Darius and Asenath (concluded)

O’Donovan Notes #13e

The author’s rights are asserted.

c.2700 words.

(updates – references added again – 2nd May 2023.)

The effect on Voynich studies of a ‘meme-law’ opposing the usual duty to acknowledge honestly both precedents and sources has become as pervasive as it it is erosive.

Among its other negative effects is the misdirection, misinformation and waste of newcomers’ time and energy; an encouragement of plagiarism and that endless re-invention and re-‘discovery’ of matter already done that Pelling once called the ‘Voynich ground-hog day’.

Ironically, Rich Santacoloma – a researcher of high ethical standards – fell for the notion that “to credit precedents is unnecessary” only to find that refusing such information to newcomers had resulted in a seminal study of his own not being noted and duly credited.

In that case, we were both fortunate in that a person who read both Rich’s work and mine was able to bridge that gap, when it came to precedent studies for a drawing on f.77r.

I’ve already linked to Rich’s post, and reprinted my post in earlier parts of this ‘Darius and Asanath’ series. With those as foundation, let’s hope future writers will be able to build more rather than re-inventing the same matter.

What results from newcomers’ being denied information about precedent studies, or deliberately misinformed either by omission or mis-attribution is well-illustrated by considering two posts written as recently as 2019 and 2020 by a writer known only as ‘JK’ Petersen. He was attempting to address the same drawing earlier commented on by Pelling (2006), then identified by RichSantacoloma as describing a system of elements (2010), and then provided an analytical study by the present writer – in a longer version in 2011 and a shorter version in 2012. I have re-published the shorter version earlier in this series.

Normally, a newcomer to any study in the critical sciences expects to begin by surveying what has been said before, weighing opinions and evidence adduced, and finally seeing whether they can add something to what has been contributed before.

The prevalence of that Voynich ‘meme-law’ against providing information about precedent studies (especially ones which do not support a preferred theory) meant that ‘JK’ was left to start from the beginning and giveen the false impression that the ‘elements’ thing was some nebulous group-think notion, without any reasoned argument behind it. He was also left supposing that he had been the first person to notice that there were not ‘4’ but ‘5’.

And so, almost a decade after publication of the foundational studies, ‘JK’ is evidently unaware that Santacoloma had interpreted the drawing as an image of the elements, or that a full analytical study had been published the following year. For ‘JK’ it’s not any result of reasoned argument, but a vague, unattributed ‘idea’. The difference, of course, is that one is, and the other isn’t, a research-conclusion relying on verifiable evidence. That is what is lost when precedents are not honestly credited.

So ‘JK’ wrote:

The VMS image at the top of folio 77r is often interpreted as the four elements (air, earth, fire, and water). But there are five pipes, not four. I did find one medieval representation with a fifth component in the center called null, and some conceptions include a fifth “element” as spirit, aether, or void, so it’s not unreasonable to suppose the diagram might represent elements.

JKPetersen, ‘Fire and Ice’ , voynichportal (blog), 27 26 July 2019.

Unaware of Santacoloma’s essay, and left ignorant of the relevance of certain Greek terms, ‘JK’ tried to explain that drawing by Ovid’s Metamorphoses (Bk 15) from which, of course, the critical terms are absent.

In following year, ‘JK’ tried again, this time attempting to use the drawing on f.77r to manufacture support for an ‘alchemical Voynich’ theory – one found in d’Imperio’s book but unsupported by any specialist in the history of alchemy or of Europe’s alchemical imagery. Nonetheless, it has become an  idée fixe for some Voynich theorists.

Evidently also left in the dark about the reasoned objections against an ‘alchemical Voynich’ theory JK’s post entitled ‘Torre Filosofica’ (6 February 2020) moves away from trying to explain the drawing itself, and towards a more imaginative-persuasive approach. He signals the shift towards imagination with a ‘Maybe…’ :

I have never been completely convinced that these pipes were meant to be earth, water, air, and fire. Maybe [sic!] they represent various outflows of alchemical heating and condensing processes“…

Whether this is truly a new thought sprung only from his imagination, or not, one cannot be certain – but JK cites no precedent and credits no previous author as having suggested anything of the sort about that drawing on f.77r.

The rest of his ‘Torre…’ post is simply an attempt to persuade the reader to accept the alchemical idea, using various drawings from Latin works which add nothing to our understanding of the drawing itself – not its details or disposition of elements, nor its style of drawing.

