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The Liturgical Past in Byzantium and Early Rus
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Book description

The chroniclers of medieval Rus were monks, who celebrated the divine services of the Byzantine church throughout every day. This study is the first to analyze how these rituals shaped their writing of the Rus Primary Chronicle, the first written history of the East Slavs. During the eleventh century, chroniclers in Kiev learned about the conversion of the Roman Empire by celebrating a series of distinctively Byzantine liturgical feasts. When the services concluded, and the clerics sought to compose a native history for their own people, they instinctively drew on the sacred stories that they sang at church. The result was a myth of Christian origins for Rus - a myth promulgated even today by the Russian government - which reproduced the Christian origins myth of the Byzantine Empire. The book uncovers this ritual subtext and reconstructs the intricate web of liturgical narratives that underlie this foundational text of pre-modern Slavic civilization.


‘It is hard to over-emphasize just what a tour de force this is.’

Nadieszda Kizenko Source: The Russian Review

‘… Sean Griffin’s excellent new study, The Liturgical Past in Byzantium and Early Rus, reveals just how complex, vital, revolutionary, and central this particular event - the Christianization of the Eastern Slavic peoples - was to the self-understanding and self-representation of Kiev’s ruling elite.’

Patrick Lally Michelson Source: Slavic Review

‘The focus of Sean Griffin’s book is a medieval chronicle and its sources. However, the subject resonates beyond its time.’

Simon Franklin Source: Los Angeles Review of Books

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  • Introduction
    pp 1-14


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