The papers in this session explore uses of ideas of heresy as part of political discourses and conflicts in a range of faith contexts.
This paper seeks to explore Al-Farabi’s theory of heresy. Al-Farabi (870-950) is well appreciated for his political treatises. He supported the idea that humans are able to attain the ultimate goal of happiness only in the framework of the virtuous city, despite of the fact that the peripheral class of the outgrowths hampers the attainment of happiness. Certain groups of the outgrowths, the falsifiers and the heretics, interpret in a false way and misunderstand the words and the intentions of the lawgiver. As a result they distort the institutions of the virtuous city. On the basis of pertinent evidence this paper will attempt to show Al-Farabi’s political approach of heresy.
The paper will present a critical evaluation of the so-called *Peuseis, 8th-century iconoclastic treatises believed to be composed by the odious Byzantine emperor Constantine V and hypothetically reconstructed with the use of their 9th-century refutation by the orthodox Constantinopolitan Patriarch Nicephorus I. A philological analysis of Nicephorus’s treatises provide strong evidence that *Peuseis were not purely theological works but also contained some important political aspects. As for Constantine’s fame of radical and ingenious theologian, it is due to the work of later orthodox polemists depicting him as an ‘idea’ heretic responsible for introduction of the iconoclastic doctrine in Byzantium.