‘JK’ once said plainly, when asked, that he felt no obligation to cite any of the sources he used, nor to give due credit to precedents in Voynich studies – so if he was a victim of the ‘blanking’ habit, we must consider him a complicit victim.

Certainly, his readers are very often left without the means to test, check, or follow up things said in his posts. They are constantly presented with such statements as:

“Many alchemical images have been related to the VMS in one way or another over the decades. Not surprisingly, since many alchemical manuscripts are enigmatic and highly symbolic.


Having made it clear enough, I trust, that I’m not keen on theorising and am very keen on maintaining the usual ethical standards in documentation, I’ll also say it is good to sometimes take a break from the real work and muse for a while about what different people have said and thought.

I don’t call this weaving theories but indulging in “what if”s, including “what if I’m mistaken and that other person is right …”.

“What if”s…

I have asked “what if the drawing on 77r were about European alchemy?” and laid out, in imagination, a research-plan that might put that possibility to the test.

The first stage would be to consult a few among the reputable Dictionaries of alchemical symbolism. I’d be looking for “wood not formed in any way” provided with 5 labelled protrusions. (see post of April 6th for details),

Then, I think, I’d turn to the scholarly sources – books, journal articles, academic papers and so on – to see what they might have to say about the evolution of alchemical studies and imagery – in the western sphere certainly, but also in the eastern and I’d follow up those writer’s footnotes about illustrated alchemical mss made earlier than 1440 AD.

All the while, of course, keeping in mind that Erwin Panofsky was right, pretty much, when he said that ‘shapely’ unclothed female figures don’t appear in the art of western Christian Europe before the Italian Renaissance – a bit late for the Vms. Panofsky doesn’t seem to have known works of Ambroglio Lorenzetti, though – that ‘humanist’ before humanism, who died in about 1350 AD of plague and whose figure for ‘Security’ was included in the previous post. As far as I can discover it has never been mentioned before by a Voynich writer, but do please correct me on that if you know better.

It was in that same ‘what if…’ mood that I began thinking through possible ramifications of Darius’ explanation for the first line of written text on f.77r.

Let me say here – yet again – that when it comes to Voynichese I am the most adamant agnostic!!

I have no opinion about whether the written text is enciphered or not, nor about what language (if any) might underlie the present written text. I have never found any argument about Voynichese a final word, and experience has shown that unless some impartial external specialist offers an opinion, one is wiser to believe no Voynichero’s […claim about the text’s underlying language]. May 9th – italicised phrase to clarify.

Darius’ remarks about Joseph and Asenath had seemed to me to have no particular relevance to the drawing (reasons given in earlier posts).

On the other hand, musing about it did begin to show ways that there might – just possibly might – be less a direct sort of connection, and that alone was a new and interesting possibility. We are all used to presuming that drawings must be simply illustrations of whatever writing lies near it.

One can imagine less direct links. Say, the elemental ‘wood’ evoking the idea of the ‘family tree’ which Darius says is referenced by that first line of written text.

Another tangential link might be to the 12 tribes ..but here I should backtrack for readers who haven’t read the earlier posts in this series.

Briefly – certain Greek terms proved helpful in understanding how the five elements are shown emerging from what is drawn as ‘wood not shaped in any way’ – to use Isidore’s phrase. To understand the order and relationship in which the drawing presents them, the closest parallel I found was a passage in a fifth-century copy of Mani’s Kephalaia, where he lists 5 ‘elemental’ worlds in order. That order best agreed, in my opinion, with what is seen in the Voynich drawing:

I’m not saying Mani invented his ‘five elements’ system; nor can I say that the fifth-century Coptic copy accurately reproduces the order in his original (3rdC AD) work.

It’s also possible that Mani tweaked some commonly-known system to suit his own theology. So I’m not arguing that the contents of the Voynich manuscript are ‘Manichaean’ in any sense of the word. It may be so but my evidence can’t be said to support an argument of that sort.

What I do say is that if we equate the order of Mani’s 5 ‘elemental’ worlds in that later copy of the Kephalaia with what is present in the drawing, we have the best match that I found from a fairly wide-ranging and theory-free investigation.

So now – a link to Darius’ reading of the Voynichese..

