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Edited by Ioannis Mylonopoulos

The polytheistic religious systems of ancient Greece and Rome reveal an imaginative attitude towards the construction of the divine. One of the most important instruments in this process was certainly the visualisation. Images of the gods transformed the divine world into a visually experienceable entity, comprehensible even without a theoretical or theological superstructure. For the illiterates, images were together with oral traditions and rituals the only possibility to approach the idea of the divine; for the intellectuals, images of the gods could be allegorically transcended symbols to reflect upon. Based on the art historical and textual evidence, this volume offers a fresh view on the historical, literary, and artistic significance of divine images as powerful visual media of religious and intellectual communication.

Magical Practice in the Latin West

Papers from the International Conference held at the University of Zaragoza, 30 Sept. – 1st Oct. 2005

Edited by Richard L. Gordon and Simón Marco

How different was the practice of magic in the Latin West from that of the eastern Mediterranean basin? Was it just derivative from Greek practice, or did it have its own originality? The recent discovery of important new curse-tablets in Mainz and in the Fountain of Anna Perenna at Rome has made the question newly topical. This volume contains the first commented editions in English of most of these new texts as well as major surveys of new prayers for justice. Other sections are devoted to the discourse of magic in the West, to the linguistics and aims of cursing, and to the major field of protective and eudaemonic magic up to and including the Visigothic slates and the Celtic loricae. The essays are by well-known scholars in the field as well as by established and younger Spanish scholars.

Votives, Places and Rituals in Etruscan Religion

Studies in Honor of Jean MacIntosh Turfa

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Edited by Margarita Gleba and Hilary Becker

Etruscans were deemed “the most religious of men” by their Roman successors and it is hardly surprising that the topic of Etruscan religion has been explored for some time now. This volume offers a contribution to the continued study of Etruscan religion and daily life, by focusing on the less explored issue of ritual. Ritual is approached through fourteen case studies, considering mortuary customs, votive rituals and other religious and daily life practices. The book gathers new material, interpretations and approaches to the less emphasized areas of Etruscan religion, especially its votive aspects, based on archaeological and epigraphic sources.

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Cornelia Horn and Robert Phenix

This book makes available for the first time in English important works by the anti-Chalcedonian historian and biographer John Rufus on Peter the Iberian, Theodosius of Jerusalem, and Abba Romanus, three key figures of the Christian history of Palestine in the fifth and early sixth centuries C.E. The work offers a new critical edition of the Syriac text; the first-ever published English translation; a substantial introduction to Palestinian monasticism, the christological controversies of the time, and the life and writings of John Rufus; and ample annotations to a Syriac text whose Greek original is no longer available. By providing access to the Christian landscape (literally and metaphorically) in late antique and early Byzantine times, this volume offers a valuable counterbalance from a minority perspective to the biographical and historical writings of the Chalcedonian apologist Cyril of Scythopolis.
Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (www.sbl-site.org)

Romanising Oriental Gods

Myth, Salvation and Ethics in the Cults of Cybele, Isis and Mithras

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Jaime Alvar

The traditional grand narrative correlating the decline of Graeco-Roman religion with the rise of Christianity has been under pressure for three decades. This book argues that the alternative accounts now emerging significantly underestimate the role of three major cults, of Cybele and Attis, Isis and Serapis, and Mithras. Although their differences are plain, these cults present sufficient common features to justify their being taken typologically as a group. All were selective adaptations of much older cults of the Fertile Crescent. It was their relative sophistication, their combination of the imaginative power of unfamiliar myth with distinctive ritual performance and ethical seriousness, that enabled them both to focus and to articulate a sense of the autonomy of religion from the socio-political order, a sense they shared with Early Christianity. The notion of 'mystery' was central to their ability to navigate the Weberian shift from ritualist to ethical salvation.

From Temple to Church

Destruction and Renewal of Local Cultic Topography in Late Antiquity

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Stephen Emmel

Edited by Johannes Hahn and Ulrich Gotter

Destruction of temples and their transformation into churches are central symbols of late antique change in religious environment, socio-political system, and public perception. Contemporaries were aware of these events’ far-reaching symbolic significance and of their immediate impact as demonstrations of political power and religious conviction. Joined in any “temple-destruction” are the meaning of the monument, actions taken, and subsequent literary discourse. Paradigms of perception, specific interests, and forms of expression of quite various protagonists clashed. Archaeologists, historians, and historians of religion illuminate “temple-destruction” from different perspectives, analysing local configurations within larger contexts, both regional and imperial, in order to find an appropriate larger perspective on this phenomenon within the late antique movement “from temple to church”.

The Variety of Local Religious Life in the Near East

In the Hellenistic and Roman Periods

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Ted Kaizer

A ‘Near Eastern religion’, along the lines of ‘Greek religion’ or ‘Roman religion’, is hard to distinguish for the Classical period, since the religious cultures of the many cities, villages and regions that constituted the Near East in the Hellenistic and Roman periods were, despite some obvious similarities, above all very different from each other. This collection of articles by scholars from different disciplines (Ancient History, Archaeology, Art-History, Epigraphy, Numismatics, Oriental Studies, Theology) contributes to our quest for understanding the polytheistic cults of the Near East as a whole by bringing out the variety between the different local and regional forms of worship in this part of the world.

From Temple to Church

Destruction and Renewal of Local Cultic Topography in Late Antiquity

Stephen Emmel

Edited by Johannes Hahn and Ulrich Gotter

Destruction of temples and their transformation into churches are central symbols of late antique change in religious environment, socio-political system, and public perception. Contemporaries were aware of these events’ far-reaching symbolic significance and of their immediate impact as demonstrations of political power and religious conviction. Joined in any “temple-destruction” are the meaning of the monument, actions taken, and subsequent literary discourse. Paradigms of perception, specific interests, and forms of expression of quite various protagonists clashed. Archaeologists, historians, and historians of religion illuminate “temple-destruction” from different perspectives, analysing local configurations within larger contexts, both regional and imperial, in order to find an appropriate larger perspective on this phenomenon within the late antique movement “from temple to church”.

Inscribing Devotion and Death

Archaeological Evidence for Jewish Populations of North Africa

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Karen Stern

Reliance on essentialist or syncretistic models of cultural dynamics has limited past evaluations of ancient Jewish populations. This reexamination of evidence for Jews of North Africa offers an alternative approach. Drawing from methods developed in cultural studies and historical linguistics, this book replaces traditional categories used to examine evidence for early Jewish populations and demonstrates how direct comparison of Jewish material evidence with that of its neighbors allows for a reassessment of what the category of “Jewish” might have meant in different North African locations and periods and, by extension, elsewhere in the Mediterranean. The result is a transformed analysis of Jewish cultural identity that both emphasizes its indebtedness to larger regional contexts and allows for a more informed and complex understanding of Jewish cultural distinctiveness.

Philostorgius

Church History

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Philip Amidon

Philostorgius (born 368 C.E.) was a member of the Eunomian sect of Christianity, a nonconformist faction deeply opposed to the form of Christianity adopted by the Roman government as the official religion of its empire. He wrote his twelve-book Church History, the critical edition of the surviving remnants of which is presented here in English translation, at the beginning of the fifth century as a revisionist history of the church and the empire in the fourth and early-fifth centuries. Sometimes contradicting and often supplementing what is found in other histories of the period, Christian or otherwise, it offers a rare dissenting picture of the Christian world of the time.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (www.sbl-site.org)