Nikephoros Kallistos

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NIKEPHOROS KALLISTOS (c. 12561335), more fully Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos; Byzantine theologian and church historian. Most probably Nikephoros was a native of Constantinople and had served as a priest on the staff of the Hagia Sophia cathedral. Of the very little that we know about his life, it seems certain that, during the reign of Emperor Andronikos the Elder (r. 12821328), Nikephoros was active in ecclesiastical affairs and sided with those who opposed union with Rome.

Nikephoros wrote several works. His eighteen-book Ecclesiastical History covers the period from the birth of Christ to 610 and is important because it provides information on hagiology and on the theological and Christological controversies of the early centuries. A summary of five more books at the end of his introduction to the History has been accepted as an indication that he intended to continue the narrative to 912. There is no evidence that Nikephoros intended to write a general ecclesiastical history from the church's inception to his own time. Though the earliest books depend heavily on the church historians of the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries, such as Eusebius of Caesarea, Socrates, Sozomenos, Theodoretos, Evagrios Scholastikos, and Theodore the Lector, Krumbacher (1897) has rightly observed that "in matters and topics dear to him, [Nikephoros] was an original and worthy author."

Of his other writings, Nikephoros's didactic poems became very popular and have survived in many manuscripts. He also wrote several liturgical, exegetical, and hagiographical works, including a synopsis of the holy scripture in iambics, the Siege of Jerusalem, the life and miracles of Nicholas of Myra, seven hymns to the theotokos, and several short hymns for the Akathistos Hymn. He wrote homilies on and commentaries to Psalms and homilies on Gregory of Nazianzus.


Works by Nikephoros Kallistos

The writings of Nikephoros Kallistos can be found in volumes 145, 146, and 147 of Patrologia Graeca, edited by J.-P. Migne (Paris, 1865).

Works about Nikephoros Kallistos

Beck, Hans Georg. Kirche und theologische Literatur in Byzantinischen Reich. Munich, 1959. See pages 705706.

Krumbacher, Karl. Geschichte der byzantinischen Literatur von Justinian bis zum Ende des oströmischen Reiches, 5271453. 2d ed. Munich, 1897. See pages 291293.

Papadopoulos-Kerameus, A. "Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos." Byzantinische Zeitschrift 11 (1902): 3849.

Politēs, Linos. "Agnōsto ergo tou Nikephorou Kallistou Xanthopoulou." Klēronomia 3 (1971): 6984.

Demetrios J. Constantelos (1987)