That copy of the Kephalaia is written in Coptic, (a language in which Athenasius Kircher was passionately interested), but the language in which Mani first composed six of his seven known works was Syriac – and Syriac is a language in the family of Aramaic languages.

Darius holds that Voynichese is Biblical Aramaic. I did ask him if he had considered Syriac, and he replied with his reasons for rejecting it. ( April 12, 2023).

Still, it is interesting that the linguistic path taken by Darius, and the path of iconographic analysis which I take, should have brought us both to the early centuries AD, and to languages (verbal and visual) used then in the eastern Mediterranean.

Darius was to provide a longer, if still raw reading of that first line:

“Asenath and the tree of descent generation leafage consents to/accepts to discharge also (from) the Nile law and the bat oath/vow.”

adding notes (asterisks mine)

* The word “leafage” is often used to refer to descendants (see doc “And his leaf shall not wither”). *The second to last word most likely is a “bat” as a synonym for someone who worships an “idol.” This usage can be found in Isaiah 2:20…

Anyone who has done translation work will surely appreciate how the raw word-for-word stage rarely makes much sense; a second stage sees that raw translation rendered in terms more idiomatic.

In fairness to my own readers I must add that I don’t think the passage from Isaiah implies quite what Darius’ suggests.

The verses read:

19 People will flee to caves in the rocks, and to holes in the ground …
20 In that day people will throw away to the moles and bats their idols of silver and idols of gold, which they made to worship.

It may be that terms such as ‘mole’ or ‘bat’ were used as pejoratives in Isaiah’s world. It seems to me, though, that had Isaiah chosen to say the people fled the sea and desert, rather than to caves and holes in the ground, he would have said they threw their idols to “the fishes and foxes.”

Astronomical-Cosmological musing.

The only way I can reconcile Darius’ raw translation with the drawing is to imagine something like this… the unformed ‘wood’ evokes the family ‘tree’ and then Mani’s linking the ‘5’ elemental worlds to the 12-fold zodiac allows further association of the 12-fold zodiac with the 12 tribes, among whom Ephraim and Manasseh were born of Joseph and Aseneth.

Very, very indirect thinking, but not out of keeping with the tangential thinking that you find in much medieval, and most religious, writing.

Even so, the ‘tribe and zodiac sign’ idea is a dead-end. There has never yet been found early evidence for any particular correlation of tribe-and-constellation. One cannot say even when or by whom such a correspondence was first suggested and as I explained in another comment to Darius (April 20th, 4:55), scholars are still debating the matter.


This matter of Mani, Greek influence, Syriac and Biblical Aramaic returns us yet again in studying of the Voynich drawings, to Egypt.

Our earliest extant copies of Mani’s Kephalaia are in Coptic, and came from there. Our earliest extant copy of the Joseph and Aseneth legend was obtained from an ancient monastery in Egypt, one known as the ‘Syrians’ monastery’, and is written in Syriac, the liturgical language of the Syrian churches and of the ‘Nestorian’ Church of the East.

None of this proves Darius’ reading of the Voynichese is correct; it doesn’t prove that any matter now in the Voynich manuscript had come direct from Egypt to wherever-it-was that the quires were inscribed.

What it does show is that my reading of the drawing on folio 77r, and Darius’ reading of the written text are not absolutely inconsistent with each other, and neither is inconsistent with what Georg Baresch said, and what he believed, about the manuscript when he wrote his indignant letter to Kircher in 1635 ( voice transcription fail… should read 1639).

Kircher’ interest in matter gained from Egypt is too well documented to need discussion here.

O’Donovan Notes #13b – an illustration.

Someone who read the previous post commented (at a different blog-site) that he couldn’t understand how I got the idea that any drawings in the Voynich manuscript were of non-western Christian origin. So I thought I’d provide an example of analytical method and show why, in the case of a diagram on folio 77r, the primary document itself obliged me to turn away from the traditionalist ‘all Latin Christian narrative’ – not because I had any theory, but because the testimony of the primary document has highest priority.

The analytical method requires constant reference to texts, and so a few of those I consulted are referenced here.

I have never felt a need to invent any theoretical narrative to explain the manuscript. Such tales have always – ever since 1921 – been advanced before any verifiable evidence, maintained in defiance of clear opposition from the primary document, and vastly exceeded the verifiable evidence when urged upon the wider public. In view of what follows I might say that I do not have a nice, simple ‘Manichean’ story for you, either.

