In his Short History of Byzantium, John Julius Norwich notes “an aspect of daily life in Byzantium [that we] find hardest to comprehend: the involvement of all classes of society in what appear today to be impossibly abstruse doctrinal niceties.” From Byzantium’s beginning in the 4th century AD, long battles occurred between the orthodox and adherents of doctrines with strange names like monothelitism and monophysitism. These were discussions that would stress our most advanced seminarians today. They involved deep questions about Christ’s divinity, his nature and will. If Christ is real, these discussions matter. And yet, so many moderns instinctively look down on these “barbarians” from the Middle Ages, who would surely marvel in turn at our arrogance. How poorly we compare intellectually to these citizens of what is laughably referred to as the “Dark Ages.”

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