Personal Versus Established Religion: Revision and Stagnation in Eastern Christian Thought and Praxis [5th-8th Centuries]

[RG #119] Personal and Institutional Religion: Christian Thought and Practice from the Fifth to the Eighth Century

September 1, 2009 - August 31, 2010


Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Lorenzo Perrone (University of Bologna)

Late Antiquity has traditionally been regarded by scholarly research as a period of transition from the Greco-Roman civilization to Byzantium and Islam on the one hand, and to medieval western culture on the other. Indeed, from the 5th to the 8th century we can observe a deep transformation from the point of view of the political and religious systems, and more generally of the overall cultural framework. In spite of the rejection of the negative category of the "decline and fall", which has been promoted by eminent scholars such as Henri-Irénée Marrou and Peter Brown, these changes often continue to lead to a critical appreciation of religious life in Late Antiquity. When compared to the previous epoch, the picture presented by this period seems to also imply a negative phase of "revision" and "stagnation", as demonstrated more specifically, among other aspects, by the evolution of "personal" and "institutional" religion. This perception was the starting point of our research group.