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Orthodox Constructions of the West$
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George E. Demacopoulos and Aristotle Papanikolaou

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823251926

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823251926.001.0001

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Byzantines, Armenians, and Latins: Unleavened Bread and Heresy in the Tenth Century

Byzantines, Armenians, and Latins: Unleavened Bread and Heresy in the Tenth Century

(p.45) Byzantines, Armenians, and Latins: Unleavened Bread and Heresy in the Tenth Century
Orthodox Constructions of the West

Tia Kolbaba

Fordham University Press

Byzantine reactions to Latin Christianity in the tenth century were shaped by tenth-century imperial advances on the eastern frontier, and especially by the incorporation of Armenians into the empire. Some Byzantines accused the Armenians of Judaizing because of their use of unleavened bread (azymes) in the Eucharist. This imagined link between Jews and heresy allowed centuries of heresiology (the description and cataloguing of heresy) to be exploited, as well, placing Armenians within quasi-genealogical tables of heretics. Threatened by imperial tolerance of Armenian Christians, especially under Nikephoros II Phokas (963-969) and Basil II (976-1025), Byzantine churchmen redoubled their efforts to demonize Armenians. This anti-Armenian heresiological reasoning is crucial for understanding the centrality of anti-azyme arguments in eleventh-century attacks on the Latin church. More generally, the body of heresiology that equates an ethnic group with heresy exemplifies a Byzantine conflation of religious and ethnic identity and is crucial to understanding Byzantine self-definition.

Keywords:   Azymes, Unleavened bread, Armenian, Judaize, Heresy, Heresiology, Ethnic identity, Byzantine self-definition, Tenth century, Nikephoros II Phokas (963-969), Basil II (976-1025)

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