Journal of Early Christian Studies
Volume 13, Number 3, Fall 2005
Porphyry on Christians and Others: "Barbarian Wisdom," Identity Politics, and Anti-Christian Polemics on the Eve of the Great Persecution [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Porphyry, ca. 234-ca. 305. Against the Christians.
Christianity -- Controversial literature -- History and criticism.
Persecution -- History -- Early church, ca. 30-600.
This paper argues that we can better appreciate the motivations behind Porphyry of Tyre's anti-Christian polemics if they are placed in the context of his larger philosophical project. Porphyry's investigations of "foreign" religions and philosophies were based on asymmetrical distinctions between Greeks and barbarians that paralleled, and in many cases dovetailed with, the division of the Roman Empire into metropolitan center and provincial periphery. Christian intellectuals, however, imitated Porphyry's project in ways that disrupted these distinctions. Porphyry's polemics were motivated by a need to contain the threat that this disruption posed to the social and material privilege he enjoyed as a Greek philosopher in the Roman Empire. By situating Porphyry's polemics in the contexts of imperial power and subjugation, this paper challenges the divisions between "philosophical" and "political" fields of knowledge and action that underlie many discussions of political and religious change in late antiquity.
Knowledge, Theory of (Religion) -- History of doctrines -- Early church, ca. 30-600.
Authority -- Religious aspects -- Christianity -- History of doctrines -- Early church, ca. 30-600.
Peter, the Apostle, Saint.
The Pseudo-Clementines are important texts in their own right, not mere repositories of earlier Christian sources. Analysis of one layer of the Recognitions, known as the "romance of recognitions," reveals that it is part of a narrative argument about knowledge and authority related to the Recognitions' larger polemical agenda: along with other parts of the story line, it shows that the Apostle Peter has supreme authority because of his knowledge of human and divine things. This insistence on Peter's authority makes sense in light of the Recognitions' fourth-century Syrian context, where Christians devoted to Peter's memory competed with other religious groups.
This essay shifts the locus of meaning-making from painter and painting toward the viewer, specifically with reference to paintings in the Hypogeum on Via Dino Compagni. I argue that a viewer seeing paintings simultaneously or in series would sense conversations between pictures, in part because the process of linking pictures is analogous to the linking of disparate scriptural texts in homiletic practice. Approaching the closely juxtaposed paintings of Hercules, Moses, and Christ from this dialogical perspective allows us to characterize their relationship more richly than describing it as either syncretistic or conflictual.