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There are saints in Orthodox Christian culture who overturn the conventional concept of sainthood. Their conduct may be unruly and salacious, they may blaspheme and even kill - yet, mysteriously, those around them treat them with even more reverence. Such saints are called 'holy fools'. In this pioneering study Sergey A. Ivanov examines the phenomenon of holy foolery from a cultural standpoint. He identifies its prerequisites and its development in religious thought, and traces the emergence of the first hagiographic texts describing these paradoxical saints. He describes the beginnings of holy foolery in Egyptian monasteries of the fifth century, followed by its high point in the cities of Byzantium, with an eventual decline in the twelfth to fourteenth centuries. He also compares the important Russian tradition of holy fools, which in some form has survived to this day.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780199272518
ISBN-10: 0199272514
Format: Hardback
(223mm x 146mm x 32mm)
Pages: 496
Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: 6-Apr-2006
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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Author Biography - Sergey A. Ivanov

Sergey A. Ivanov is Senior Research Associate, Institute of Slavic and Balkan Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences.