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Kassia the Nun in Context


The Religious Thought of a Ninth-Century Byzantine Monastic


Kassia the Nun offers a unique glimpse into ninth-century Byzantium in the only woman whose works were included in the corpus of liturgical hymns. This volume explores Kassia’s thought on Christology, on gender, and on monasticism itself. It provides readers with an opportunity to know this woman of remarkable intellect, wit, and piety by drawing primarily on her own words. Kassia’s is one of the only female voices from ninth-century Byzantium and this volume accordingly examines her reflections on gender in the context of her society and concludes that she represents a perspective that might be described as feminist.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-61143-969-4
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: May 24,2013
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 160
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-61143-969-4
$123.00
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Kassia the Nun offers a unique glimpse into ninth-century Byzantium as the only woman whose works were included in the corpus of liturgical hymns. This volume explores Kassia’s thought on Christology, on gender, and on monasticism itself.


Kurt Sherry’s analysis provides readers with an opportunity to know this woman of remarkable intellect, wit, and piety by drawing primarily on her own words. He critically examines the most famous vignette of her life: a heated exchange of wits with the Emperor Theophilos, whereupon he married a rival. Sherry examines the way Kassia articulated the partisan theology of the iconophiles. Kassia’s is one of the only female voices from ninth-century Byzantium and this volume accordingly examines her reflections on gender in the context of her society and concludes that she represents a perspective that might be described as feminist. The last chapter evaluates Kassia’s philosophy of monasticism and puts her forward as a true “Mother of the Church.” This volume also contains appendices helpful for both the scholar and layperson alike, including new English translations of certain relevant texts.

Kassia the Nun offers a unique glimpse into ninth-century Byzantium as the only woman whose works were included in the corpus of liturgical hymns. This volume explores Kassia’s thought on Christology, on gender, and on monasticism itself.


Kurt Sherry’s analysis provides readers with an opportunity to know this woman of remarkable intellect, wit, and piety by drawing primarily on her own words. He critically examines the most famous vignette of her life: a heated exchange of wits with the Emperor Theophilos, whereupon he married a rival. Sherry examines the way Kassia articulated the partisan theology of the iconophiles. Kassia’s is one of the only female voices from ninth-century Byzantium and this volume accordingly examines her reflections on gender in the context of her society and concludes that she represents a perspective that might be described as feminist. The last chapter evaluates Kassia’s philosophy of monasticism and puts her forward as a true “Mother of the Church.” This volume also contains appendices helpful for both the scholar and layperson alike, including new English translations of certain relevant texts.

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Contributor Biography

Kurt Sherry

Kurt Sherry teaches history at Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School in Wichita, Kansas. He holds a a B.A. in History from the University of Kansas and an M.A. in History from the University of Wyoming.

  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • Illustrations (page 7)
  • Preface (page 9)
  • Acknowledgments (page 11)
  • Abbreviations (page 13)
  • Introduction (page 15)
    • A Biographical Sketch (page 17)
    • Kassias Theological Context: Authority in the Byzantine Church (page 21)
    • A Note About Sources (page 26)
  • 1 Kassia the Candidate (page 29)
  • 2 Kassia the Feminist (page 37)
  • 3 Kassia the Iconophile (page 57)
    • The Evolution of the Iconoclast Debate (page 58)
    • Women as Iconophiles (page 64)
    • Iconophile Themes in Kassias Works (page 66)
  • 4 Kassia the Monastic (page 77)
    • Male and Female Monasticism in Byzantium (page 82)
    • Kassias Philosophy of Monasticism (page 89)
  • 5 Kassia the Person (page 107)
    • Kassia and Friendship (page 107)
    • Kassias Reaction to Beauty and Wealth (page 110)
    • Kassia on Envy (page 117)
    • Kassias Reflections on Speech and Silence (page 118)
    • Conclusions on Kassias Personality (page 122)
  • Appendix 1: Kassias Poems on Monasticism (page 125)
    • On Monastics (page 127)
    • What is a Monastic? (page 129)
  • Appendix 2: Byzantine Chronicles for Reconstructing Kassias Life (page 133)
    • Symeon the Logothete, Chronographia (10th c.) (page 134)
    • George the Monk, Chronikon 4.264 (11th c.) (page 136)
    • Leo the Grammarian, Chronographia (10th/11th c.) (page 138)
    • John Zonaras, Chronikon (12th c.) (page 140)
    • Michael Glykas, Chronographia (12th c.) (page 142)
    • The Patria of Constantinople (page 143)
    • Ephraim the Monk, Chronikon (14th c.) (page 144)
  • Bibliography (page 147)
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