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BOOK REVIEWS Medieval Holy Women ofByzantium:Ten Saints'Lives in English Translation. Edited by Alice-MaryTalbot. [Byzantine Saints' Lives in Translation,Vol. 1.] (Washington , D.C: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. 1996. Pp. xxvii, 351. $30.00 cloth, $18.50 paperback.) "Only men are caUed to compete in secular contests and prove their bodily strength.The arena of virtue, however, is open to women no less than to men, and God the prize-giver generously grants the rewards and victory crowns to both sexes equally." So declares the anonymous author of the Life of Mary of Vizye, one of ten lives of holy Byzantine women included in this first volume in a series of English-language translations of hagiographie sources planned by Dumbarton Oaks (two others are currently in production).This useful collection brings together virtually all the surviving lives of the small number of women venerated as saints in the medieval Byzantine Church. The ten lives have been ably translated by nine contributors and organized by the editor into five thematic categories: nuns disguised as monks,female solitaries , cenobitic nuns, pious housewives, and a saintly empress. Each translation includes a bibliography with information on the edition used for the translation , related texts, other editions and translations, and relevant secondary Uterature .Although printed editions of the original Greek texts of all of these works have been available, in some cases for more than one hundred years,"available" does not mean "used," as the scant secondary literature on these works indicates . The evident value of these works, both for the history of spirituaUty and for other historical concerns, fully justifies the careful work expended to produce this volume. A brief review permits mention of only a few subjects on which the lives shed considerable light. The Life of the transvestite Mary/Marinos, translated by Nicholas Constas, is informative on the raising ofinfants in monasteries . Spousal abuse is a grim feature ofthe Lives ofMatrona ofPerge, translated by Jeffrey Featherstone, Mary ofVizye,translated byAngeliki Laiou, andThomais of Lesbos, translated by Paul Halsall. In addition to its titillative appeal as an account of a reformed harlot, the Life of Mary of Egypt, translated by Maria Kouli, 73 74BOOK REVIEWS contains what appear to be embedded fragments of a Syro-Palestinian monastic typikon (rule). The Life ofTheoktiste of Lesbos, by Angela Hero, contains the only surviving description by a Byzantine author of the Church of the Hundred Gates on Paros, an early Christian basilica rebuilt by Justinian. The Lives of Athanasia of Aegina, translated by Lee Sherry, Theodora of Thessalonike, translated by Alice-Mary Talbot, and the aforementioned Matrona of Perge demonstrate that in Byzantium marriage (or even bearing children) was not an absolute bar to achieving sanctity. Only in the Life ofThomais of Lesbos, however , is a marriage (of the saint's parents) portrayed in a favorable Ught rather than as a burden of or obstruction to sainthood. The Lives of Elisabeth theWonderworker, translated byValerie Karras, and the aforementioned Theodora ofThessalonike are particularly instructive on how family connections assured preferential admissions to private nunneries and succession to their leadership.The Life ofTheodora ofArta, a thirteenth-century empress, translated by Alice-MaryTalbot, is a rare example of a female saint in late Byzantine times, one of just four in some 450 years. The volume is concluded with a general index and separate indices ofpeople and places and of notable Greek words. John Thomas San Francisco, California Medieval Liturgy. A Book ofEssays. Edited by Lizette Larson-Miller. [Garland Medieval Casebooks,Volume 18; Garland Reference Library of the Humanities , Volume 1884.] (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. 1997. Pp. xviii, 314.) This collection of essays is a study of the history of rites, of their practice in relation to historical context, of treatises on ritual, and of ritual exegesis. With some exceptions, medieval means Merovingian and CaroUngian Gaul, since this is the major orientation of the book. Some ofthe essays are quite specific,with a focus on a particular writer or ritual . Such are the essays ofJan Michael Joncas on Hugh ofAmiens on order and ordination, of Susan A. Rabe on CaroUngian architecture, of Michael S. Driscoll on penitential practices in transition, and of Paul A. Jacobson...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 73-74
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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