A Late-Byzantine hagiographer: Philotheos Kokkinos and his Vitae of Contemporary Saints
This dissertation offers the first systematic historical contextualization and literary analysis of the five saints’ lives composed by Philotheos Kokkinos (ca. 1300–1378) for his contemporaries Nikodemos the Younger, Sabas the Younger, Isidore Boucheir, Germanos Maroules, and Gregory Palamas. Notwithstanding Kokkinos’ prominent role in the political and ecclesiastical scene of fourteenth-century Byzantium, as well as the size and significance of his hagiographic oeuvre, both the hagiographer and his saints’ lives have received surprisingly little scholarly attention. My dissertation fills this gap and shows Kokkinos as a gifted hagiographer who played a leading role, both through his ecclesiastical authority and hagiographic discourse, in orchestrating the societal breakthrough of hesychast theology that has remained at the core of Christian Orthodoxy up to this day. The dissertation is structured in three parts. The first, Philotheos Kokkinos and His OEuvre, offers an extensive biographical portrait of Kokkinos, introduces his literary oeuvre, and discusses its manuscript tradition. A thorough palaeographical investigation of fourteenth-century codices carrying his writings reveals Kokkinos’ active involvement in the process of copying, reviewing, and publishing his own works. This section includes an analysis of the “author’s edition” manuscript Marcianus graecus 582, and presents its unusual fate. Moreover, Part I establishes the chronology of Kokkinos’ vitae of contemporary saints and offers biographical sketches of his heroes, highlighting their relationship to their hagiographer. The second part, Narratological Analysis of Kokkinos’ Vitae of Contemporary Saints, constitutes the first comprehensive analysis of Kokkinos’ narrative technique. It first discusses the types of hagiographic composition (‘hagiographic genre’) Kokkinos employed for his saints’ lives (hypomnema, bios kai politeia, and logos), and then it offers a detailed investigation that sheds light on the organization of the narrative in Kokkinos’ vitae and his use of specific narrative devices. This includes a discussion of hesychastic elements couched in the narrative. Part II concludes with considerations on Kokkinos’ style and intended audience. The third part, Saints and Society, begins with a detailed quantitative and qualitative analysis of the miracle accounts Kokkinos wove in his saints’ lives. This considers the miracle typology, types of afflictions, methods of healing, and the demographic characteristics of the beneficiaries (such as age, gender, and social status), revealing that Kokkinos shows a predilection for including miracles for members of the aristocracy. Second, it presents Kokkinos’ view on the relationship between the imperial office and ecclesiastical authority by analysing how he portrays the emperor(s) in his vitae. Moreover, this part addresses the saints’ encounters with the “other” (Muslims and Latins), revealing Kokkinos’ nuanced understanding of the threats and opportunities raised by these interactions. Finally, it makes the claim that through his saints’ lives Kokkinos offers models of identification and refuge in the troubled social and political context of fourteenth-century Byzantium, promoting a spiritual revival of society. As my dissertation shows, Kokkinos’ vitae of contemporary saints sought to shape and were shaped by the political and theological disputes of fourteenth-century Byzantium, especially those surrounding hesychasm. Their analysis offers insights into the thought-world of their author and sheds more light on the late-Byzantine religious and cultural context of their production. The dissertation is equipped with six technical appendices presenting the chronology of Kokkinos’ life and works, the narrative structure of his vitae of contemporary saints, a critical edition of the preface of his hitherto unedited Logos on All Saints (BHG 1617g), a transcription of two hitherto unedited prayers Kokkinos addressed to the emperors, the content of Marc. gr. 582 and Kokkinos’ autograph interventions, and manuscript plates.