Course unit title Personalism in Byzantium
Name and e-mail of the lecturer

Smilen Markov

Course code 20167624
Course content

The course is addressed to students of theology, philosophy, history, sociology as well as to students, whose scientific interests are focused on the history and culture of Byzantium and South-Eastern Europe. Through methodology tested in disciplines such as history of philosophy and cultural anthropology, the students will study the genesis and the development of the concept of personality in the formative period of Byzantine culture. The debates in Trinitarian theology and Christology during the fourth and the fifth centuries, as well Emperor Justinian’s idea of a Christian empire, are interpreted in terms of the new accentuation on the status of the person. Emblematic texts of Nemesius of Emesa, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory the Theologian, Dionysius the Areopagite, Leontius of Byzantium and Maximus the Confessor will be used to demonstrate the development of the concept of “person” on the threshold between Late Antiquity and Byzantium. Being the paradigm of the ontological uniqueness of all things, Christ the Logos is the cross point of the different social, liturgical and judicial dimensions of the concept of the person. The participants will learn to recognize and analyze the kits of personal identity, valid for Byzantium, using appropriate and context-orientated criteria. The course traces different phenomena of the Christ-centered personalism not only in philosophical and theological texts, but also in judicial, physiological and political discourses, as well as in the memoir-literature of Byzantium. A specific accent is put on the model of marginal identity and its projections in the socio-political sphere. The profile of personalism in Byzantium will be compared to relevant conceptual developments in the adjacent cultures, such as the Arabic world and the Latin West. On the basis of the Byzantine experience from the Christian-Muslim relations students will assess the potential of the Byzantine personalism to supply criteria and argumentation for the different forms of interreligious and intercultural dialogue. Thus the relevance of the issue for certain developments in the philosophy of the 20th c., as well for the contemporary conceptual and socio-political debates, will be proved. The participants will work with primary texts and secondary literature in English or German.

Learning activities and teaching methods Lectures, discussions, individual and group assignments
Contact hours 15
Assessment method 30% - presence and participation; 70% a presentation on a relevant topic