Tsibranska–Kostova (2014 Congress)

Mariana Tsibranska–Kostova
(Institute for Bulgarian Language, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences)
“Anti-Heretical Texts in Fourteenth-Century Bulgarian Compilations of Canon Law”

Abstract of Paper Intended to be Presented at the 49th International Congress on Medieval Studies (Kalamazoo, May 2014)
Session on “A Neglected Empire:  Bulgaria between the Late Twelfth and Late Fourteenth Centuries”
Part II:  “Engaging in Empire, From Center to Periphery and Beyond”
Co-sponsored by the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence and the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Florida
Organized by Mildred Budny (Research Group on Manuscript Evidence) and Florin Curta (University of Florida)
2014 Congress Accomplished

[First posted on our first website on 20 March 2014, with updates]

[Please note: Prof. Tsibranska–Kostova was unable to travel to the Congress to present her paper. We post the Abstract as a description of the subject and scope of her contribution to the discourse in our two sessions (Parts I and II) on this theme.]

It is well known that the major anti-heretical written source from the Second Bulgarian Empire is King Boril’s Synodicon, compiled in service of the Synod against the Bogomils, which convened in Tărnovo in 1211.  However, the following century is likewise characterized by anti-heretical treatises in various types of manuscripts which shaped the image of the so-called Second Golden Age of Bulgarian literature and culture.  The reign of John Alexander (1331-1371) is renowned as the richest period of assembling miscellanies or more coherent compilations of texts — encyclopedic, ascetic, and monastic, for example for individual reading by the royal family and at court.

An important category among these many varied forms of compilations is the manuscripts with legal contents, which range from functional guides to canon law to complex compilations of material from diverse sources.  These texts deserve to be investigated not only as a whole, but also as principal witnesses for how the mechanism of regulation in the tripartite relationship of Law–Society–Culture functioned in practice.  Recent discoveries and the most current state of the catalogued database of Slavonic manuscripts in Bulgarian repositories and Russian libraries have demonstrated the undisputable role of the Middle Bulgarian written tradition in transmitting the official position against every or any deviation from Orthodoxy in three main areas:

1. Traditional so-called Christological heresies;

2. The heterodox dualist doctrines of Manicheans, Massalians, and Paulicians, including the Bogomils; and

3. The Latins.

For concision within time-constraints, my paper shall focus on the following manuscripts:

1. Moscow, GIM (State Historical Museum / Gosudarstvenny istoricheskiy muzyey), Cod. Hlud 76, dated to 1330, and believed, according to linguistic characteristics to have been produced in a scriptorium connected with the capital Tărnovo;

2. Saint Petersburg, Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Jacimirskij Collection, Cod. Slav. 13.3.17, the so-called miscellany from Lovech copied by the monk Pachomius, whose colophon specifies that the manuscript was written during the reign of Despot John Alexander and his son Michael-Assen — that is, before 1331; and

3. Sofia, Bulgarian Patriarchy, Church-Historical and Archive Institute, Manuscript 1160, dating from the late fourteenth century.

All these manuscripts contain similar textual cores of anti-heretical texts, which enable us to formulate the following research aims and objectives:

1. To reveal the significance and importance of canon law manuscripts as first-hand witnesses to how the Orthodox identity has been preserved by Church and civil authorities;

2. To highlight the role of Bulgarian monastic circles around Tărnovo in the transmission of texts with anti-heretical tendencies and their contacts with Mount Athos;

3. To examine some characteristics of the Slavonic and specifically Bulgarian reception of the Byzantine juridical models; the specific historical context which engendered, and continues to engender the renewal, and indeed the rise of legal thought among Bulgarians and Serbs.  This process of renewal began with Saint Sava’s work on the Slavonic Kormcaja in 1219–1220 and continued successfully in fourteenth-century Bulgarian manuscript production.