Debating the Saints' Cults in the Age of Gregory the Great

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-09-07
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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In Debating the Saints' Cults in the Age of Gregory the Great, Dal Santo argues that the Dialogues, Pope Gregory the Great's most controversial work, should be considered from the perspective of a wide-ranging debate about the saints which took place in early Byzantine society. Like other contemporary works in Greek and Syriac, Gregory's text debated the nature and plausibility of the saints' miracles and the propriety of the saints' cult. Rather than viewing the early Byzantine world as overwhelmingly pious or credulous, the book argues that many contemporaries retained the ability to question and challenge the claims of hagiographers and other promoters of the saints' miracles. From Italy to the heart of the Persian Empire at Ctesiphon, a healthy, sceptical, rationalism remained alive and well. The book's conclusion argues that doubt towards the saints reflected a current of political dissent in the late East Roman or Byzantine Empire, where patronage of Christian saints' shrines was used to sanction imperial autocracy. These far-reaching debates also re-contextualize the emergence of Islam in the Near East.

Author Biography

Matthew Dal Santo was until recently a research fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge.

Table of Contents

List of figures
Gregory the Great and the saints' cult in late antiquity
1. Gregory the Great and Eustratius of Constantinople: the Dialogues on the Miracles of the Italian Fathers as an apology for the cult of saints
2. The fourth dialogue of Gregory the Great: the early Byzantine context of a Latin disquisition on the soul
3. Contesting the saints' miracles: the witness of early Byzantine Lives and miracle collections
4. The saints' inactivity post mortem: soul sleep and the cult of saints east of the Euphrates
Debating the saints cult in the age of Gregory the Great and Muhammad
Visualizing the God-guarded empire with the Sinai Icon of the Virgin and Child
Anastasius of Sinai and Pseudo-Athanasius: Question and Answer writers

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