Some kinder 20th-century scholars have offered modest corrections to the conventional narrative, denying the accusation of caesaropapism
and celebrating Byzantine art and culture, but no one has gone as far as Kaldellis in asserting the secular basis of Byzantine politics or in demonstrating the blindness of Western historians who only understand politics according to Enlightenment categories of thought.
Throughout the book's chapters, we are led to question "certain powerful narratives [that] have held the field," including "the idea of Byzantium as an overwhelmingly Orthodox society," characterized by "Caesaropapism
," and the closely connected narrative of Byzantium "as an overwhelmingly religious society" (pp.
(4) The controversy continues to arm modern apologists in the primacy war: from an Eastern perspective, Gregory, one of the most "Orthodox" popes in history, provides a concise condemnation of papal authority; from a Roman perspective, the machinations of the emperor and his patriarch characterize Byzantine arrogance and display the deficiencies of caesaropapism
. See, for example, Gregorio Cognetti, "The Pope Who Condemned Primacy," Christian Activist: A Journal of Orthodox Opinion 4 (1994) 4-5.
and unto God what is God's") prevented the emergence of Caesaropapism
in Christian history or the medieval concept of Christendom, all-encompassing visions of a tight relation between church and state not altogether different from some contemporary Islamic understandings of the ummah, or the community of all Muslim believers.
Theocracy and caesaropapism
were illiberal in the same way: each infringed on the necessary autonomy of church and state.
Now Jean Birrell has produced a translation of Dagron's seminal study of the imperial office in Byzantium, which begins with the question of Caesaropapism
: "The real question is whether the emperor was or was not, in his own way, a priest.
Cholij ably leads the reader through the complexity of Byzantine concepts such as the economy of the saints, dangers of caesaropapism
, and competing claims to spiritual authority.
The West, in turn, opposed the Caesaropapism
(subordination of the Church to a secular ruler) that characterised the Church at Constantinople.
Sharply deviating from recent celebrations of heterono mous "exteriority," Panikkar criticizes an approach which denudes or desacralizes the world in favor of religious, often clerical, authority and authoritarianism (sometimes culminating in theocracy or caesaropapism