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Clarifying the Eclipse

Ascetics, Politics, and the Poetics of Power in Post-Roman Iberia

David Ungvary

Abstract

This essay examines a literary exchange between the Visigothic poet-king Sisebut (612-621 AD) and his scholar-bishop Isidore of Seville following an anomalous sequence of eclipses. After Sisebut commissioned a scientific treatise from Isidore on such natural phenomena, he responded to the bishop’s prose with a short poem on lunar eclipses (De eclipsi lunae). This study interprets the exchange of texts not as a literary game, but as high-stakes political correspondence. It situates the king’s verses in an ongoing process of cultural construction in Visigothic Spain, led prominently by Isidore himself, but also tied to a rising ascetic movement. It argues that Sisebut was attuned to Isidore’s designs to manage the discourses through which Christian power was proclaimed, and shows how the king attempted to versify in accord with scientific truth so as to fit within Isidore’s ascetic intellectual program.

Holger Szesnat

Abstract

This paper is a response to Alice Whealey’s proposal concerning the authorship of certain fragments traditionally assigned to Eusebius of Caesarea, arguing that they are more likely the work of his pupil, Eusebius of Emesa. The paper considers the manuscript evidence, specifically the lemmata in Vat.gr. 1611, in relation to the internal evidence considered by Whealey.

Devin L. White

Abstract

In On Prayer 1-4, Evagrius of Pontus reads the incense described in Exodus 30:34-37 as an allegorical type of the four cardinal virtues. This essay explains the logic of Evagrius’s interpretation, situating his argument in a longstanding philosophical debate about the interrelationship of the virtues. By reading the incense as virtue, Evagrius joins both Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa in interpreting Exodus as a source for virtue theory, as well as several ancient philosophers who explained the virtues and their interrelation by comparing them to physical substances combined in a mixture. Central to Evagrius’s argument is the compound ancient philosophers called a “juxtaposition” (σύνθεσις), the use of which term shows Evagrius’s knowledge of a well-attested hexaplaric variant in Exod 30:35. In sum, authorized by his text of Exodus, Evagrius suggests the virtues relate to each other in the same fashion that the ingredients of a σύνθεσις relate to each other.

Johannes van Oort

Ian N. Mills

Abstract

Most scholars agree that “pagans” did not read Christian scripture. This critical consensus, however, places inordinate weight on a decontextualized quotation from Tertullian and neglects a body of evidence to the contrary. In particular, the role of books in early autobiographical conversion narratives suggests that early Christian authors and copyists could sometimes work with a reasonable expectation of pagan readership. Against traditional notions of the restricted appeal and circulation of Christian literature, pagan and Christian sources alike indicate that Christian writings found an audience among philo-barbarian thinkers and that certain Christians promoted their books in pagan circles.

Willem J. C. Blom

Abstract

The reference to Christ in Tacitus’ Annales is one of the earliest references to Jesus by a non-Christian author. Although this so-called “Testimonium Taciteum” is generally accepted as authentic, arguments against the authenticity of the passage given by Richard Carrier have not yet received a thorough response. In this article, I will argue that the arguments against authenticity of the Testimonium Taciteum do not rest on solid ground, nor does the alternative interpretation of the passage by Carrier. On the other hand, it is probable that Tacitus referred in his passage to the persecution of Christians, although that persecution may have been less connected with the fire of Rome than is commonly suggested. There are also four arguments that favour the authenticity of the Testimonium.

Der Einheitsbegriff als Kohärenzprinzip bei Maximus Confessor

Eine Studie zu Ps-Dionysius-Rezeption, triplex via und analogem Weltbild bei Maximus Confessor

Series:

Jonathan Bieler

In The Concept of Unity as the Principle of Coherence in Maximus Confessor Jonathan Bieler lays out the importance of the concepts of transcendent divine unity, goodness and truth for understanding the coherence of the whole of Maximus’ thought, which brings together theology, anthropology and Christology into a unified vision that is based on an analogy between creator and creation. Interpreting the concepts of Maximus’ thought remains a contentious subject in Maximian scholarship. By evaluating the interior coherence and historical situation of Maximus’ thought in general and by studying the influence of Ps-Dionysius the Areopagite’s methodology on Maximus’ Christology in particular the author shows the context in which Maximus’ well-known conceptual distinctions can be understood in a helpful way. Jonathan Bieler erläutert in Der Einheitsbegriff als Kohärenzprinzip bei Maximus Confessor die zentrale Rolle der Begriffe der göttlichen Einheit, Güte und Wahrheit für ein Verständnis der Kohärenz von Maximus’ Denken, das Gotteslehre, Anthropologie und Christologie zu einer einheitlichen Sicht versammelt, beruhend auf einer Analogie zwischen Schöpfer und Geschöpf. Die Interpretation von Maximus’ Konzepten ist ein umstrittenes Gebiet in der Forschung. Durch eine Auswertung der inneren Kohärenz und der historischen Situation des Maximus und durch eine Untersuchung des Einflusses, den Ps-Dionysius Areopagitas Methodik auf die Christologie des Maximus ausgeübt hat, zeigt der Autor den Kontext auf, in dem Maximus’ begriffliche Unterscheidungen auf eine hilfreiche Weise verstanden werden können.

Erzählte Bewegung

Narrationsstrategien und Funktionsweisen lateinischer Pilgertexte (4.-15. Jahrhundert)

Series:

Susanna Fischer

In Erzählte Bewegung. Narrationsstrategien und Funktionsweisen lateinischer Pilgertexte (4.-15. Jahrhundert), Susanna Fischer analyzes the function and structure of the genre of pilgrimage narratives from a literary point of view.
The first part of the book is devoted to theoretical reflections and a systematic analysis of characteristic elements of pilgrimage narratives. Interpreting the texts from a narrative perspective, she focuses not only on formal characteristics but also on narrative structures and thus takes a closer look at the poetics of pilgrimage narratives. Through the detailed analysis of fourteen Latin texts about pilgrimage to the Holy Land from the 4th to the 15th century, she illustrates the development of a literary tradition with specific structural, stylistic and narrative characteristics.