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Byzantine Liturgy among the Slavs: Deciphering the Late Chapter of Byzantine Liturgical History

Nina Glibetic, Yale University, Fellow 2014–2015

During my residential fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks, I adapted and considerably expanded my doctoral dissertation for publication as a monograph. The book is dedicated to the history of the Divine Liturgy in the middle and late Byzantine periods. It presents, for the first time, the liturgiological evidence offered by the entire corpus (around eighty manuscripts) of the oldest South-Slavic eucharistic texts, which are dated to the period between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries and were copied on Mount Athos, the Balkan interior, Mount Sinai, and in Palestine. These texts are an invaluable source for tracing the history of the Byzantine liturgy at a time when the center of liturgical diffusion shifted from Constantinople to the Athonite monastic peninsula. These Slavic manuscripts and their Greek prototypes contain a series of elaborations that reveal developments in Byzantine piety, especially concerning the subject of ritual preparation: prayers for the celebrant to recite when entering the sanctuary or when vesting, rituals to prepare the eucharistic gifts before the liturgy (the prothesis rite), and a growing number of prayers before communion. The Dumbarton Oaks library collection, with its impressive holdings in Byzantine as well as Slavic studies, enabled me to situate these ritual developments within the religious trends and political circumstances characterizing the Byzantine and Slavic worlds at that time. The Dumbarton Oaks Gardens were an extraordinary source of inspiration as was the collegial dialogue with the other fellows and scholarly staff. I ended my fellowship with an advanced draft of the monograph. I also examined more comprehensively the relationship between the aforementioned ritual developments and other contemporaneous liturgical innovations, such as the appearance of multiple Byzantine purification rites connected to birth and miscarriage.