Yōḥannān Bar Zō‘bī was an East-Syriac author of the late 12 th–early 13th c. His Explanation of the Mysteries is a metrical commentary on the liturgy. It is preceded by a prologue narrating the biblical history from the beginning of creation to the redemptive mission of Christ, and followed by a doctrinal part as well as a conclusion that describes symbolism of the church. The poem is presented in a critical edition which is based on nine manuscripts, including the oldest known one.
Old Rusian homily entitled “Dispute Against Latins” and ascribed to metropolitan George of Kiev represents a tradition of polemic sermons against Western Christianity based on the writings of patriarchs Photios and Michael Cerularius, which appeared in the very time of Great Schism. In most part the “Dispute…” repeats the contents of byzantine polemic writings. However several additions were made taking into consideration the development of Church service and discipline in the 12th-13th centuries. Making of such an additions demonstrates that Rusian bookmen preserved a living interest in cultural differences between Eastern and Western Christianity and were capable of noting such differences in details. Such an information could be obtained due to personal contacts with Catholics or travels to Western Europe which was not uncommon for Rusians of the pre-Mongol time.
The article puts forward the suggestion that the mysterious last will of Metropolitan Constantine I of Kiev, in which he ordered that a² er his death his body should be torn to pieces by dogs instead of receiving a proper burial, was inspired by a very specifi c literary text. This text is still used in the Orthodox Christian tradition; it is known as the hymnographical kanon “At the Parting of the Soul from the Body.” While nowadays this kanon is used in the course of an ordinary liturgical rite, in the 12th century, when it fi rst appeared, it was used among some Byzantine in tel lectual and ascetic circles as a particular element of personal piety. The 12th cen tury is exactly the epoch of Constantine's activities, and the descrip tion of а fune ral procedure given by this kanon is very close to the last will of Constantine. The kanon “At the Parting of the Soul from the Body” has close ties to another hymn of roughly the same epoch—the “Penitential” kanon wri¯ en a² er the 5th chap ter of the “Ladder” of John Climacus. Both kanons conceal a didactic story under the structure of a hymnographic pa¯ ern. What is more important, both are from the very beginning intertwined with a distinct illustrative program: each monostrophe is accompanied by a specifi c picture, which discloses the contents of the text. These “comics-like” stories have no parallel among other Byzantine kanons. Finally, both kanons witness the growth of the infl uence of Palestinian and, more gene rally, Eastern ascetic traditions on the monastic practices of Constan tinople and its surrounding regions. This infl uence was associated, most of all, with the Everge tian movement, with its strict disciplinary and fasting rules, etc. Metropolitan Constantine, who was an outstanding representative of the Byzantine intellectual elite of those times, should have been acquainted—at the very least!— with this movement. Moreover, the confl icts of the bishops in his circle with the Russian princes concerning the fasting discipline suggest that Constantine was trying to introduce the new Evergetian ascetic standards among the Russians. Thus, the literal adherence to the provisions of the kanon “At the Parting of the Soul from the Body” at the funeral of Metropolitan Constantine Ι should be in terpreted as a sign of his full confi dence in his ideals.
The article is dedicated to the history and typology of one of the Byzantine liturgical books.
The review-article contains critical remarks and corrections for the Description of the Office Menaia in the «Catalogue of Greek Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Collections of the United States of America»