Pagans explores the rise of Christianity from a surprising and unique viewpoint: that of the people who witnessed their ways of life destroyed by what seemed then a powerful religious cult. These “pagans” were actually pious Greeks, Romans, Syrians, and Gauls who observed the traditions of their ancestors. To these devout polytheists, Christians who worshipped only one deity were immoral atheists who believed that a splash of water on the deathbed could erase a lifetime of sin.
Religious scholar James J. O’Donnell takes us on a lively tour of the Ancient Roman world through the fourth century CE, when Romans of every nationality, social class, and religious preference found their world suddenly constrained by rulers who preferred a strange new god. Some joined this new cult, while others denied its power, erroneously believing it was little more than a passing fad.
In Pagans, O’Donnell brings to life various pagan rites and essential features of Roman religion and life, offers fresh portraits of iconic historical figures, including Constantine, Julian, and Augustine, and explores important themes—Rome versus the east, civilization versus barbarism, plurality versus unity, rich versus poor, and tradition versus innovation—in this startling account.
The book is divided into three main sections. The first section debates the degree to which the category of rivalry adequately names the issue(s) that must be addressed when comparing and contrasting the social “success” of different religious groups in antiquity. The second is a critical assessment of the common modern category of “mission” to describe the inner dynamic of such a process; it discusses the early Christian apostle Paul, the early Jewish historian Josephus, and ancient Mithraism. The third section of the book is devoted to “the rise of Christianity,” primarily in response to the similarly titled work of the American sociologist of religion Rodney Stark.
While it is not clear that any of these groups imagined its own success necessarily entailing the elimination of others, it does seem that early Christianity had certain habits, both of speech and practice, which made it particularly apt to succeed (in) the Roman Empire.
Thematic chapters examine the day to day behavior of Christians in the Roman world, including the conversion of Gentiles, religious practices and afterlife, food, housing and clothing, interaction with paganism, and private and public life.
In die Studien finden einschlägige Monographien und Sammelwerke aus dem gesamten Themenspektrum Aufnahme, zudem Kommentare und Editionen. Publikationssprachen sind vornehmlich Deutsch und Englisch; die Aufnahme französischer, italienischer und spanischer Arbeiten ist möglich.
Falls Sie ein Manuskript für die Studien einreichen möchten, bitte wir Sie, sich an den fachnächsten Herausgeber zu wenden:
Wolfram Brandes, Frankfurt (Byzantinistik und Frühes Mittelalter): firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter von Möllendorff, Gießen (Gräzistik): email@example.com
Dennis Pausch, Dresden (Latinistik): firstname.lastname@example.org
Rene Pfeilschifter, Würzburg (Alte Geschichte): Rene.Pfeilschifter@uni-wuerzburg.de
Karla Pollmann, Bristol (Frühes Christentum und Patristik): K.F.L.Pollmann@bristol.ac.uk
Alle Manuskripte werden von dem jeweiligen Herausgeber und von einem externen Gutachter beurteilt. Dabei gilt das Single-blind peer review-Verfahren.
Peter Brown examines the rise of the church through the lens of money and the challenges it posed to an institution that espoused the virtue of poverty and called avarice the root of all evil. Drawing on the writings of major Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome, Brown examines the controversies and changing attitudes toward money caused by the influx of new wealth into church coffers, and describes the spectacular acts of divestment by rich donors and their growing influence in an empire beset with crisis. He shows how the use of wealth for the care of the poor competed with older forms of philanthropy deeply rooted in the Roman world, and sheds light on the ordinary people who gave away their money in hopes of treasure in heaven.
Through the Eye of a Needle challenges the widely held notion that Christianity's growing wealth sapped Rome of its ability to resist the barbarian invasions, and offers a fresh perspective on the social history of the church in late antiquity.
Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune is one of the first comprehensive surveys of this tradition in modern times. The book covers the history, philosophy, and techniques of ancient astrology, with a special focus on demonstrating how many of the fundamental concepts underlying the practice of western astrology originated during the Hellenistic period.