1-20 of 144 Results  for:

  • Christianity x
Clear all

Article

Christopher Rowland

The second of two volumes which continues the story of the rise and spread of *Christianity begun in the gospel of Luke. Its textual history poses peculiar interpretative problems as it is extant in two versions, the longer in Codex Bezae. Its narrative starts with Jesus' ascension in Jerusalem and ends with *Paul preaching in Rome, where he had been taken after his appeal to Caesar (i.e. the emperor). The focus of the material on the earliest Jerusalem church around Peter and, later in the book, on the Christian career of Paul shows the concern of the author to relate the Jewish and Gentile missions and to demonstrate their basic unity. Only occasional glimpses are offered of the conflict in early Christianity which is evident in the Pauline corpus (e.g. Acts 6: 1 and 15). Acts has for a long time been a cause of great controversy between those who maintain the substantial authenticity of its historical account (while allowing for its apologetic interests) and those who see the document as a work of skilful narrative propaganda whose historical value is negligible. Knowledge of contemporary Graeco-Roman institutions should not mask the difficulties in accepting the historicity of Acts, a particular problem being the reconciliation of the accounts of Paul's career in Acts, Galatians 1 & 2, and the Corinthian correspondence. The references to Paul's theology indicate a markedly different set of ideas from what we find in the letters to the Romans and Galatians. For this and other reasons Acts has proved to be disappointing to the historian of Christian origins as a source for early Christian history. The history of the Jerusalem church after the start of the Pauline mission is only touched on in so far as it helps the author explain Paul's career as apostle to the Gentiles. Whereas Luke's gospel portrays Jesus as a Palestinian prophet with a controversial, indeed subversive, message for Jewish society, there is little in Acts (apart from the idealized accounts of the common life of the Jerusalem church) of that radicalism. The antagonism to *Jews and the sympathetic account of Roman officials evident in the gospel of Luke is continued in Acts, and a conciliatory attitude towards Rome has been suggested.

Article

What makes Alexander Great? His story has captured the imagination of authors, artists, philosophers, and politicians across more than two millennia. He has provided a point of convergence for religious and spiritual thinkers, he has been co-opted as a champion for gender and sexual openness, he represents a paradigm for would-be charismatic dictators (and their opponents), he gives us scientific imperialism and justification for conquistadorial dreaming, and he exemplifies the risks of cultural appropriation. To understand why Alexander resonates so widely across so many different fields of study, interest groups, and media, is an exercise in reception. This Alexander who has captured the imagination is triumphantly equivocal and it is in the plurality of traditions through which this complexity is expressed that his enduring “greatness” lies. The imaginary quality of Alexander is unsurprising because more profoundly than for any comparable individual from classical antiquity, his history is a product of reception from the start: every encounter with Alexander the Great is part of a conversation that depends substantially on accounts and narrative evidence from long after his death, and at the least at one remove from the historians who first and contemporaneously chronicled his life and achievements.

Article

Philip Rousseau

Ambrose (Ambrosius), son of a praetorian prefect of Gaul, Ambrose was well educated and achieved official success under the patronage of the great prefects Sex. Claudius *Petronius Probus and Q. Aurelius *Symmachus (2). Until his early death, his brother Uranius Satyrus showed equal promise. His sister Marcellina became well known for her practice of consecrated virginity, dating from the time of Liberius, bishop of Rome (ce 352–66). Ambrose was appointed governor of Aemilia and Liguria in 374. Already experienced, therefore, in the affairs of Milan (Mediolanum), he was chosen to be the city's bishop in the same year, while intervening in what had become a disputed election. He died in 397 (see Paulinus of Milan, Life of St Ambrose 3–5 for his early career and, more generally, PLRE 1. 52 ‘Ambrosius’ 3).Ambrose is famous for his confrontations with the emperor *Theodosius (2) I.

Article

Wolfram Kinzig

(i.e. pseudo-Ambrose), the author of the Commentary on Thirteen Pauline Letters (except Hebrews) handed down under the name of *Ambrose. Attempts at identifying the author have not yet yielded conclusive results. The commentary was written under Pope *Damasus (ce 366–84) in Rome and is regarded as an important witness to the Latin text of St *Paul prior to the *Vulgate and as an instructive example for the pre-Augustinian interpretation of Paul. The pseudo-Augustinian Quaestiones Veteris et Novi Testamenti probably also come from his pen. In addition, some minor texts have been attributed to this author.

