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The Cult of Mithras in Late Antiquity

Development, Decline and Demise ca. A.D. 270-430

Series:

David Walsh

In The Cult of Mithras in Late Antiquity David Walsh explores how the cult of Mithras developed across the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D. and why by the early 5th century the cult had completely disappeared. Contrary to the traditional narrative that the cult was violently persecuted out of existence by Christians, Walsh demonstrates that the cult’s decline was a far more gradual process that resulted from a variety of factors. He also challenges the popular image of the cult as a monolithic entity, highlighting how by the 4th century Mithras had come to mean different things to different people in different places.

Augustine and Manichaeism in the Latin West

Proceedings of the Fribourg-Utrecht Symposium of the International Symposium Association of Manichaean Studies (IAMS)

Edited by Johannes van Oort, Otto Wermelinger and Gregor Wurst

Manichaeism, once a gnostic world religion, soon spread to the Roman West. Here, the life and the work of the future (and, without doubt, most influential) Church Father Augustine (354-430) became inextricably connected with Manichaean teachings and practices. In view of the many new Manichaean texts in particular, it turns out that, without a thorough knowledge of the ‘Religion of Light’, Augustine’s theology and philosophy are hardly conceivable.
This volume brings together the selected papers of the Fribourg-Utrecht symposium Augustine and Manichaeism in the Latin West, organized on behalf of the International Association of Manichaean Studies in Fribourg (Switzerland) in the summer of 1998. It contains a considerable number of contributions by leading authorities on the subject, focussing on the diffusion of Mani’s religion in the Latin West and on its impact upon St Augustine.

Early Christian Remains of Inner Mongolia

Discovery, Reconstruction and Appropriation. Second Edition, Revised, Updated and Expanded

Series:

Tjalling H. F. Halbertsma

The early Christian presence in Inner Mongolia forms the subject of this book. These Nestorian remains must primarily be attributed to the Öngüt, a Turkic people closely allied to the Mongols. Writing in Syriac, Uighur and Chinese scripts and languages, the Nestorian Öngüt drew upon a variety of religions and cultures to decorate their gravestones with crosses rising from lotus flowers, dragons and Taoist imagery. This heritage also portrays designs found in the Islamic world. Taking a closer look at the discovery of this material and its significance for the study of the early Church of the East under the Mongols, the author reconstructs the Nestorian culture of the Öngüt.
The reader will find many newly discovered objects not published before. At the same time this study demonstrates how many remaining objects were appropriated and, in many cases, vanished after their discovery.

'I find myself obliged to make a special effort to avoid over-praising this book, a treasure-house of information, drawn on a comprehensive array of sources, some of them hitherto untapped, and splendidly presented on the important subject of Christian presence in East Asia.'
DENIS SINOR, (Indiana University), Journal of Asian History, 43/1 (2009)

Einar Thomassen

This book is a comprehensive study of “Valentinianism,” the most important Gnostic Christian movement in Antiquity. It is the first attempt to make full use of the Valentinian documents from Nag Hammadi as well as the reports of the Church Fathers.
The book discusses the difference between the Eastern and the Western branches of Valentinianism, and argues that individual sources must always be understood in the context of the historical development of Valentinian doctrines. It also analyses the ideas about the incarnation, protological theories, and initiation practice, as well as the dynamic relationship between these building-blocks of Valentinian doctrine. A final chapter studies anew the doctrine of Valentinus himself and outlines the history of the movement.
The book’s usefulness lies in its attempt to bring together for the first time all the sources so as to construct a coherent picture of Valentinian Christianity.

Edited by Antti Marjanen and Petri Luomanen

The book illuminates “the other side” of early Christianity by examining thinkers and movements that were embraced by many second-century religious seekers as legitimate forms of Christianity, but which are now largely forgotten, or are known only from the characteristics attributed to them in the writings of their main adversaries.
The collection deals with the following teachers and movements: Basilides, Sethianism, Valentinus’ school, Marcion, Tatian, Bardaisan, Montanists, Cerinthus, Ebionites, Nazarenes, Jewish-Christianity of the Pseudo-Clementines, and Elchasites.
Where appropriate, the authors have included an overview of the life and significant publications of the “heretics,” along with a description of their theologies and movements. Therefore, this volume can serve as a handbook of the second-century “heretics” and their “heresies.” Since all the chapters have been written by specialists who wrestle daily with their research themes, the contributions also offer new perspectives and insights stimulating further discussion on this fascinating—but often neglected—side of early Christianity.

