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Margins and MetropolisAuthority across the Byzantine Empire$
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Judith Herrin

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691153018

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691153018.001.0001

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Book Burning as Purification in Early Byzantium

Book Burning as Purification in Early Byzantium

(p.335) 16 Book Burning as Purification in Early Byzantium
Margins and Metropolis

Judith Herrin

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines book burning as a form of purification, designed to protect readers and listeners from inaccurate or downright misleading material, during the early Byzantine period. Throughout the fourth and fifth centuries, when Christianity was struggling to define its theology more closely, every official condemnation was followed by ritual destruction. Decades after the decree of AD 528 that barred pagans from state office, Justinian ordered a persecution of surviving Hellenes, accompanied by the burning of pagan books, pictures, and statues. In the mid-sixth century, active persecution in Constantinople probably destroyed many ancient texts. The chapter considers two canons, issued by the Council in Trullo in AD 692, that shed light on book burning and destruction, purification, and the status of written texts in early Byzantium.

Keywords:   book burning, purification, Christianity, condemnation, persecution, Constantinople, ancient texts, Council in Trullo, book destruction, Byzantium

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