Review: Michael T. G. Humphreys, Law, Power, and Imperial Ideology in the Iconoclast Era, c. 680-850, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015

Review: Michael T. G. Humphreys, Law, Power, and Imperial Ideology in the Iconoclast Era, c. 680-850, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015
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  «MEG» 16, 2016 475 Schede e segnalazioni bibliografiche piri, letterari e documentari, greci e latini; i rima-nenti sei capitoli sono dedicati alla numismatica(G. Rinaldi), all ’ epigrafia (G. Liccardo), all ’ ar-cheologia (A. Giudice), alla topografia (M. Amo-dio), alle arti figurative (C. Sanmorì), alle risul-tanze archeologiche che si possono mettere in re-lazione con le narrazioni degli  Acta martyrum  (A.Carfora). La bibliografia di riferimento, unica, afine volume, occupa le pp. 203-230. [L. S.] Michael T. G. Humphreys,  Law, Power, and Im- perial Ideology in the Iconoclast Era, c. 680-850 , Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015 (OxfordStudies in Byzantium) ,  pp. xxiv +  312  + 3 tavv . [ISBN 9780198701576]There is an emerging trend in Anglophonehistorical studies of rediscovering the value of Greek canon law and Byzantine law as historicalsources. Humphreys ’  study is a part of this trend.He himself notes in the introduction that histori-ans of Byzantium have neglected to use legalsources in recent research (this claim should per-haps be qualified to Anglophone historians ). H .  sets out to study law as a vehicle of ideologyduring the iconoclast era (c. 680 -850).  The pri-mary legal sources chosen for study (chapters 1- 5) are the canons of the Council in Trullo, the Ecloga , the Appendices to the  Ecloga  (simplycalled  Appendix Eclogae  in the singular by theeditors of the critical edition), the  Nomos Mo-saikos , the  Nomos Rhodion Nautikos , and the Nomos Georgikos .  It should be noted that the  Appendix Eclogae , the  Nomos Mosaikos , the Nomos Nautikos , and the  Nomos Georgikos  arenotoriously hard to date although they are oftenassociated with the  Ecloga  in the manuscript tra-dition .  In chapter 6, H. also sets out to analyzethe reaction to the previous legal material by Em-press Irene, Emperor Leo V, and the Macedo-nians. The study ends with a general conclusionon law as a vehicle of ideology during the periodin question . H. follows the general opinion of recent scholar-ship that the period in question should not pri-marily be approached through the lens of histori-cal theology by focusing on iconoclasm as thedefining factor of the era ,  but should rather beapproached from the perspective of its politicalcontext (i.e., the rise of Islam and the Arabicconquests). Iconoclasm is from this perspectiveviewed as an epiphenomenon of the political sit-uation.H. ’ s major thesis is that the legal reforms (andiconoclasm) are reactions to the perceived divinepunishments of the Arabic conquests. H. de-scribes the legal reforms as ideologically attemptsto appease God and regain his favor for theChristian empire. A recurring minor thesis isthat ,  in contrast to the bleak picture pained bythe subsequent iconophile propaganda, one canspeak of a cultural renaissance during the Isauri-an rule paralleled to the contemporary culturalrenaissances of the two other heirs to the Romanlegacy: the Carolingian Frankish kingdom andthe Abbasid Caliphate.H. identifies three major ideological paradigmsof law for the period: the example of Emperor Justinian and the Roman legacy, the New Testa-ment, and Mosaic law together with biblical his-tory of Israel . The Council in Trullo is analyzed in chapter 1.H. presents the Council in Trullo as «the end notonly of early canon law, but also of ancientChristianity »  (p. 77). H. argues that Justinian IIlooked to his namesake Justinian I and sought toparallel his codification of Roman law with thecodification of Byzantine canon law by theCouncil in Trullo. He also argues that the de-crees of the council were prepared by the emper-or and his advisors rather than by the bishops.The rhetoric of the decrees presents the empireas a Christian empire eschatologically placed inthe history of redemption in the struggle againstsin interpreted through medicinal metaphors .  Justinian II is presented as modelling his legisla-tive work through the council on Justinian I,Heraclius, and Constantine IV. For the first timepastoral metaphors traditionally applied to bish-ops are also applied to the emperor by the coun-cil. The rhetoric of the council also likens theemperor with Christ and Phinehas of the OldTestament .  But the focus of the council is theNew Testament with its rhetoric of cleansing so-ciety of pagan and Judaizing practices .  H. ’ s inter-pretation is, as stated above, that the council is areaction against the rise of Islam and the Arabicconquests. H. does not consider that the councilalso enacts canons that might have been intend-ed for the churches under Muslim rule :  after all , the Council in Trullo enacted a rather coherentmarriage law that also had a practical relevancefor the churches in the conquered territories that were deprived of the jurisdiction of the empireand its legal order. The marriage legislation of the Council in Trullo could also be interpretedas a response to the juridical deficit in the area of family law for the Christians under Muslim rule.  «MEG» 16, 2016 476  Schede e segnalazioni bibliografiche An aspect of canon law that H. does not consideris that it theoretically also had a claim to authori-ty over the churches under Muslim rule; a claimimperial law could not make. H. could also havegiven a more detailed analysis of the nature of canon law and the relationship between canonsand imperial law. He does not make use of HeinzOhme ’ s study on the concept of canon in earlyChristian literature  (  Kanon ekklesiastikos: die Be-deutung des altkirchlichen Kanonsbegriffs ,  Berlin 1998),  nor of Hans-Georg Beck ’ s study on nomos  and  kanon  ( Nomos, Kanon und Staatsrai-son in Byzanz ,  Wien  1981)  or Spyros Troianos ’ analysis on the role of canons in the Byzantine le-gal order  ( Nomos und Kanon in Byzanz ,  pp. 199-222, in  Historia et Ius , II, Athens  2004) . Hans-Georg Beck does curiously not figure at all inH. ’ s bibliography.Chapter 2 deals with the  Ecloga . Humphreyslinks the  Ecloga  and partially also the associatedcodes to a judicial reform during the Isaurianreign. Ideologically the  Ecloga  reimagines Byzan-tine law as biblical law tempered by  philan-thropia  (although the law substantially remained Justinianic). The rhetoric of the  Ecloga  presentsthe emperors as  « Moses and Solomon reborn,morally reforming their peoples through correct-ed law and its just administration. The people arestill above all Christian, but conceived primarilyas the successors to Israel as the new elect, gov-erned by a law ultimately descendent from God,the same law as recorded by the prophets, al-though now corrected through the Christiangrace of   philanthropia »  (p. 105). In the contextof the marriage law of the  Ecloga ,  H. indulges inan anachronism when he speaks of the  « sacra-ment of marriage »  (p.  118) . The general conceptof sacrament  ( sacramentum in genere ) , which isthe conceptual prerequisite for understandingmarriage as a sacrament, was developed by West-ern scholastic theology in the twelfth century andnot introduced to Greek theology before the the-ological exchanges between East and West in re-lation with the council of Lyons in the thirteenthcentury. In relation to sexual crimes in the  Eclo-ga ,  H. notes that  « the greatest sexual crimes werethose that broke natural law  »  (p. 122). In thiscontext it would have been interesting to have anin-depth analysis of what the concept of naturallaw denotes in intellectual context of the  Ecloga ,but Humphreys merely uses it as if it was a self-evident concept.Chapters 3 to 5 deal with the Appendices to the Ecloga , the  Nomos Stratiotikos , the  Nomos Mo-saikos , the  Nomos Nautikos , and the  NomosGeorgikos .  H. presents the  Ecloga  and its legalculture (especially the influence of the Septu-agint on legal discourse, moral rigorism, and ju-dicial utility) as the prerequisite for these legaldocuments. The bulk of these chapters deals with the srcin, dating, and manuscript transmis-sion of these legal documents. In chapter 5,Humphreys also analyzes the judicial function of the so-called  akroatai  .  H. also discusses whetherthese legal soruces were private or official worksdespite that he himself consider such a discus-sion to be a  « thoroughly sterile debate »  (p. 192).In context of these legal sources of dubious offi-cial status, it would have been interesting to havean analysis of the role of custom in the Byzantinelegal order. H. notes a special interest in sexualmorality and marriage in the legal sources of theperiod, but he forbears to do an in-depth analy-sis the socioeconomic substratum of these regu-lations (e.g., gender, family structure, marriagestrategies in different social classes, and thetransmission of wealth and power through mar-riage and inheritance).In chapter 6, H. sketches the outline of the reac-tions to the legal legacy of the great Isaurian leg-islators by Irene, Leo V, and the early Macedo-nians. The reactions were marked by a moveaway from the biblical paradigm (especially theOld Testament paradigm) in favor of appealingto Roman legacy and the examples of Constan-tine I and Justinian I.The great merit of H. ’ s study is that it shows An-glophone historiography the value of Byzantinelaw and Greek canon law as historical sources. [ David Heith-Stade ]Alejandro Jiménez-Serrano, Cornelius von Pil-grim (edd.),  From the Delta to the Cataract. Stu-dies Dedicated to Mohamed el-Bialy , Leiden-Bo-ston, Brill, 2015 (Culture and History of the An-cient Near East 76), pp. XVI + 294. [ISBN 9789004293441]Il volume miscellaneo dedicato al poliedricoe infaticabile egittologo Mohamed el-Bialy, dapoco ritiratosi a vita privata, dopo aver presoparte a ricerche archeologiche nei più importantisiti egiziani ed essere stato  󲀓  tra i molti altri pre-stigiosi incarichi istituzionali  󲀓  direttore generaledelle antichità di Tebe Ovest e di Assuan, racco-glie contributi che spaziano dall ’ Antico Regno al-l ’ Alto Medioevo, passando dalla cultura materia-le, all ’ archeologia fino alla filologia.
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