1-4 of 4 Results

  • Keywords: paganism x
Clear all

Article

Gregory D. Wiebe

The background of early Christian demonology was in both Hebrew and Greek culture. Jews associated the Greek word daimōn with the false gods of the surrounding nations. This was in many ways an intuitive application of the Greek term. It carried the sense of ambivalent divine or semi-divine power, which significant philosophical traditions understood to mediate between humans and gods. The New Testament carries this theme, though its focus is more on Christ’s exorcisms of demons, and his gift of that power to his disciples, with the early church tying the two together in the theological literature, as well as baptismal exorcisms and renunciations of the devil and idolatry.Demons were widely thought to have aerial bodies, which allowed them to perform various marvels, like foretelling the future. They were ultimately taken to be fallen angels with Satan as their leader, though this was not a given early in the tradition. While the Christian understanding was that Christ had defeated them on the cross, this was not taken to preclude the ongoing influence of demons in human affairs prior to the final judgement. Indeed, they constituted a significant moral problem for the Christian life, which absolutely opposed them. For Christians, Christ and the demons were the two sides of the fundamental dilemma of every human soul. The problem of demons manifested differently depending on the context, whether in its encounter with false religion, from idolatry to the persecutions the gods inspired; or in the innumerable tempting thoughts encountered in the pursuit of ascetic discipline.

Article

Michele Renee Salzman

The Latin word paganus (pagan), which originally meant “a country district or community,” could take on a more general sense as “a place with fixed boundaries.” From this early meaning, paganus evolved to mean civilian as opposed to military. Its application by Christians to those who were not of their faith has been explained variously. Some scholars derive its Christian usage based on the association of pagans with the countryside, while others see Christians using the term for the civilians as opposed to “soldiers of Christ.” Only in the 4th century do the words pagan and paganism (paganismus) emerge with the general meaning of “non-Christian.” Some scholars dispute the pejorative nature of the term at this date, but non-Christians were increasingly attacked by hostile 4th-century Christian writers. Because of this enmity and due to the misleading denigration of non-Christians as pagans, some modern scholars have refused to use the term pagan or paganism in their works. Others, however, view its usage as justified, especially given the hostility of late Roman Christians to non-believers.

Article

Vettius Agorius Praetextatus was a learned Roman senator (c. 320–384 ce). He is usually remembered as the leading proponent of Graeco-Roman religious tradition (paganism) during the late Roman Empire.Vettius Agorius Praetextatus was a Roman senator (c. 320–384 ce). He was a learned aristocrat who never converted to Christianity even though the Christianisation of the Roman aristocracy was already in gradual process during his lifetime, and by the end of the century, in the years after his death, the Roman aristocracy as a whole had become Christian (at least nominally). Praetextatus is usually remembered as the leading proponent of Graeco-Roman religious tradition (paganism) during the late Roman Empire. He was a friend and correspondent of the orator Q. Aurelius Symmachus. Symmachus’ epist. 1.44–55 are addressed to him.1Praetextatus held the high offices of praefectus urbi in 367–368 ce and praefectus praetorio in 384; when he died in that year, he had been designated consul for the following year. A few laws extant in the Theodosian Code (8.14.1; 9.40.10; 14.4.4; 6.35.7; 13.3.8; 1.6.6) are addressed to him as .

Article

Matthew R. Crawford

Serving as bishop of Alexandria from 412 until his death in 444, Cyril was one of the two most influential episcopal leaders of the city during Late Antiquity, second only to Athanasius in terms of his involvement in ecclesiastical politics and his significance as an authority for later Christian traditions. His career was marked by attempts to oppose Jews, pagans, and Christians whose theology he regarded as contrary to the Nicene faith. In pursuit of this goal he proved to be a politically savvy tactician, as well as a rhetorically and intellectually powerful polemicist in pamphlets, letters, florilegia, and treatises. He was also an effective bishop who exhibited pastoral concern for the organization and vitality of the Egyptian church as well as its unity with other churches throughout the empire.Details of Cyril’s early life are murky. All that survives are much later reports that may not be accurate, such as the claim that he spent five years in the Nitrian desert receiving instruction from the ascetic Serapion (Severus ibn al-Muqaffa‘, .