Christians and Their Many Identities in Late Antiquity, North Africa, 200–450 CE
Publication Year: 2012
For too long, the study of religious life in Late Antiquity has relied on the premise that Jews, pagans, and Christians were largely discrete groups divided by clear markers of belief, ritual, and social practice. More recently, however, a growing body of scholarship is revealing the degree to which identities in the late Roman world were fluid, blurred by ethnic, social, and gender differences. Christianness, for example, was only one of a plurality of identities available to Christians in this period.
In Christians and Their Many Identities in Late Antiquity, North Africa, 200-450 CE, Éric Rebillard explores how Christians in North Africa between the age of Tertullian and the age of Augustine were selective in identifying as Christian, giving salience to their religious identity only intermittently. By shifting the focus from groups to individuals, Rebillard more broadly questions the existence of bounded, stable, and homogeneous groups based on Christianness. In emphasizing that the intermittency of Christianness is structurally consistent in the everyday life of Christians from the end of the second to the middle of the fifth century, this book opens a whole range of new questions for the understanding of a crucial period in the history of Christianity.
Published by: Cornell University Press
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Title Page, Copyright Pages
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...in the very congenial and productive context of the program Les identités religieuses dans les mondes grec et romain d’Alexandre à Justinien, directed by Nicole Belayche and Simon Mimouni (Paris, 2001–2005). Mark Vessey’s invi-tation to contribute a chapter to his Companion to Augustine came at the right time to set me back to work on the topic of being Christian in late antiquity. ...
Note on Primary Sources
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Linguae Latinae for Latin texts and of the Diccionario Griego-Español (DGE) for Greek texts. Translations are mine unless otherwise acknowledged in the notes....
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Christians are now increasingly understood as a discursive construct, part of the making of a Christian identity (see, among others, Lieu 2004, Kahlos 2007, and Perkins 2009), and therefore it has become apparent that on-the-ground confes-sional identities are less important than contemporary sources state. However, our view of the realities beyond the discursive structures has not yet been thoroughly ...
1. Setting the Stage: Carthage at the End of the Second Century
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Barnes notes: “It can surely be no accident that Tertullian’s three earliest extant works are De Spectaculis, De Idololatria and what appears in modern editions as the second book of De Cultu Feminarum. All three address them-selves to similar problems: how ought Christians to live out a life of faith in a pagan society?” (1985: 93). To present the conciliation of Christian faith ...
2. Persecution and the Limits of Religious Allegiance
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...succession of periods of persecution and periods of peace corresponding to the reigns of different emperors. However, Eusebius’s view of these events is skewed by his contemporary circumstances, and his narrative of the persecu-tions is, as a result, distorted by a number of erroneous assumptions (Barnes 1985: 149). There is now general agreement among historians that before the ...
3. Being Christian in the Age of Augustine
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...as bishop of Hippo in 395 (for the date, see Lancel 2002: 184–185). The status of Christians in the Roman Empire has changed greatly in the interim. By this time Christianity has been legal in North Africa for nearly a hundred years, a fact that, as Augustine reminds his audience (serm. 62.15), makes a crucial difference to Christians’ standing in the Empire. In several texts, he ...
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...experience in all of their interactions is not in itself an unexpected conclu-sion. Nevertheless, I think that it has been fruitful to focus specifically on the intermittency of Christian religious identity, as this has typically been underemphasized in early Christian studies. In the preceding chapters, my goal was not to show that Christians enjoyed “normal” day-to-day relations ...
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Page Count: 144
Publication Year: 2012