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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best intro to the study of holy fools, 22 Jun. 2008
Mr. A. J. Thomas "Andy" (Norway) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Holy Fools in Byzantium and Beyond (Oxford Studies in Byzantium) (Hardcover)
This book is quite simply the best introduction to the study of holy fools. It takes you from the first stories that pop up in the Eastern Mediterranean of late antiquity, gives you some philosophico-religious background, and takes you right up to the present phenomena in the Orthodox churches, as well as setting you up to find out more about parallels in other religions.

Holy fools were basically monks that hid their holiness by pretending to be mad, but the tradition of course mutates through time. Probably the most important transformation takes place between Symeon (mid 6th century) and Andrew (eighth or eleventh century?!). Here the holy fool loses a lot of monastic features, is more readily identifiable, takes disciples, and begins to speak prophetically and apocalyptically. Probably the book's main weakness is its passing over this transition in silence, and the (consequent) vague definition of what qualifies as a holy fool.

But overall, extremely well researched, with in depth knowledge of ancient theology and philosophy as well as mediaeval and modern society. It's also a good read, and that more than makes up for minor oversights as regards approach and method.
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Holy Fools in Byzantium and Beyond (Oxford Studies in Byzantium)
Holy Fools in Byzantium and Beyond (Oxford Studies in Byzantium) by Sergey A. Ivanov (Hardcover - 6 April 2006)
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