Poison in the Panarion: Beasts, Heretics, and Sexual Deviants

In: Vigiliae Christianae
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Epiphanius builds Christian identity in his Panarion by merging two distinct discourses of othering: poison and sexual slander. By combining a rhetoric of poison with a rhetoric of sexual slander, Epiphanius produced a new way of thinking about—and creating—theological difference. By linking his opponents to sexual deviance, identifying heresies as poisons which can invade the church, and likening heretics to beasts, Epiphanius delegitimated his opponents, characterized himself as the church’s chief medical officer, and presented one acceptable Christian identity.

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