For what follows, the core is the basic analysis published in October 2012.

When I first shared my study of that diagram, in 2011, and identified the drawing’s subject as a 5-element system, I was unaware that Richard Santacoloma had already said he thought the drawing showed a system describing the elements.

Though perceptive readers will soon realise that my work can owe nothing to his, not in methodology, nor sources, nor conclusions reached, I’m happy to say that his perception of the diagram as referring to elements was good.

It is always good to have two workers come independently to comparable conclusions about a problematic item.

To that core – my post of Oct 25, 2012 at 6:00 PM, I have added other notes and comments that were published later in posts or additional comments at Voynichimagery, the ongoing research further refining, and with regard to one detail correcting the basic analysis.

To compensate for the original post having been issued within an unfolding study, I’ve re-written one sentence, and a couple of clauses which became unclear without the post that preceded or was to follow.

I hope readers won’t find it too confusing that I now shift back and forward between that basic analytical commentary of 2012 and the subsequent amplifications.


The short story [October, 2012]

In my opinion, this represents a 5-element system, but not one that includes ether as a separate element.


Note added to the 2012 post. re Richard SantaColoma and his ‘New Atlantis’ blog. (March 30th 2013)

  I first wrote a post about f.77r in 2011. Later in that year – in May 2011 – I heard that Rich Santacoloma had earlier suggested the diagram was a reference to the elements, though he supposed then, and still does, that the system will be the European one.  I left a note on the original post about that difference between our opinions and mentioned his views, but I did not, and do not .agree with his idea that the manuscript shows the western system – for reasons that should be clear from what follows.

Today Rich added a few comments here [i.e. at Voynichimagery] expressing a desire to have my post link not just to his web-page as  I had done, and still prefer to do,  but to his blog. [note added 2023 – the website raised a warning notice today], Since I’m well-known for adding ‘update’ notes to my own blogposts, I’m happy to do as Mr. Santacoloma asks, so here is the link he prefers. It is dated February 10th., 2010.

From the content of my own analytical study (below) I hope readers will be able to see that it owes nothing to Mr. Santacoloma’s writing, but is a product of the present writer’s experience and reference to non-Voynich-centred scholarship. .

On the matter of ‘5 elements’

Many other [i.e. Non-European] systems are five-element ones, including the Chinese ‘5 agencies’, the Hindu, the Turkish, and more. These are no less deserving of consideration among the range of comparisons to be considered, given the various other items of evidence we’ve seen so far that have indicated a non-European origin for a given drawing’s first enunciation.

Once more in this diagram there appears to be influence from the Hellenistic period reflected in their style.

For the Greek terms and for the clear distinction between the system shown in folio 77r and that which applied in the Latin west, I’ve decided to start by referring to Isidore’s text* – chiefly for its parallel use of the Latin with the Greek terms but also to avoid alarming readers who may feel thei comfort-zone ends with medieval western Christian Europe.

*Isidore of Seville, with whose Etymologiae my readers had become familiar by 2012.

On the interaction between Hellenism, Dualism and regions beyond Europe after the 3rdC AD, readers must wait for a subsequent post.

My first post about this drawing on f.77 [in 2011] included much comparative vocabulary that I omit here [i.e. in October 2012].

Ether one of the elements? – no.

Isidore recognised ether as a rarefied form of fire, but is specific about its position and that it does not contribute to the world below. To that extent it was not regarded to that time, in the Latins’ tradition, as one of the ‘elements’:

The ether is the place where the stars are and signifies that fire which is separated high above from the entire world.”

‘The most potent elements’

details from fol 77r (textual portion omitted).

Isidore then turns to the natural world and begins with the two ‘potent’ elements.

The most potent pair of elements for human life are fire and water, whence those to whom fire and water are forbidden are gravely punished.

Etym. XIII.xii.2

That pair, I think, is probably the reason why we see the diagram proper flanked on f.77r by a female and what appears to be a non-gendered male. (which could be our first indication of religious influence, supposing it alluded to Isaiah 53:8  Who shall declare his generation?” and see Naasseni, in Hippolytus Bk.V

Forms given those two figures’ containers agree, too, with Isidore’s assignments: that on the left appears to be modelled on the wall-sconce or  on glass beakers of a type filled with oil and used in that way – fire.

