Saturday, February 28, 2015

Links on Byzantine History

Some links on the fascinating history of the Byzantine empire, the Eastern Roman empire which survived until 1453:
(1) Robin Pierson, The History of Byzantium

The History of Byzantium

(2) Lars Brownworth, 12 Byzantine Rulers, The History of The Byzantine Empire

(3) The Early Middle Ages, 284–1000 with Paul Freedman

(4) BBC In Our Time discussion of the Byzantine Empire

(5) Byzantium: Byzantine Studies on the Internet

(6) Talessman’s Atlas. World History Maps

(7) World History Atlas & Timelines since 3000 BC.

(8) Maps

(9) Karl Spruner and Theodor Menke, Hand-Atlas für die Geschichte des Mittelalters und die neueren Zeit (3rd edn.), 1880.

(10) Shepherd, William R. 1923. Shepherd’s Historical Atlas (3rd edn.).
In addition, some standard books on Byzantine history:
Rosser, John H. 2012. Historical Dictionary of Byzantium. Scarecrow Press, Lanham, Md.

Kazhdan, Alexander P. 1991. The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium (3 vols.). Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford.

Haldon, John F. 2010. The Palgrave Atlas of Byzantine History. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.

Norwich, John Julius. 1990. Byzantium. The Early Centuries (vol. 1). Penguin, London.

Norwich, John Julius. 1993. Byzantium: The Apogee (vol. 2). Penguin, London.

Norwich, John Julius. 1995. Byzantium: The Decline and Fall (vol. 3). Viking, London.

Treadgold, Warren. 1997. A History of the Byzantine State and Society. Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif.

Mango, Cyril. 2002. The Oxford History of Byzantium. Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York.

Shepard, Jonathan. 2008. The Cambridge History of the Byzantine Empire. c. 500–1492. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Gregory, Timothy E. 2010. A History of Byzantium (2nd edn.). Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, UK and Malden, MA.

Ostrogorsky, George. 1969. History of the Byzantine State (3rd rev. edn.; trans. Joan Hussey). Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, N.J. 624 p. [Superceded by Treadgold 1997]

Brubaker, Leslie and John Haldon. 2011. Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era c. 680-850: A History. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 918 p.

Treadgold, Warren. 1988. The Byzantine Revival, 780–842. Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif. 455 p.


  1. Hello LK.

    I hope all is well.

    4-5 years later, I keep coming back to some of your thoughts posted on this blog, especially since they encouraged me to look into the debates of Richard Carrier and William Lane Craig and many others. It is a whole world to discover here. I am surprised even believing Christians and Muslims sometimes challenge strong assumptions of their faith, as with Reza Aslan who said that Jesús was not born of virgin birth.

    I was hoping you could one day give your thoughts on Richard Carrier's ideas of Euhemerization - where stories that take place on a divine or a celestial realm are transferred to a more earthly setting. It's completely unconvincing and yet Carrier does a lot of scholarly work to back himself up on this idea. Do you think Euhemerization is common and could explain mythical stories from the world's religons?

    1. Hello Prateek,

      To be perfectly honest, I do not think Carrier properly understands the definition of "Euhemerism":

      "Euhemerism is an approach to the interpretation of mythology in which mythological accounts are presumed to have originated from real historical events or personages. Euhemerism supposes that historical accounts become myths as they are exaggerated in the retelling, accumulating elaborations and alterations that reflect cultural mores. It was named for the Greek mythographer Euhemerus."

      But that is the precise opposite of Carrier's Jesus mythicism, where the celestial/mythical Christ was historicised and given a human history on earth.

      Personally, I do not find Carrier's Jesus mythicism convincing, and have explained why here:

      E.g., Phil 2.6–8:

      “…. Christ Jesus who, being in the form of God did not deem it a prize to be equal with God, but he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave born in the form of men, and having appeared (or having been found) in shape as a man
      he humbled himself
      , becoming obedient until death
      and death on a cross.” (Phil 2.6–8).

      He appeared as a "man" according to Philippians. Very clear. Not as a celestial figure in the lower heavens in the flesh, as Carrier argues.

      Also, why crucifixion as his manner of death? It makes no sense on Carrier's view: this was an earthy punishment of the Romans for sedition.

      At any rate, if you want a good book on the historical origins of Christianity I recommend this:

      Goulder, M. D. 1995. St. Paul versus St. Peter: A Tale of Two Missions. Westminster/John Knox Press, Louisville, KY.

      Michael Goulder was a genius, in my view.

      This book has solved the origins of Christianity, and is simply a development of the "Two Missions Hypothesis" of F. C. Baur (who already had a main details right in the 19th century).

      It only gets a few things wrong: namely, it fails to understand that Paul and the earliest Christians did not believe in the flesh and blood resurrection of Jesus, but understood Jesus' resurrection as a direct exaltation to heaven in a "pneumatic body" (or soma pneumatikos in the Greek).

    2. Also, to answer your question have human beings been deified and worshiped as gods? (the proper definition of Euhemerism).

      I would say yes. Some ancient mythical Greek gods and heroes may well have been real people from the Bronze Age.

  2. Yes, but by the *incorrect* definition of Euhemerism as per Carrier, does it happen that a godlike being gets reinvented as a historical human figure?

    1. Yes, I am sure you can find examples. I think Carrier gives some here:

      But that still doesn't provide good evidence for his Jesus mythicism because his arguments for it are flawed.