The Mount Athos Greek Manuscripts Catalog:

The Philotheou Monastery Project:
Papers on the History of the Monastery and its Manuscript Library

© Robert W. Allison
Bates College
Lewiston, Maine, U.S.A.

Go directly to: | Contents |


This section of the Philotheou Project WWW server contains information of a historical nature about the Monastery of Philotheou itself, and about the history of the manuscript library at Philotheou, that is, the collection and production of books at the Monastery and the Philotheite scribes and their work.

The existence of a monastic library which has been intact since 1141 and has suffered no major depredations or destructions provides scholars with the unusual opportunity to relate the library to the history of the internal life of the monastery --

A library intact is much more than the sum of its parts; it reveals patterns that are lost when the books are scattered. It reveals itself as an integral part of the life and history of the monastery as a whole. These patterns and this history, in turn, provide a context essential to understanding and interpreting any manuscript in that library.

The Library of Philotheou Monastery is particularly well suited to such a comprehensive study. Its relatively small size makes it possible to obtain an overview and to observe patterns which would be harder to find in some of the largest libraries on Mt. Athos. Its long, uninterrupted history means that it preserves volumes reflecting the different periods in the history of the Monastery itself. Philotheou therefore offers the conditions and materials for a case study in how the evidence preserved in the monastic manuscript library enables us to flesh out the skeletal history provided by archival documents.

The foundation for any study of a monastery's history, of the history of the library, or of the codices in it is chronology. This means determining

The papers here collected all contribute to this historiographical task, and are intended to complement the cataloging project.

The material here presented is being developed for inclusion in the introduction to the Catalog of the Greek Manuscripts of Philotheou Monastery. Readers who follow the development of this site have the privilege of observing a project in process. The original versions of these studies have all been presented, over the duration of this project, at the meetings of the American Byzantine Studies Conference, at the International Byzantine Studies Congresses (Washington, D.C., 1986 and Moscow, 1991) and at various symposia identified in the prefaces of the papers here presented.

A Caveat

Because of the nature of this work -- it is a long-range project based on Summer expeditions which yearly yield new information as new manuscripts are added to the list of those previously cataloged -- the process of working out the history of this library has been a gradual one. Since the original presentation of these papers at the conferences and symposia mentioned above, they have all evolved with the introduction of new information from the cataloging project. Likewise, the picture presented here at any time of the Philotheite library itself and the analysis of the significance of individual books found in it are subject to change.

The World Wide Web is a natural medium for timely publication of research which is, inevitably, in the nature of a work in progress. Persons consulting these pages are advised to notice the date of issue and/or update at the ends of the various documents.

The World Wide Web is also a natural medium for interaction between the director of the project and those interested in it. Readers are encouraged to

| Return to Introduction |


The papers here listed are being converted for presentation on the World Wide Web, and will appear here during the course of the Fall of 1995. Copies of papers not yet converted may be obtained by contacting the author at the address at the end of this page.

| Return to Contents | Return to Introduction |

Return to:
| Philotheou Project Home Pg | Introduction to Historical Papers |

Created and © by Robert W. Allison
Dept. of Philosophy & Religion, Bates College
Lewiston, Maine 04240

Last Updated: April 18, 1996

Responses may be addressed electronically by e-mail to