἀ ῦ ὡ ᾽ ἀ ῦ ῦ ῖ ἰ ῖ ἥ ατ προ󱽷ξενος γε󱽷γονε τς σωτηρι󱽷ας· ν δεὴ ρα ο γυ󱽷ναιον λλαὴ χα󱽷ρις θει󱽷α ὐ ῷ ῆ ἦ ἄ ὐ ἀ σχηματισθεσα ες τηὴν τς θεομη󱽷τορος ψιν, δηὴ καιὴ καταὴ τοὴ εροὴν εκτη󱽷ριον ῖ ἰ ῆ  ἣ ἱ ὐ τιμτο· διοὴ καιὴ συνειὴς τηὴν θεο󱽷θεν πικουρι󱽷αν θε τε καιὴ τ ατο καταὴ σα󱽷ρκα μητριὴ ἐ ᾶ ἐ ῷ ῇ ὐ ῦ ταὴς σωτηρι󱽷ους πεδι󱽷δου εχαριστι󱽷ας ἀ ὐ . 1=  Life of onstantine ! c. =1! ed. @ '0'6A' ! p. >9584 μελετσι󱽷 τε κτεναι νδρα νευ󱽷θυνον ῶ ῖ ἄ ἀ θλον τα󱽷χα τοτο τς τν παρ ατο διδασκομε󱽷νων σωτηρι󱽷ας ε καιὴ προνοι󱽷 το ! ῦ ῆ ῶ ᾽ ὐ ῦ ἰ ᾳ ῦ ειὴ φυλα󱽷ττοντος ταὴς ψυχαὴς τν δου󱽷λων ατο το πηρτημε󱽷νου του󱽷του διε󱽷φυγε ἀ ῶ ὐ ῦ ῦ ἐ κινδυ󱽷νου . 1>  Life of onstantine ! c. =1! ed. @ '0'6A' ! p. >9584 ρα γα󱽷ρ μοι, σης τς θει󱽷ας πε󱽷λαυσε " " ῆ ἀ κνταθα κηδεμονι󱽷ας ἀ ῦ . 9  Denying Mary’s real presence - Krausmüller through God#s providence.# 1,  his final comment! which is the e(act counterpart of the introductory formula! reinforces the function of the episode4 it is an e(emplum of the divine protection that the saint en3oyed. %n all these comments Mary as an agent isconspicuously absent.7uch interpretation of a Marian miracle and indeed of any miracle broughtabout through the apparition of a saint is without parallel in post-%conoclastic  Lives that contain dreams or visions of identifiable individuals. 1  %n these te(ts it isinvariably ta/en for granted that the saints themselves appear and the possibility thatan anonymous divine power might impersonate them is never even considered. 1<  6owever! this does not mean that there are no parallels in Byzantine literatureat all.  few decades before the  Life  of &onstantine was written! atriarch hotius of &onstantinople! an avid reader! had made summaries of many earlier te(ts! which hethen collected in his so-called  Bibliotheca . 5  mong these te(ts was a treatise by asi(th-century &onstantinopolitan author named 'ustratius the resbyter! whichattempted to refute the view that in dreams and visions of saints it was not the saintsthemselves that appeared but rather anonymous agents! which impersonated them. 51  %n 1,  Life of onstantine ! c. =1! ed. @ '0'6A' ! p. >9+4 οτως ατοὴν το παναγι󱽷ου πνευ󱽷ματος ὕ ὐ ἡ ῦ χαρι󱽷τωσεν δυ󱽷ναμις καιὴ τοιαυ󱽷της τυχεν θεο προνοι󱽷 τς παραδο󱽷ξου σωτηρι󱽷ας ἐ ἔ ῦ ᾳ ῆ . 