Article

Samuel Rubenson

Among the first generations of the Egyptian monastic movement of the 4th century ce, Antonius, generally referred to as Saint Antony, stands out as the most important and best documented figure. The traditional dating of his birth to 251 ce is based solely on the statement in his biography that he died at the age of 105 years (Vit. Ant. 89.3), and the note in Jerome’s chronicle that he died in 356 ce (Chron. ad annum 356). There is no reason to doubt the latter date, as it is also confirmed by a letter of Serapion to his disciples.1 It is, however, unlikely that the author of the biography, or anyone else, knew his age at the time of death. What is evident from a number of sources is that Antony was a highly influential senior monk in the 330s ce, and thus most probably born sometime before 280. In addition to his year of death, the only dates that can be corroborated by sources independent of the biography are a visit to Alexandria in 337, also noted in the Syriac index to Athanasius’s festal letters,2 and a visit to him by the disciples of Pachomius in 346, mentioned in the Life of Pachomius (Vit.

Article

Wolfram Kinzig

The modern collective term appears to go back to F. Morel (Corpus Apologetarum, 1615) and P. Maran (1742; cf. PG 6). The idea as such, however, is much older, as can be seen from the codex Paris. gr. 451 (written in 914 by the scribe Baanes by order of Arethas, archbishop of *Caesarea (1) in Cappadocia) which contains a collection of apologetic writings. The term designates a number of Christian Greek and Latin authors of the 2nd and early 3rd cents. who defended the Christian faith against attacks from their pagan contemporaries. Apologists in this sense, whose writings are partly or fully preserved, are Quadratus, Aristides, *Justin Martyr, *Tatian, *Melito, *Athenagoras, and *Theophilus (3) of Antioch, who all wrote in Greek, and the Latin authors *Minucius Felix and *Tertullian. Nothing is left of the works of Miltiades and Apollinaris of Hierapolis. They all wrote at a time when the legal position of the new religious groups was unclear and the Christians were under continuous threat from their *pagan environment (see christianity).

Article

Theodore John Cadoux and P. J. Rhodes

Areopagus, the ‘Hill of Ares’ (Ἄρειος πάγος) at *Athens, north-west of the Acropolis, and the ancient council associated with it. There are no substantial remains on the hill; the council's meeting-place may have been on a terrace on the north-east side rather than on the summit. Probably the council was called simply boulē (‘council’) at first, and was named after the hill when a second council from which it had to be distinguished was created, probably by *Solon.In early Athens the membership of the council will have been aristocratic. By the time of Solon, if not earlier, it came to comprise all ex-archons (see archontes), who entered it at the end of their year of office and remained members for the rest of their lives. The annual entry of nine new members in middle life maintained a strength of about 150. Changes in recruitment depended on changes in the recruitment of the archons: based on wealth rather than family from the time of *Solon; including the *zeugitai, the third property class, from 457/6 bce; and no longer attracting the men with the highest political ambitions from the first half of the 5th cent.

Article

David M. Gwynn

Arianism, the polemical term used to describe a wide spectrum of 4th-cent. Christian theological beliefs that subordinated God the Son to God the Father. The name derives from the presbyter *Arius, whose teachings were condemned at the council of *Nicaea (1) (325), where the Son was affirmed as homoousios (‘of the same substance’) as the Father. Arius himself exerted little influence on subsequent debates, and no contemporary Christians referred to themselves as ‘Arian’. However, the Nicene formula was regarded with suspicion by many eastern bishops for failing to distinguish the individual identities of Father and Son within the Trinity (a heresy known as Monarchianism or Sabellianism). This distrust was expressed strongly at the council of *Antioch (1) (341), and during the mid-4th cent. a number of alternative doctrines emerged, including those who taught that the Son was anomoios (‘unlike’), homoios (‘like’), or homoiousios (‘of like substance’) to the Father.

