Twelfth-century Byzantine canonist; b. Constantinople, c. 1105; d. there, c. 1195. Of a Constantinopolitan family, Theodore was a deacon in the church of hagia sophia and served the patriarch as his chief legal adviser, or chartophylax. He was elected patriarch of Antioch in his eighties (between 1185 and 1191), but he remained in Constantinople until his death.
His chief work is his commentary on the Photian Nomocanon of 14 titles that he composed at the suggestion of Emperor Manuel I Comnenus and Patriarch Michael of Anchialos. This was an attempt to solve the difficulties raised by contradictory Church laws and conflicting ecclesiastical and civil legislation. Besides the 14 titles, he clarified the whole collection of Byzantine law, relying strongly on work of the earlier canonist Zonaras. His principal interest for the historian is the number of documents he cites, frequently verbatim, that would be otherwise unknown.
In 1195 Patriarch Marcus of Alexandria directed some 60 questions to the permanent synod (synodos endemousa ) at Constantinople. Balsamon gave the answers; but recent investigation has shown that a second recension of these answers was most probably due to the Metropolitan John of Chalcedon, a contemporary of Balsamon.
A series of canonical monographs that clarify the inner organization of Byzantine ecclesiastical offices in relation to the patriarchate are also the work of Balsamon. He defended the position of the legal adviser to the patriarch against the encroachments of the protecticos, the curial official who presided over lesser legal cases. Balsamon aided the patriarch in composing a series of synodal acts, including that dealing with the translation of Patriarch Dositheus to the See of Constantinople (1190). Several manuscripts attribute to his authorship scholia on the Old Testament prophets; and Fabricius credits him with an account of the martyrdom of Saints Theodore and Claudius.
Bibliography: j. p. migne, ed., Patrologia Graeca 119:904–909, 1162–1224, monographs; v. 137–38. g. a. rhalles and m. potles, Syntagma tōn theiōn kai hierōn kanonōn, 6 v. (Athens 1852–59) in Greek. l. petit, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique (Paris 1903–50) 2.1:135–37. e. herman, Dictionnaire de droit canonique (Paris 1935–65) 2:76–83. v. narbekov, Der Nomokanon des Photios mit der Erklärung Balsamons, 2 v. (Kazan 1888–89), in Russ. s. p. lampros, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 5(1896) 565–66. v. grumel, Revue des études byzantines 1 (1943) 239–49, tr. h. g. beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur im byzantinischen Reich 70–73, 657–58, bibliog.
[f. x. murphy]