1 his statement is based on a survey of the  Lives  of the following saints4 )oannicius *both versions!eter of troa *both versions! nthony the Aounger! thanasia of egina! heophylact of $icomedia!'ustratius of the ugaroi! @emetrianus of &hytri! 'varestus of Eo/orobion! 'uthymius the Aounger!)oseph the 6ymnographer! heodora of 7aloni/a! 'mpress heophano! heodore of 7toudios *bothversions! $icholas of 7toudios! %gnatius the atriarch. 1< %nvariably it is stated that somebody Csees# * ρν ὁ ᾶ ! θεωρεν ῖ  a saint or saints or that a saint or saintsCappear# * φαι󱽷νεσθαι ! φι󱽷στασθαι ἐ  to somebody. %n either case the saints are simply referred to bytheir names or are characterised in such a way that identification is possible. &f. e.g.  Life   of @ustratiusof the Augaroi   *  BHG  >9=! ed. .  @JJ:0J7 -E  ';M':7 !   in  Ανα󱽻λεκτα εροσολυμιτικς ᾿ ἱ ῆ σταχυολογι󱽻ας συλλογη󱽸 νεκδο󱽻των και󱽸 σπανι󱽻ων λληνικν συγγραφν ἢ ἀ ἑ ῶ ῶ ! 9 vols.! 7t.etersburg! 1<,! reprinted Brussels! 1<>+! vol. 9! pp. +>,-+<<! esp. c. 55! p. ++! ll. 1-114 ωρα󱽷κασιν ... τοὴν γιον ἑ ἅ I c. +<! p. +<9! ll. 9-=4 ρ τοὴν σημειοφο󱽷ρον τοτον πατε󱽷ρα ὁ # ῦ I c. 91! p. +<=! ll. ,-4 πιφανειὴς ... με󱽷γας ατρο󱽷ς ... ατ ἐ ὁ ἱ ὐ ῷ I c. 9! p. +<>! ll. 1>-1,4 φαι󱽷νεται ατ ὐ ῷ ὁ σημειοφο󱽷ρος Εστρα󱽷τιος ὐ I c. =! p. +<<! l. 4 φα󱽷νη ατ σιος ἐ ὐ ῷ ὁ " I  Life of !oseph the H&mnographer  ! ed. .  @JJ:0J7 -E  ';M':7 !  8onumenta graeca et latina ad historiam Photii patriarchae pertinentia ! 5 vols.! 7t. etersburg! 1<1! vol. 5! pp. 1-19! esp. c. ,! p. ,! ll. +-=4 πε󱽷στη ... ἐ τις ατ ... κο󱽷σμιος νη󱽷ρ ὐ ῷ ἀ  *N $icholasI c. <! p. ! ll. 1-54 ρ ... νδρα τιναὴ φοβερο󱽷ν ὁ # ἄ  *NBartholomewI c. 1>! p. 1+! ll. 1+-194 καθω󱽷ς μοι φανει󱽷ς *N )osephI  Life of *heodora of Saloni.a ! ed.7. .  7&60%@'7 ! Ο βι󱽻ος τς σιομυροβλυ󱽻τιδος Θεοδω󱽻ρας τς ν Θεσσαλονι󱽻κ. Εσαγωγη󱽻, ῾ ῆ ὁ ῆ ἐ ῃ ἰ κει󱽻μενο, μετα󱽻φραση, σχο󱽻λια ! 7aloni/a! 1<<1! p. 1>! l. 54 ατ σι󱽷α πιφανεσα ὐ ῷ ἡ ὁ ἐ ῖ I p. 1,! l.114 θεωρε ... τηὴν σι󱽷αν Θεοδω󱽷ραν ῖ ὁ ! p. 1,5! l. 1=4 φθη ζωγρα󱽷φ τινι󱽷 $ ῳ . 5  6J%:7 !  Bibliotheca ! cod. 1,1! p. 11,b+9 - p. 11a51! ed. ;. 6 '$;A !  Photius2 Bibliothue !  vols.!aris! 1<=<-1<,,! vol. 5! pp. 1>=-1>>. 51  6J%:7 !  Bibliotheca ! 11,b91-11a+! ed. 6 '$;A ! p. 1>=4 καιὴ τι πιφαινο󱽷μεναι πολλος " ἐ ῖ πολλα󱽷κις καιὴ καταὴ διαφο󱽷ρους τρο󱽷πους α ψυχαιὴ αταιὴ κατ δι󱽷αν παρξιν ἱ ὐ ᾽ ἰ ὕ πιφαι󱽷νονται, λλ οχιὴ δυ󱽷ναμι󱽷ς τις θει󱽷α ες τυ󱽷πους σχηματιζομε󱽷νη τν γι󱽷ων ἐ ἀ ᾽ ὐ ἰ ῶ % =
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