Judean hagiographies are unusual. Some are unexpectedly structured: a saint’s life in the form of a history text. Others offer surprising content. Expected hagiographic stylizations, for example, often depict moments in which the saint is offered money for a miracle. In such cases the saint invariably refuses. Judean saints, however, accept gratitude willingly – often with cash amounts recorded. The peculiarities of these works have regularly been examined on literary and theological grounds. The monasteries that produced these texts were utterly dominated by the environment of Christian Jerusalem. Although often commented upon, the unmined implications of this reality hold the key to understanding these hagiographies. It is only by examining these monasteries’ ties to – and embeddedness within – their peculiar context that we can perceive the mindset that produced such baffling texts.
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Judean hagiographies are unusual. Some surprise in their structure, resembling historical chronicles more than "traditional" hagiographies. Others offer unexpected content, running counter to the stylizations of their time. The peculiarities of these works have often been examined on literary and theological grounds. It is the unmined implications of their socio-economic context, however, that provide new perspectives on the works' unique qualities. The local and imperial connections of the saints, the networks they constructed, and the institutional realities of the monasteries they founded shine new light on Judean texts. The search for this formative context leads the reader through the patronage networks of Jerusalem, Constantinople, and Rome. It moves from the quiet desert to the bustling halls of power, and from anchoritic cells to ecumenical councils. It navigates ecclesiastical factions of Syriac, Greek, and Latin connection, and negotiates the economics of Holy Land pilgrimage. Circling back to examine the hagiographers themselves in a new way, the search provides new answers to an old question: why are Judean hagiographies so unusual? This approach firmly links the works to their institutions, and envisions them as the textual element of larger hierotopic constructions.