Constantinople in Byzantine Apocalyptic Thought – by András Kraft

Download PDF here:  “Constantinople in Byzantine Apocalyptic Thought.” Annual of Medieval Studies at CEU 18 (2012): 25–36



 András Kraft 

According to canonical Scripture the culmination of Christian salvation history entails the eventual destruction of the earthly realm. The Byzantine Empire,however, promoted the image of invincible and sustaining rulership. Hence, every Byzantine faced the intrinsic tension between Christian eschatological thought and imperial ideology. The only way to resolve this tension was by proposing that these notions, in fact, converge.

If the Byzantine Empire, in general, and Constantinople, in particular, were to play an eminent role in the last events, the none could argue that this temporal and topographical proximity to the divine realm meant that the Empire enjoyed a privileged position in the divine providential scheme. Moreover, such proximity would emphasize the orderly transfer into the heavenly dominion and would thus be capable of mollifying anxieties arising from the anticipated apocalyptic rupture.

In what follows, I investigate the increasingly important role that Constantinople came to play in this scheme of convergence. The source material surveyed here consists primarily of the Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius various apocalyptic narratives from the Visions of Daniel, the Andreas Salos Apcalypse and patriographic writings.

In the Byzantine apocalyptic tradition the most formative extra-canonical narrative was the Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius (henceforth Apocalypse), which had tremendous impact throughout the Middle Ages and beyond.

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