BASEES Annual Conference 2022

The authority of books in Early Rus canonical literature

Fri8  Apr03:20pm(20 mins)
Games Room


Vera Gagarina


My research is dedicated to the concept of 'authority' in canonical literature. For what reasons, and through which practices, was this concept articulated by medieval authors, and additionally how were these notions reflected through canonical texts?

In this paper, I am analysing what authority books held within broader canonical sources. In what cases did both the authors of texts and the hierarchs whom these authors interrogated, refer to the authority of books? What role did books play in the context of authority, and were there more and less respected and powerful authors or books in 11-13th century Rus'?

I am also investigating the evolution of the common Christian concept of prohibited books within the Rus’ context. This concept, in Byzantium, has existed for centuries, whereas the first list of prohibited books of Rus’ origin only appeared in the 14th century. In this paper I am considering how the concept was defined and articulated in the period preceding this first list (the 11-13th centuries), and how it correlated with rules which had been translated from Byzantine texts. How did Rus’ authors of this period define what constituted an authoritative book, and what did not? Which Byzantine rules concerning books were circulating in Rus’ Nomocanons, and to what extend did Rus’ authors adhere to, or deviate from, these rules?