Article

John Norman Davidson Kelly and David M. Gwynn

Remembered as the great heresiarch of the 4th-cent. Church. Probably Libyan by birth, he became a leading presbyter at *Alexandria (1), but in 318 or 320/1 came into conflict with his bishop Alexander for teaching the subordination of the Son to the Father within the Trinity. He was expelled from Egypt and, although supported by several prominent bishops including Eusebius of Nicomedia and Eusebius of Caesarea, Arius was condemned at the council of *Nicaea (1) (325). Although rehabilitated in c.335, Arius died shortly afterwards in a Constantinople latrine. The heresy of *‘Arianism’ is named after him, but in fact Arius and his teachings exerted little influence on 4th-cent. theological debates after Nicaea. Only a few letters and some fragments of his Thalia (verse and prose popularizations of his doctrines) survive, confirming that Arius did not deny the Son’s divinity, but reduced Him to a created being inferior to God the Father.

Article

William Hugh Clifford Frend and M. J. Edwards

Arnobius, a teacher of rhetoric at *Sicca Veneria in Proconsular Numidia, said by *Jerome to have taught *Lactantius and to have suddenly become a Christian (c.295); see christianity. A year or two later, at his bishop's instance, he wrote seven books, Adversus nationes, as a proof of full conversion. He attacked those who argued, like the later opponents of Augustine, that ‘ever since the Christians have been on earth, the world has gone to ruin’ (Adv. nat. 1. 1), and that Christ was a mortal magician, not superior to *Apollonius (12) of Tyana or *Zoroaster (1. 52–3). His answer, although conventional in tenor, is not so in content, since he amasses much valuable antiquarian learning, designed to prove that Roman institutions were subject to change, and that therefore Christianity was not bad because it was new. Incidentally he reveals something of pagan beliefs current in Africa. He does not look for prefigurement of the Gospel even in the Old Testament. His attack on the viri novi in book 2 shows him abreast of recent developments in Platonism (see neoplatonism); but, while he cites several dialogues and applauds *Plato (1)'s notion of God, he (characteristically) rejects the hypothesis of innate ideas.

Article

Blossom Stefaniw

The literary tradition portrays Arsenius as a particularly stringent and austere man who was formed as a monk at Sketis, near Alexandria. It is probable that his reputation in his own day was much greater than the scope allowed him in the modern reception of the desert tradition, which tends to focus on other figures like Antony the Great. While we cannot independently verify his date of birth or death or his precise movements and deeds during his life, the traditional story of Arsenius remains important as a depository of key elements from the ascetic tradition, such as the relationships between different ethnic and social groups within ascetic communities, the abba and disciple system of ascetic formation, and teachings on compunction, pure prayer, and extreme austerities.Arsenius is believed to have been born to an aristocratic family in Rome around the year 354 and to have committed himself to an ascetic life as a young man. He moved to Constantinople in 383 and is said to have tutored the Emperor Theodosius’ sons (Arcadius and Honorius) while there.

Article

Philip Rousseau and M. J. Edwards

“Discipline” is the common translation of the Greek noun askêsis. Its English derivative “asceticism” denotes a sustained routine of abstinence, more severe than the occasional self-denial which was enjoined before rites and festivals. Motives for such austerity were seldom religious: sexual continence was enjoined on particular orders like the Vestal Virgins, but not on Jewish or polytheistic priesthoods. Philosophers were more likely to adopt a lifelong regimen to maintain their equanimity or free the soul from bodily attachments. Thus Epicureans and certain Platonists shunned the ties of marriage, though absolute continence was not prescribed. Pythagoreans starved the concupiscent element of the soul by abstaining from meat (and thereby also spared themselves the guilt of shedding the blood of a kindred being). Diogenes the Cynic set an example of self-sufficiency which was sometimes hyperbolically imitated and sometimes ostentatiously violated by his followers. Among Jews the nomadic Rechabites drank no wine, while Nazirites neither drank wine nor cut their hair; but only in the Hellenistic era do we hear of Essenes whose frugal regimen precluded meat and the knowledge of women. Philo’s treatise on the Therapeutae attests the cohabitation of male and female celibates in a community devoted to prayer and worship. It is, however, in Christian circles that abstinence is first prescribed as a norm for all and not merely for the elect. Jesus had “nowhere to lay his head”, while Paul declared virginity superior to marriage. Their teachings presupposed the imminent and of the world; abstinence from flesh and sexual intercourse was said to imply contempt for all things created in encratites, Marcionites and Manichees, yet orthodox Christians also held that the clergy should not take wives after ordination, and Eusebius commends the rigorous practices of Origen.

