Christianity, Empire, and the Making of Religion in Late Antiquity

Overview

In Christianity, Empire, and the Making of Religion in Late Antiquity, Jeremy M. Schott examines the ways in which conflicts between Christian and pagan intellectuals over religious, ethnic, and cultural identity contributed to the transformation of Roman imperial rhetoric and ideology in the early fourth century C.E. During this turbulent period, which began with Diocletian's persecution of the Christians and ended with Constantine's assumption of sole rule and the consolidation of a new Christian empire, ...

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Overview

In Christianity, Empire, and the Making of Religion in Late Antiquity, Jeremy M. Schott examines the ways in which conflicts between Christian and pagan intellectuals over religious, ethnic, and cultural identity contributed to the transformation of Roman imperial rhetoric and ideology in the early fourth century C.E. During this turbulent period, which began with Diocletian's persecution of the Christians and ended with Constantine's assumption of sole rule and the consolidation of a new Christian empire, Christian apologists and anti-Christian polemicists launched a number of literary salvos in a battle for the minds and souls of the empire.

Schott focuses on the works of the Platonist philosopher and anti- Christian polemicist Porphyry of Tyre and his Christian respondents: the Latin rhetorician Lactantius, Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea, and the emperor Constantine. Previous scholarship has tended to narrate the Christianization of the empire in terms of a new religion's penetration and conquest of classical culture and society. The present work, in contrast, seeks to suspend the static, essentializing conceptualizations of religious identity that lie behind many studies of social and political change in late antiquity in order to investigate the processes through which Christian and pagan identities were constructed. Drawing on the insights of postcolonial discourse analysis, Schott argues that the production of Christian identity and, in turn, the construction of a Christian imperial discourse were intimately and inseparably linked to the broader politics of Roman imperialism.

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Editorial Reviews

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"Jeremy M. Schott has done a masterful job of elucidating the points of connection—even debate—between Porphyry of Tyre, Lactantius, Constantine, and Eusebius. These men were the most prominent participants in the conversations, debates, and policies that guided Rome's transformations from pagan to Christian state. How their ideas respond to one another has, until now, not been satisfactorily mapped out."—Elizabeth Digeser, University of California, Santa Barbara

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Jeremy M. Schott teaches religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
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Table of Contents


Introduction: Identity Politics in the Later Roman Empire     1
Philosophers, Apologists, and Empire     15
Porphyry on Greeks, Christians, and Others     52
Vera Religio and Falsae Religiones: Lactantius's Divine Institutes     79
What Difference Does an Emperor Make? Apologetics and Imperial Ideology in Constantine's Oration to the Saints and Imperial Letters     110
From Hebrew Wisdom to Christian Hegemony: Eusebius of Caesarea's Apologetics and Panegyrics     136
Epilogue: Empire's Palimpsest     166
Porphyry's Polemics and the Great Persecution     177
List of Abbreviations     187
Notes     191
Bibliography     233
Index     247
Acknowledgments     253
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