Matthew Groves (KCL) - 2016-17 Students

Holy Madness as a Genuine Imitation of Christ

The phenomenon of Holy Fools within the Christian Church, both historical and literary, has not been fully investigated. The Holy Fool both raises and answers important questions. First, to what extent is the Holy Fool genuinely imitating Christ? If he is a genuine imitation, then why did this specific interpretation of Christ arise in the Near East and Russia, but not in Western Christendom? Furthermore, the Holy Fool by his very vocation raises and answers questions about the dichotomy between charisma and the institution. The Holy Fool may resolve this dichotomy and in his imitation of Christ reveal how Christ himself resolved the dichotomy. Much of the current scholarship of most weight looks at the phenomenon from the angle of its later adoption by Russia. As will be seen, while this work is of great value, it is too specific to the Russian context, interpreting Holy Fools through a Russian or Byzantine lens. I aim to take a less positivist approach by examining the Holy Fool prior to his adoption by Russia and in the context of Syriac as well as Byzantine Christianity.

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