Sinitca M. M.

On the question of the religious views of an early-byzantine antiquarian John Lydus


The theme of this work is the study of religious views of John Lydus who was an early-Byzantine administrator and writer on antiquarian subjects. The main methods of the study are content analysis, historical systematical analysis and historical-genetical approach. In his works John Lydus writes about pagan culture and values with such piety that many researchers consider him a priori a hidden pagan, at the same time, in the context of the epoch, others unreasonably think him to be a Christian. However, his long and successful career of a writer in the era of Justinian religious persecutions in addition to his interest in paganism requires a reconsideration of these points of view. Analyzing Lydus’ treatises, it is possible to draw a conclusion that the author positions himself as a Christian, though a rather vulgar one, who does not understand the nuances of Christian doctrine. Lydus perceived pagan doctrines through the prism of «science» rather critically. His interest in antiquity was of scholastic research nature. Nevertheless, the John Lydus’ outlook was based on the pagan, Neoplatonic in its essence, philosophy, which was the dominant scientific paradigm in the early Byzantine society. Thus, the analysis of John Lydus’ religious views show his dual belief, i.e. a combination of pagan and Christian beliefs, which reveals the ambivalent religious situation in the early Byzantine society.

About the autors:

Marina Mihaylovna Sinitca, Postgraduate at the Department of General History, Belgorod National Research University

Place of employment:




Key words:

: John Lydus; Neoplatonism; early Byzantine paganism; early Byzantine Christianity; persecution; Justinian; Early Byzantium