Article

John Norman Davidson Kelly and David M. Gwynn

Athanasius was one of the greatest fathers of the 4th-century Church. As a deacon he attended the council of *Nicaea (1) (325), and in 328 he was appointed bishop of *Alexandria (1). Athanasius faced immediate opposition from the Meletian Schism within Egypt, and particularly from those whom he regarded as supporters of *“Arianism”, the heresy condemned at Nicaea. These conflicts caused Athanasius to be exiled from his see on five separate occasions, but he never ceased to defend his conception of Christian orthodoxy, and became the foremost champion of the Nicene doctrine that Father and Son were consubstantial (homoousios). He also developed the doctrine of the full divinity of the Holy Spirit, promoted the spread of monasticism, notably through his Life of Antony, and greatly enhanced the power and prestige of the Alexandrian see. Athanasius’ surviving writings include apologetic, dogmatic, and ascetic treatises, and a number of letters.

Article

St Augustine (Aurelius Augustinus (354–430 ce), was born at Thagaste (mod. Souk Ahras, Algeria), son of Patricius, a modest town councillor of pagan beliefs, and a dominant Catholic mother, Monica. Educated at Thagaste, *Madauros, and Carthage, he taught rhetoric at Thagaste, Carthage, and Rome and (384–6) as public orator at Milan, then the capital of the emperor Valentinian II. Patronized at Rome by *Symmachus (2), the pagan orator, he hoped, by an advantageous marriage (to which he sacrificed his concubine, the mother of a son, Adeodatus—d. c.390) to join the ‘aristocracy of letters’ typical of his age (see ausonius). At 19, however, he had read the Hortensius of *Cicero. This early ‘conversion to philosophy’ was the prototype of successive conversions: to *Manichaeism, a Gnostic sect promising Wisdom, and, in 386, to a Christianized *Neoplatonism patronized by *Ambrose, bishop of Milan. Catholicism, for Augustine, was the ‘Divine Philosophy’, a Wisdom guaranteed by authority but explored by reason: ‘Seek and ye shall find’, the only scriptural citation in his first work, characterizes his life as a thinker.

Article

Bishop of Vienne, from c.490 ce. A member of the powerful family of the Aviti, he succeeded his father, Hesychius, as bishop. His brother, Apollinaris, was bishop of Valence. He was related to (perhaps nephew of) *Sidonius Apollinaris. He contributed significantly to religious debate in the kingdom of the *Burgundians, whose kings, Gundobad and Sigismund, he advised. Under Sigismund he oversaw the conversion of the kingdom from *Arianism to orthodoxy. He was also a fine poet, writing a Biblical epic (De Spiritalis historiae gestis), and a lengthy poem on virginity, which has much to say about the female saints of his family. He died 5th February 518.

Article

Philip Rousseau

Basil of Caesarea (*Cappadocia), c. 330–79 ce (the dates are debated but not disproved). He is honoured as the chief architect of monastic life in the Greek Church. His early education was completed at Athens, where he came under the influence of *Himerius and *Prohaeresius. He was also instructed briefly by *Libanius. Those experiences marked him out for a teaching career, upon which he may have embarked. However, the influence of Eustathius of Sebaste and of travel in the eastern provinces inclined him to the practice of asceticism, which he undertook in the company of his friend *Gregory (2) of Nazianzus. His education bore fruit, nevertheless, in his Address to Young Men, which discussed the adaptation of the classical curriculum to Christian use and enjoyed lasting influence. His ascetic experience was distilled chiefly in his Long Rules and Short Rules.A growing interest in Church affairs drew him into the moderate party of Basil of Ancyra and encouraged him in lifelong loyalty to Meletius of Antioch. Within the general context of the Arian controversy, those associations made him less acceptable to both *Alexandria (1) and Rome.