On the right, the container is formed as a bucket or basket from which falls a mixture of water and potent earth (i.e. life-producing water, like the seed-filled and fertile soil brought by flood. The mechanism of reproduction through seed was not entirely understood in earlier times.) But hence ‘water’.


To further clarify the nature of this pair, I was to add the following quotation with its allusion to the Anabibazontes to a later post, published in October 2016 and entitled ‘On the doorstep [Mongols] and things Manichaean’, voynichimagery.wordpress.com (October 31st., 2016).

A Coptic summary of Manichaean doctrine, the Kephalaia, quotes Mani’s teachings on this point. Mani assigns each of the zodiac ’12’ – whether as constellations or the more abstract ‘signs’ of astrology is not clear – to  five ‘worlds’: of ~Smoke, ~Fire, ~Wind, ~Water, and ~Darkness and rather interestingly given that he lived in the 3rdC AD, he also accepts the Roman constellation of the ‘Scales’.

This.. is how it should be understood. They [the twelve zodiacal figures and five planets] are drawn from the Five Worlds of Darkness, are bound in the Sphere, and are taken for each world. The Twins and the Archer belong to the world of Smoke, which is the Mind; Also, the Ram and the Lion belong to the World of Fire. The Bull, the Water-bearer, and he Scales belong to the World of Wind,  The Crab and the Virgin and the Fish belong to the world of Water; the Goat-horn and the Scorpion belong to the World of Darkness. These are the twelve archons of wickedness, for it is they who commit every evil in the world, either in the tree [ule?] or in the flesh.  Hermes belongs to the world of Water, while Kronos belongs to the World of Darkness.  The two Ascendants [anabibazontes][9] belong to fire and lust, which are dryness and moisture, they are the father and mother of all these things. .. [for my reference see the ‘Comment’ posted below this 2023 post]

adding a further comment on November 1st 2016):

Postscript: I may have mis-read the first element motif of ‘wavy lines with scattered dots’. It might – possibly – be meant for Smoke ~ as rising air mixed with burned particles..


returning to the research as published in 2012:

While Isidore’s description of those older Greek ideas is compatible with the diagram as we’ve analysed it so far, overall the maker of the drawing does not appear to have had a conception of the elements identical to the western, and thus like Isidore’s. 

I don’t think the diagram on f.77 is an illustration of the Etymologies  so much as an illustration of some accepted and local ‘5-elements’ system that is being assumed within an education system no less infused by respect for the same classical and Greek sources. Some possibilities will be listed further below.

 Isidore’s regularly referring to both Greek and the  Latin vocabulary, and explaining both, means that the Latin tradition maintained some knowledge of Greek from that time. The Etymologies was so widely used and copied that it is often compared with the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and its information being disseminated as standard opinion, it filtered through scholars and clerics to the lay population.

The diagram proper – Primary matter: ‘the wood’

Where we speak of the  ‘basic fabric’ or the ‘building blocks’ of the material world, the Greek term for the raw material of all things was  ΰλη, which – like this diagram – evokes the idea of a tree’s body, unshaped, but from which those elements [Lat. elementum] emerge.  The Greek term was not elementum, but  stoikeia.

(April 3rd 2012- cf. architectural and philosophical associations for terms stoa; stoic)

Isidore says:

The Greeks call a certain primary material of things ΰλη (‘matter’ also ‘wood’) which is not formed in any way.

and he goes on:

 From this ΰλη the visible elements (Lat: elementum) are formed, whence they took their name, [Gk stoikeia: elements] for they agree with [Gk: stoikein] each other in a certain accord and communion of association.

In conception, then, this diagram does seem to reflect an influence from those Greek philosophical terms, though not from the Latin.

At the same time, it includes five elements, not four, and shows fire second from highest which, to judge from al-Biruni’s comments (see below) agrees with the situation in tenth-century Baghdad.

[note added April 7th., 2023. For further information and insights into this issue, I recommend the work of a remarkable scholar whose videos on youtube include ones discussing Baghdad before the Mongols’ destruction of the city late in the thirteenth century. The videos can be found under the site ‘Let’s Talk Religion’. I cannot recommend them highly enough. Here I might say that earlier this year (2023) I have found reason to consider the period of al Ma’mun worth closer attention; not so much for a cartographic project he sponsored, but for a particular system of measures employed.]

