Inter-cultural Transmission of Intellectual Traditions in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period. A comparative perspective


Olga Grinchenko

participant photo
The Byzantine hymnographical tradition during the first centuries of the history of Rus’

Despite the large number of the liturgical manuscripts which have come down to us, very little is known about the transmission of the Byzantine rite to the neighbouring countries. It is difficult to deduce the means of adopting an exquisite textual and musical Byzantine tradition by newly baptized nations.

As my contribution to the project I propose to undertake a comprehensive study of hymns contained in the Slavonic Kontakaria, dated from the 11th – 13th centuries, and their Greek counterparts, namely the Psaltikon and the Asmatikon. A comparative analysis of the contents of the manuscripts, their liturgical and calendrical peculiarities, along with a closer look at the enigmatic notation featured in these collections, will help to shed some light on the transmission of one of the central genres of the liturgical poetry, such as kontakion, from Byzantium to Medieval Rus’, to investigate the historical formation of the early Slavonic manuscript tradition, and to identify the influence of the Balkans on the early Slavonic ecclesiastical establishment.

The significance of this research goes beyond the relationship between the Slavonic and Byzantine manuscripts. The acquired results will allow us to link the Medieval Slavonic culture to other Christian nations and put Rus’ in a broader context of the Christian civilisation.

Olga Grinchenko is a graduate of the Orthodox Institute of S John the Theologian (Moscow). Between 2002 and 2005 she worked as a research assistant in the Museum of Early Russian Culture and Art (Moscow) and as lecturer of Church Slavonic and History of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Institute of Culture and Art (Moscow). In 2004-2007 she worked as an editor and author in the Orthodox Encyclopaedia (Moscow). Currently she is a D.Phil. student at the University of Oxford (Brasenose College, Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages). Her main research interest lies in the means of transmission of the Byzantine ecclesiastical culture, especially hymnography, into the neighbouring lands. Her subject research includes examination of the contents of the Slavonic and Byzantine collections of kontakia from the 11th-14th centuries in order to shed some light on the historical formation of the Slavonic rite and its relationship with the various liturgical traditions of the Byzantine Empire.