Hell Really Exists

Hell Really Exists

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meetings of confraternities. Accounts of journeys to the other world were very popular among eastern Christians: heaven was envisaged as a superior version of the emperor's hierarchy on earth, while people of this world were punished in hell. Works of Middle Byzantine vision literature, such as the Apocalypse of Anastasia, seem to have had negative nuances, criticising the government's harsh corporal punishments and also corrupt officials. However, they did not set out to overturn the imperial order as such or propagate heresy: on the contrary they probably owed their popularity to their effective reinforcing of the Orthodox moral code against proselytising heretics.100 The Apocalypse ofAnas-tasia was translated into Slavonic at an early date, perhaps in twelfth-century Bulgaria, and copies of this Apocalypse circulated as far north as Rus. So, too, did copies of Kosmas's treatise against the heretics, a tenth-century Bulgarian text overtly castigating the Bogomils, dualists at odds with the imperial order, as with all ranks and material things. There are several hints, not least the popularity of texts denouncing them, that South Slav or Byzantine dualist proselytisers and writings of one kind or another circulated through the urban centres of Rus. It could even be that the strigol'niki, targets of treatises penned by Stefan of Perm as well as by Patriarch Neilos, owed something to dualist notions.101 These manifestations of dissent inevitably varied according to time and place, but the politico-religious order they denounce is structured along Byzantine hierarchical lines. This 'force field' of beliefs, apprehensions and negations could also take material form in unauthorised but not consciously unorthodox amulets, for example the bronze 'womb' pendants made for the protection of women.

Another instance of the 'force field's' workings comes from the distribution pattern of those whose behaviour flouted conventions of property and propriety in affirmation of otherworldly values, the fools for Christ. They might snatch food from a market-stall, disrupt church services or even berate an emperor. Holy fools were venerated in late antique and earlier medieval Constantinople and the Lives of St Andrew the Fool and several other fools had been translated into Slavonic by the twelfth century. Instances of folly for Christ occur in most societies imbued with Byzantine Christianity, for example the Bulgarians and Georgians. Individual monks were acting the fool in Rus by

100 J. Baun, 'Middle Byzantine "tours of hell": outsider theodicy?', in Strangers to themselves: the Byzantine outsider, ed. D. C. Smythe (Aldershot, 2000), 58-9; Baun, Tales from another Byzantium: celestial journey and local community in the medieval Greek Apocrypha (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006). See also D. Angelov, 'The eschatolog-ical views of medieval Bulgaria as reflected in the canonical and apocryphal literature', Bulgarian Historical Review 18 (1990), 31-42.

101 Meyendorff, Byzantium, 137, 231 and n. 19.

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