Article

Bede (Beda Venerabilis) was Anglo-Saxon England’s most prolific Latin writer, and indeed one of the most distinguished authors of the early Middle Ages. At the end of his most celebrated work, Historia ecclesiastical gentis Anglorum (HE), he provides a cursory autobiographical note which remains the starting point for what we know about his life and many writings.1 Born in the kingdom of Northumbria, at the age of seven he was given by his parents to the monastery at Wearmouth, founded in 674, to be reared and educated. When a sister monastery was founded in 681 some seven miles away at Jarrow, Bede was probably among the monks transferred to that new site, and there he remained until his death in 735, at the age of fifty-nine. Ordained deacon at the age of nineteen and priest at the age of thirty, he devoted the whole of his life to monastic observance and scriptural study, memorably stating that “amid the observance of the discipline of the Rule and the daily task of singing in the church, it has always been my delight to learn or to teach or to write.”2 The fruits of this labour are readily evidenced by the long list of his writings that concludes Bede’s note, with its some forty works in various genres—impressive in any era, to be sure, but not least in one popularly understood as “dark” in comparison to the luminous achievements of the classical past.

Article

Benedict of Nursia was an Italian abbot active in the hinterland of Rome at Subiaco and Monte Cassino in the early 6th century. He is best known as the author of a normative guide for monastic life, The Rule of Benedict (Regula Benedicti; hereafter RB), the only surviving work that bears his name. The earliest account of Benedict’s life and independent reference to the RB appeared in the second book of the Dialogues on the Miracles of the Italian Fathers by Gregory the Great (pope590–604ce). Composed at Rome in 593–594ce, the Dialogues were a popular compendium of hagiographical portraits of 6th-century Italian saints cast as a conversation between the pope and one of his disciples. Gregory’s endorsement of Benedict’s sanctity was instrumental in promoting the RB in the early Middle Ages. As a result, the authority of the RB as a guide to monastic life was unassailable from the time of the Carolingians to the end of the 12th century, so much so that historians have traditionally referred to this period (c.

Article

Edith Mary Smallwood and Tessa Rajak

Caesarea (2) in Palestine, under its original name of Strato's Tower (after a king of *Sidon), was captured by the *Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus in 103 bce, attached to the province of Syria by Pompey in 63, and given to *Herod (1) by Octavian in 30. Between c.22 and 10 bce, Herod rebuilt the city on a lavish scale, renaming it after the emperor, and constructing a huge artificial *harbour, now exposed through underwater archaeology. Tensions over the control of the constitution between the large Jewish minority and the Graeco-Syrian majority led to riots, and delegations were sent to Nero. His decision against the Jews was followed by the desecration of a synagogue. The ensuing massacre of 20,000 Jews, allegedly in a single day, sparked off the first Jewish revolt against Rome in 66 ce. The city was the administrative capital of *Judaea under the procurators and again after 70, with a vigorous commercial life and a Roman lifestyle.

Article

Cassian  

Philip Rousseau and Richard Goodrich

Born in c. 360 ce, Cassian was one of the principal conduits for the transmission of eastern ascetic practices to the west. A disciple of Evagrius of Pontus, he travelled through Syria, Palestine, and Egypt, making extensive contact with the masters of eastern *asceticism and gaining a thorough grounding in the theory of the ascetic life.With the Egyptian condemnation of *Origen (1) in 399, he enjoyed the protection of John *Chrysostom in Constantinople, together with many other exiled admirers of the *Alexandrian master. After a period of obscurity, Cassian re-emerged; he settled in southern Gaul (c.415) where he wrote two treatises, Institutes and Conferences, intended to restructure western monasticism along eastern lines. Cassian's audience included local bishops interested in the ascetic life as well as the monks of the nascent monastery at Lérins.The Institutes emphasized the practical elements of coenobitism: liturgical detail and the systematic treatment of the vices. The Conferences reported conversations with ascetics of northern Egypt and gave new Christian vigour to the dialogue form.