Pembroke College : Life of Barlaam and Joasaph

Hagioreites, Euthymios (d. 1028)

Pembroke College

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript, dating to the early 17th century, contains the Life of Barlaam and Joasaph (or Josaphat), a Christianised version of the life of the Buddha, who appears as Joasaph, a name ultimately derived from the term Boddhisatva, while Barlaam is his teacher, a character derived from the ascetic who inspired the Buddha's turn to spiritual pursuits. In this text they are credited with reviving Christianity in India, supposed to have reverted to its old religious traditions after its conversion to Christianity by St Thomas.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The story of the Buddha had been adopted into the Manichaean tradition, capitalising on the themes of renunciation of the world and the flesh common to Buddhism and Manichaeism, and passed thence through Persian and Arabic versions before entering the Georgian Christian tradition. From there it was translated into Greek, with some alterations, in the late 10th or early 11th century by Euthymios Hagioreites, a Georgian monk who spent much of his life in Constantinople and in the monasteries of the Byzantine holy mountains of Olympos and Athos, eventually becoming abbot of the Georgian Monastery of Iviron on Mount Athos. The title commonly transmitted with the work credited a monk named John with bringing the story from India (here conflated with Ethiopia), and this led to a traditional attribution of the text to the Church Father John of Damascus.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript, in Greek script of a western European type, is probably to be dated to 1628, the date which appears on its front endleaf (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(11);return false;'>f. ii recto</a>), although this does not explicitly state that it relates to the time of production. Its relationship with other manuscripts suggest that it was copied in England.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>


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