This book collects and publishes the papers delivered at an international conference held at Lyon in October 2005 in association with the publication of an edition of book XVI of the Theodosian Code in the series Sources Chrétiennes. Contributions in other languages have been translated into French. A useful composite bibliography has been compiled, but no index is provided, which would have facilitated the use of the book, since several laws are discussed, or at least cited, by several different contributors. [End Page 93]
As with many such publications, this is a very mixed bag both in quality and style, varying from wide-ranging, rather general essays and useful research contributions to specific problems raised by groups of laws. Unfortunately, not all contributors are conversant with recent research on the Code (largely in English), which endeavors to set each law in the historical context of the time of its issue, not the time of its incorporation into the Code. This ignorance weakens several arguments—in particular, the widely recognized contingent character of Theodosius's edict to the people of Constantinople known as Cunctos populos (CTh 16.1.2) is often ignored and the text therefore unhistorically claimed as having made Nicene orthodoxy "state religion" (whatever that might have meant at the time).
The first major section of the book, "The Christianization of Power," is in this respect the weakest section. François Richard argues that the Church had always regarded itself as the sole religious source of blessings for the state, which Constantine merely accepted; Elio Dovere establishes the increasing use of conciliar argument in legislation after 435; and Emmanuel Soler discusses the use of the term catholic in the laws of the Theodosian dynasty. Gian Luigi Falchi argues unconvincingly that the Roman Empire could be called a "confessional state" before Constantine, but that the "Edict of Milan" (which he overinterprets) made the state neutral ("laic"), only to become confessional again under Theodosius, thanks to Cunctos populos (which he also misinterprets). Laurent Guichard, who examines the style of Valentinian I, ignores the objection that emperors did not write their own laws and reaches the harmless conclusion that the quiet style reflects Valentinian's quiet policy. Christel Freu discusses the rhetoric associated with the contrasting pair rich-poor in some laws of the period, and Béatrice Caseau investigates the use of profanus. Josep Vilella examines at great length two canons of the pseudo-council of Elvira, and the section ends with Richard Pusa's rather superficial and incomplete review of some recent work on the Code.
Sections 2 and 3 are concerned with some of the concrete historical problems emerging from individual laws, or groups of laws, and it is here that the main substantive value of the book lies. Important subjects treated include the growth of the ecclesiastical patrimony (Carles Buenacasa Pérez), the fiscal privileges of the Church (Roland Delmaire), the audientia episcopalis (Olivier Huck), the Christian calendar and the Games (Angelo Di Berardino), Constantine's creation of a workfree Sunday (Klaus Martin Girardet), Christian influence on legislation relating to women (Patrick Laurence), the language used to describe heretics and its specific function (Victoria Escribano Paño), the exclusion of Jews from public office (Capucine Nemo-Pekelman), munera publica and the Church (Claude Lepelley), Theodosius's defence of orthodoxy (Antonella Di Mauro Todini), and the legislation concerning apostasy (Andrea Cococcia). These are all systematic and up-to-date contributions to important subjects, which together make the book worth perusing and incorporating in a patristic library. [End Page 94]