Saturday, 11 April 2015

Richard Price: Florilegia and Dramatic Fiction at the Ecumenical Councils'

The ecumenical councils after Chalcedon, from Constantinople II (553) till Nicaea II (787), were increasingly dominated by the use of florilegia of suitable excerpts from the church fathers. These florilegia were necessarily produced in advance, either of the council as a whole, or of the particular session at which they were read out. The problem arose as to how such pre-prepared documents could be made to appear a genuine part of conciliar proceedings, and how they could receive authoritative confirmation from a meeting of bishops. The solution found was to concoct a setting in which the bishops or their assistants examined and tested the documents or the bishops themselves assembled them. The resulting conciliar acts can look convincing at first glance, but analysis of the contents of the floriiegia shows up the fictional character of episcopal involvement.

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