I think, then, that this diagram on folio 77r is not designed to illustrate Isidore’s text, nor probably any system used in Roman times.

Some points of distinction between the diagram’s form and Isidore’s understanding of the Greek elements system:

Where Isidore explains the Greek stoichaea with an almost anthropomorphic sense of the four elements’ interactions and harmonious relationship, the Voynich diagram takes the term to mean rather that five elements have emerged from that formless ‘wood’  not as living things might, in amity, but as non-living things  equal simply in terms of time and distance: the time of emergence for all being contemporary indicated, I think, by the equal length of these short branchings.

Nor does the relationship of the five match Isidore’s understanding of that amity. Because Isidore’s understanding is that aether has no place in the world inhabited by mankind, it plays no part in his explanation of earthly substances, all of which are formed from the four.

 “Indeed [they] are said to be connected thus among themselves with a certain natural logic, now returning to their origin, from fire to earth, now from earth to fire: since fire ends in air, and air is condensed into water, and water thickens into earth and [then], in turn, earth is loosened into water, water rarefied into air, and air thinned out into fire”.

Etymologiae XIII.iii.1-6

Now try as I might –  and though I feel fairly certain that the second element from the right is fire and, further, that the elements in the centre of the ‘wood’ and that nearest the fiery principal (not principle) might [at a pinch] between them be interpreted as air and ether, yet no correspondence exists in the drawing to the way in which Isidore himself explains the four elements’ relationship. The diagram speaks to a different scheme, order and relations.

Even if one were to imagine – as Isidore and the western world normally did not – that ether and its radiance (aether) contributed to the composition of the natural world, still the order and relationships shown by the diagram do not co-incide with his.*

*para edited for clarity.

[so now we turn to investigating various 5-elements systems, to see which may be relevant to the Voynich drawings..]

Some 5-elements systems in the east. [This section was much shortened for the 2012 post]

1. Chinese

2. Indian (Hindu)

 3. Islamic

          Al Biruni brought knowledge of India’s  Hindu elements, which he described as being:

 Heaven; Wind; Fire; Water; Earth,

and he says, quite specifically, that none of the Hindu elements equates to the Greeks’ “aether”. The point is relevant point, since in more recent times there has been a tendency to refer to aether in interpreting the term Akasha.

 Writing in the tenth century, he explains in his India:

 “Heaven, Wind, Fire, Water and Earth are the Hindu’s five elements. They are called the mahabuta i.e. having great natures. The Hindus do not think, as other people do, that the fire is a hot, dry body near the bottom of the ether. They understand by fire the common fire on earth which comes from an inflammation of smoke.

The Vayu Purana says, ‘In the beginning were earth, water, wind and heaven. Brahman, on seeing sparks under the earth, brought them forward, and divided them into three parts: the first, Parthiva, is the common fire, which requires wood and is extinguished by water; the second is divya i.e. the sun; the third vidyut i.e. the lightning. The sun attracts the water..”

Sachau, Al Biruni’s ‘India’, Chapter III (v-ix).

4. Manichaean.

Five is a number of fundamental importance to Manichaean systems, including cosmology. A great deal of information about Manichaean thought is available online, (e.g. this site) but for its style of script, I add links to the very important  Cologne Mani Codex, found at Lycopolis in Egypt and a comparative example of cursive script in an early Christian codex [link dead in 2023] from  Oxyrhinchus.[Link dead in 2023]

5. Buddhist

6. Turk

.. and others.


Not mentioned was an important reference which contains a a useful table (p.64).

  • Zsuzsanna Gulácsi, Medieval Manichaean Book Art: A Codicological Study of. Iranian and Turkic Illuminated Book Fragments from 8th–11th Century East. Central Asia, (Nag Hammadi & Manichaean Studies), Stephen Emmel, Johannes van Oort (Eds.), volume 57, Leiden-Boston: “Brill Academic Publishers” (2005).
  • Another I’d recommend for those interested in central European Asian sects and beliefs is Gnosis on the Silk Road.
  • The links between earlier medieval dualism outside Europe and ‘Manicheans’ in later medieval Europe are discussed in a great number of books and papers. For those to whom the whole subject is new, two books in English that are not new but easily found and still respected:
  • Steven Runciman, The Medieval Manichee
  • Yuri Stoyanov, The Hidden Tradition in Europe: the secret history of medieval Christian heresy.