Wolfgang GEIER: Bulgarien zwischen West und Ost vom 7. bis 20. Jahrhundert. Sozial- und kulturhistorische Epochen, Ereignisse und Gestalten. Harassowitz Verlag. Wiesbaden 2001. 276 Seiten. [Rezension]

Duridanov, Ludmil (2003) Wolfgang GEIER: Bulgarien zwischen West und Ost vom 7. bis 20. Jahrhundert. Sozial- und kulturhistorische Epochen, Ereignisse und Gestalten. Harassowitz Verlag. Wiesbaden 2001. 276 Seiten. [Rezension]. Zeitschrift für Balkanologie, 39 (1). pp. 112-116. ISSN 0044-2356

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The following book review focusses on the highlights of a pocket size Bulgarian history (VII. - XX. century). Wolfgang Geier’s book with its widely designed panorama “opens” the tourist eyes by touching upon essential points of Bulgarian background culture and history. A book in the French ‘Que sais-je’ collection format tradition not yet available in the German book market is what makes Geier's short history so valuable. Passing through the morphology of time history which follows Spengler’s and Toynbee’s perspective – Geier’s historical image of Bulgaria could be enriched by some “invisible moments”. Such, for example, is the crucial difference between East and West Christian tradition wherein using Old Bulgarian as a language of mission and liturgy complies perfectly with the image of Eastern Christendom dealing with a variety of living languages from the earliest Christian centuries on.
Old Bulgarian was introduced as a liturgical language becoming that way equal to Greek and Latin. It replaced Greek with a canonical decision of the local synod in the ‘King city’ Preslav (893 AD). Its use as a language of the Mass was also emphasized in the Vita Kyrilli (Ch. 16). This could have been a legal choice for the Bulgarian Kingdom as the “Third Empire” in Europe’s Middle Ages, because it had been earlier developed as a way of thinking and living by Byzantine monks and priests. A “template” for the living tradition could be made by the actions of Johannes Chrysostomos (Bishop of Constantinople / 398-404 AD) who offered St. Paul's Church to a local minority aiming to celebrate the Christian Mass in their own spoken language. Johannes did not only assist at the Arian liturgy by hearing a Gothic-Greek simultaneous translation, but intervened at a moment by preaching to the people in Greek which was “loudly reversed” in Gothic by his interpreter. The ‘language scope’ of the liturgy was harnessed with a XII. AD canonical answer of Theodore Balsamon to the Melkite patriarch of Alexandria. Celebration of the liturgy by Syrian and Armenian priests was allowed in Egypt, since they had a “correct version” readily available in the documents of the Byzantine rite, and practiced in their own spoken languages for the reason of not understanding Greek. Next big topic (slightly neglected by Geier) is the crowning of a Bulgarian ‘King of all Romans and Bulgarians’ and the political recognition of the Bulgarian (Arch)bishop as Patriarch by a Roman church authority which raises the political legitimacy of the Bulgarian Kingdom to a “Roman Empire” and a third political power of the Middle Ages. Three times a Bulgarian king was crowned during the Middle Ages and pronounced ‘King of all Romans and Bulgarians’ by a Roman High priest. The first crown of a Roman emperor was “laid” by the hands of IX. AD Byzantine Patriarch Nikolaos Mystikos (Bishop of Constantinople), which was considered highly controversial. After defeating the Byzantine army, the Bulgarian King Simeon was blessed by his own godfather, Nikolaos (after confessing his sins) in front of Constantinople’s gates. On the battlefield no priest would carry out a crown to put it on the head of a king. So, the crowning ceremony was “reduced” which was discernible as such by Simeon, because of his relevant religious knowledge from a Constantinople’s elite school. Greek and Latin “hostile sources” remain silent on this issue, practicing the principle of damnatio memoriae, despite the obvious fact that in that way Simeon became ‘King of all Romans and Bulgarians’. Around three centuries later the second “Roman king’s crowning” took place wherein Kaloyan Assen undisputedly received in 1204 the crown by the Roman Pope, Innocent III. (Bishop of Rome) being proclaimed within a complete ‘Western ceremony’ as a ‘King of all Romans and Bulgarians’. His spiritual counterpart, Vasily (Bishop of Veliko Tarnovo) was consecrated at that moment as 'Patriarch of all Romans and Bulgarians'. Even then Vasily was merely addressed in a written form as a church Primas by Pope Innocent III. Only after defeating the Byzantine army in Klokotnitsa in 1230 was Ioan Assen II. acknowledged the title ‘King of all Greeks and Bulgarians’ by the Kings of “Byzance après Byzance” – Theodore Komnenos (Byzantine King of Thessaloniki) and Ioannes III. Doukas Vatatzes (Byzantine King of Nicaea). The Byzantine recognition of Ioakim as a Patriarch (being Bishop of Veliko Tarnovo) prompted the Church Union breach between Rome and Constantinople during the same year.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Bulgarian history, Medieval culture, Old Bulgarian language, Orthodox liturgy, Church law, Ohrid, Preslav, Bulgarian kingdom, Religion and ritual
Subjects:History.Archaeology > History of Byzantium
History.Archaeology > Historical records, A records of the past
History.Archaeology > History of Bulgaria
History.Archaeology > Middle ages history
History.Archaeology > World history
Language. Linguistics. Literature > Language
Religion > Christianity. Christian doctrinal theology
Sociology.Anthropology > Cultural anthropology
ID Code:3978
Deposited By: Dr. Ludmil Duridanov
Deposited On:30 Jan 2019 14:06
Last Modified:25 Mar 2019 14:47

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