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The Saints’ Lives of Philotheos Kokkinos in Late Byzantium

Mihail Mitrea, University of Edinburgh, Junior Fellow 2016–2017

Investigating the role and societal impact of hagiographical discourse in fourteenth-century Byzantine politics and theology, my project offers the first systematic historical contextualization and literary and theological analysis of Philotheos Kokkinos’s (ca. 1300–1378) vitae of contemporaneous saints: Nikodemos the Younger, Sabas the Younger, Germanos Maroules, Isidore Boucheir, and Gregory Palamas. These saints’ lives sought to shape and were shaped by the political and theological disputes of fourteenth-century Byzantium, especially those surrounding hesychasm. I show that Kokkinos was a gifted hagiographer and theologian who played a leading role in orchestrating the societal breakthrough of hesychasm through both his ecclesiastical authority and literary activity, especially his lives of contemporaneous hesychast saints. I also completed the first draft of a forthcoming article—tentatively entitled “Gendered Ventriloquism in Late Byzantium: A Woman Writer or Character Sketch in a Letter of Maximos Neamonites?”—in which I contextualize and analyze a hitherto unedited letter transmitted in the short letter collection of the Constantinopolitan schoolmaster Maximos Neamonites. I also started designing an online course for Greek paleography.