The Metaphrasis of St John of Sinai’s Ladder of Divine Ascent by Matthaios Blastares

Elliot Mason

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The present thesis is an edition and study of the Metaphrasis of St John of Sinai’s seventh-century Ladder of Divine Ascent by the Byzantine scholar and theologian Matthaios Blastares (c. 1290 - c. 1350). This Metaphrasis, hitherto unpublished in its entirety, is preserved in a unique manuscript in Thessaloniki, Vlatadon 25, ff. 6 -154.
The thesis comprises an Introduction, three Parts (I-III), and Conclusions. The Introduction presents the aims and structure of the thesis, and briefly discusses the use of, and attitudes towards, metaphrases in Byzantine literature, especially during the Palaiologan period (1260-1453). It examines their role across the breadth of Byzantine genres and considers both those metaphrases that sought to simplify texts into a more readily understood linguistic register and those that render texts into a more archaic and classical Greek style. This section is followed by a discussion of the original text of the Ladder of Divine Ascent by St John and its tradition in Byzantium. Part I is devoted to the manuscript tradition of Blastares’ Metaphrasis. It consists of an analytical description of the codex unicus and a palaeographical and textual examination of the text. Part II contains the edition of the critical text of Blastares’ Metaphrasis, preceded by a note on the principles and conventions adopted therein, and is accompanied by an apparatus criticus and an apparatus fontium in parallel with the original text presented beneath the edited text of the Metaphrasis for easy reference. Part III is devoted to a grammatical and stylistic analysis of Blastares’ Metaphrasis in the form of a commentary, which explores the principles, method, and techniques used by Blastares to render the original text into another stylistic register of the Greek language addressing a different audience. The Conclusions summarize the findings of the thesis and suggest further areas for research. The thesis closes with full bibliography and facsimiles of selected folia of manuscripts cited therein.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Dendrinos, Charalambos, Supervisor
  • Kremmydas, Christos, Advisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Mar 2019
Publication statusUnpublished - 2019


  • Byzantine Literature
  • Metaphrasis
  • Greek Palaeography
  • Blastares
  • Ladder of Divine Ascent

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