Post-classical history

Theodore Balsamon

Canonist and Greek Orthodox patriarch of Antioch (1183-c. 1204).

Theodore Balsamon was born in Constantinople (mod. Istanbul, Turkey) between 1130 and 1140. He was ordained as a deacon, probably in the 1160s, and by 1179 he had become the leading official of the patriarchal bureaucracy in Constantinople. He was commissioned by Emperor Manuel I Komnenos and Patriarch Michael III of Constantinople with the task of writing commentaries on the nomokanon (compilation of imperial laws and ecclesiastical regulations concerning the church) and on the canons of the apostles, the ecumenical and local synods, and the church fathers. The first edition of these commentaries was completed before September 1180; the second edition, dedicated to Patriarch George II Xiphilinos, before February 1195.

Probably in autumn 1183, Balsamon was nominated Greek patriarch of Antioch (mod. Antakya, Turkey). Like most of his predecessors in the twelfth century, he had to stay in Constantinople, because the patriarchal throne of Antioch was occupied by a Latin. As the most important canonist of the Byzantine church, Balsamon was strictly anti-Latin and a champion of canonical and liturgical standardization.

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