The Iberian Peninsula between Toletum and Constantinople. Hybrid constellations of religious knowledge

In the 6th and 7th centuries the population of the Iberian Peninsula was diverse. Numerous textual and archaeological sources prove that, despite military and diplomatic tensions, an intense cultural exchange takes place between the Visigothic kingdom and the Byzantine province of Spain. The geographical proximity creates an intercultural contact zone with Roman inhabitants of different faiths, Visigothic immigrants and Eastern Roman "occupiers". These fruitful interrelationships lead to the formation of hybrid concepts, for example in the negotiation processes of religious knowledge, which will be examined in more detail here. A special focus is placed on so-called Nestorian strands, which can be grasped, for instance, through the translation and reception of the writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia.

The project intends to shed light on two exemplary areas of discourse of religious knowledge:

  • Liturgies which, through their texts and in their executions, transport complex theologumena and performatively constitute the reality of faith of the practicing congregations. First and foremost, prayers and hymns that are used in the Visigothic, Mozarabic liturgy are instructive.
  • Dogmatic discussions, which are particularly reflected in Council acts and the surviving correspondence of local (religious) elites. Apart from the relevant councils of Toledo, especially epistles, such as papal letters or the so-called Epistula de una Christi veri Dei et hominis persona contra recens damnatum haeresium Nestorii testify to the relevance of the debate on the human nature of Christ. That "Nestorian" teachings have been adopted at least up to the early 9th century is also shown by the "Spanish Adoptianism", which Alcuin particularly attacked.

The analysis of such formations of knowledge promises a deeper understanding of the transfer and adaptation processes in the manifold contacts between the Byzantine Empire and its Euro-Mediterranean neighbours.


Univ.-Prof. Dr. Heike Grieser

Dominic Bärsch M.Ed.


Dominic Bärsch M.Ed.

B. Cultural Contacts and Cultural Transfer