Series:

Susan Wessel

Leo the Great was a major figure of the late Roman world whose life and work were profoundly intertwined with the political crisis of his day. As the western empire gradually succumbed to the advancing barbarian kingdoms, Leo understood that the papacy needed to expand its authority in order for the church to survive the demise of the political system. This book argues that his achievement was to transform the church not only in the practical level of administrative organization, but in the more fluid realm of thought and idea. The secular Rome that was crumbling was replaced with a Christian, universal Rome that he fashioned by infusing his theology with humanitarian ideals.

Calendar and Chronology, Jewish and Christian

Biblical, Intertestamental and Patristic Studies

Roger T. Beckwith

This book deals with various challenging problems in Jewish and early Christian thought and practice, within the general areas of the calendar and chronology. New problems are tackled, and old problems are reconsidered.
The new problems are intertestamental, and include the Qumran calendar, the stages in the development of Judaism between the Testaments, and the various chronologies used in early Judaism to measure past and future time. These chapters are mainly of Jewish interest, though the last-mentioned has a Christian bearing also, centring as it does on messianic expectation.
The old problems all have a Christian bearing, and are biblical or patristic, though illustrated here by intertestamental evidence. They include the relationship between the Sabbath and Sunday, the date of the crucifixion, the origin of Easter and Whitsun, and the date of Christmas.

This publication has also been published in hardback (no longer available).

Marriage in the Western Church

The Christianization of Marriage During the Patristic and Early Medieval Periods

Reynolds

Author Philip Reynolds examines how marriage acquired a specifically Christian identity in the Latin West during the first millennium after Christ. Beginning with Jesus, everything the Christians did, including getting married, began a process of differentiation. Christians did not invent marriage, but they did redefine it, thereby hoping to solve the inherent problem of reconciling secular, carnal sexual relations with a holy and sanctified state of being, one that would ultimately become a sacrament. This twofold aspect of the Christian marriage was a formative principle throughout the Middle Ages and beyond. Reynolds offers three themes for theological reflection and interpretation: Jesus’ teaching, Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, and Paul’s justification of marriage as a solution to the problem of sexual desire. This book begins with the examination of Roman and Germanic law, followed by the turning from civil to ecclesiastical law. Then Reynolds presents Augustine’s theology of marriage, and finally, the nuptial process. Reynolds’ insights into the Christainization of marriage makes this a valuable book at both the scholarly and the practical level.

This publication has also been published in hardback, please click here for details.

Families and Family Relations

As Represented in Early Judaisms and Early Christianities: Texts and Fictions. Papers read at a NOSTER colloquium in Amsterdam, June 9-11, 1998

Edited by Athalya Brenner and Jan Willem van Henten

STAR - Studies in Theology and Religion, 2

The fruits of discussion at an international gathering of biblical and other scholars interested in “families” in the ancient Near East are offered here. This is not a collection of “proceedings” in the usual sense; rather the essays mark a conscious joint effort to advance the discussion in the newly opened debate on “families” in the “biblical worlds”.
Topics discussed include the metaphor of marriage in Early Judaism, the brother-sister relationship in Ancient Israel, Hebrew family names, domesticity in Judaism, kinship in the Pauline churches, and women in John’s Gospel.
The contributors include, among others, A. van der Kooij, R. Hachlili, G. Mussies, M. Peskowitz, P. Esler, S. van Tilborg, and R. Bieringer.

Human Nature in Gregory of Nyssa

Philosophical Background and Theological Significance

Johannes Zachhuber

This volume explores Gregory Of Nyssa's concept of human nature. It argues that the frequent use Gregory makes of phusis-terminology is not only a terminological predilection, but rather the key to the philosophical and theological foundations of his thought.
Starting from an overview of the theological landscape in the early 360's the study first demonstrates the meaning and relevance of universal human nature as an analogy for the Trinity in Cappadocian theology. The second part explores Gregory's use of this same notion in his teaching on the divine economy. It is argued that Gregory takes this philosophical theory into the service of his own theology.
Ultimately the book provides an example for the mutual interaction of philosophy and Christian theology in the fourth century.