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In Monotheism and Christology in Greco-Roman Antiquity, Matthew V. Novenson brings together thirteen state-of-the-art essays by leading scholars on the various ways ancient Jewish, Christian, and classical writers conceive of God, Christ, Wisdom, the demiurge, angels, foreign gods, and other divine beings. In particular, the book revisits the “early high Christology” debates of the 1990s, identifying the lasting contributions thereof as well as the lingering difficulties and new, emerging questions from the last thirty years of research. The essays in this book probe the much-touted but under-theorized distinctions between monotheism and polytheism, Judaism and Hellenism, Christianity and paganism. They show how what we call monotheism and Christology fit within the Greco-Roman world of which they are part.
Providence, Dualism, and Will in Later Greek and Early Christian Philosophy
Author: Dylan M. Burns
Is God involved? Why do bad things happen to good people? What is up to us? These questions were explored in Mediterranean antiquity with reference to ‘providence’ ( pronoia). In Did God Care? Dylan Burns offers the first comprehensive survey of providence in ancient philosophy that brings together the most important Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Syriac sources, from Plato to Plotinus and the Gnostics.

Burns demonstrates how the philosophical problems encompassed by providence transformed in the first centuries CE, yielding influential notions about divine care, evil, creation, omniscience, fate, and free will that remain with us today. These transformations were not independent developments of ‘Pagan philosophy’ and ‘Christian theology,’ but include fruits of mutually influential engagement between Hellenic and Christian philosophers.
This volume, edited by René Brouwer and Emmanuele Vimercati, deals with the debate about fate, providence and free will in the early Imperial age. This debate is rekindled in the 1st century CE during emperor Augustus’ rule and ends in the 3rd century CE with Plotinus and Origen, when the different positions in the debate were more or less fully developed. The book aims to show how in this period the notions of fate, providence and freedom were developed and debated, not only within and between the main philosophical schools, that is Stoicism, Aristotelianism, and Platonism, but also in the interaction with other, “religious” movements, here understood in the general sense of groups of people sharing beliefs in and worship of (a) superhuman controlling power(s), such as Gnosticism, Hermetism as well as Judaism and Christianity.
Johannine Christology provides a snapshot of the foremost investigations of this important topic by a selection of scholars representing a range of expertise in this field. The volume is organized into four major parts, which are concerned with the formation of Johannine Christology, Johannine Christology in Hellenistic and Jewish contexts, Christology and the literary character of the Johannine writings, and the application of Christology for the Johannine audience and beyond.

The fifteen contributors to this volume comprise an international set of Johannine scholars who explore various ways of both describing and then pursuing the implications of Johannine Christology. Their contributions focus primarily upon the Gospel, but involve other key texts as well.
Author: Matthieu Pignot
In The Catechumenate in Late Antique Africa (4th-6th centuries) Matthieu Pignot explores how individuals became Christian in ancient North Africa. Before baptism, converts first became catechumens and spent a significant time of gradual integration into the community through rituals and teaching. This book provides the first historical study of this process in African sources, from Augustine of Hippo, to canon of councils, anonymous sermons and 6th-century letters. Pignot shows that practices varied more than is generally assumed and that catechumens, because of their liminal position, were a disputed and essential group in the development of Christian communities until the 6th century at least. This book demonstrates that the catechumenate is key to understanding the processes of Christianisation and conversion in the West.
Essays in Christian Teachers in Second-Century Rome situate Christian teachers in the social and intellectual context of the Roman urban environment. The teaching and textual work of well-known figures such as Marcion, Justin, Valentinus, and Tatian are discussed, as well as lesser-known and appreciated figures such as Theodotus the Cobbler. Authors probe material and visual evidence on teachers and teaching activity, adopting different theoretical perspectives that go beyond the traditional “church – school” dichotomy: comparative looks at physicians, philosophers and other textual experts; at synagogues, shops and other sites where students gathered around religious entrepreneurs. Taken as a whole, the volume makes a strong case for the sheer diversity of Christian teaching activity in second-century Rome.
Wisdom on the Move explores the complexity and flexibility of wisdom traditions in Late Antiquity and beyond. This book studies how sayings, maxims and expressions of spiritual insight travelled across linguistic and cultural borders, between different religions and milieus, and how this multicultural process reshaped these sayings and anecdotes. Wisdom on the Move takes the reader on a journey through late antique religious traditions, from manuscript fragments and folios via the monastic cradle of Egypt, across linguistic and cultural barriers, through Jewish and Biblical wisdom, monastic sayings, and Muslim interpretations. Particular attention is paid to the monastic Apophthegmata Patrum, arguably the most important genre of wisdom literature in the early Christian world.

Abstract

In this paper I examine the mythological references contained in Clem. Alex. Str. 4,19,118-123, a passage in which Clement develops the idea that perfection is equally attainable by men and women, and illustrates it by listing examples of female perfection, including biblical women, historical figures, and mythical heroines. After an analysis of Clement’s technique of embedment of the mythical examples, I show that his wording conveys a subtle distinction between the mythical women on the one hand and the historical and biblical women on the other by signalling the poetical character of the former. In this context, it is the synthetic and selective nature of the references that allows Clement to exploit myth’s illustrative function without explicitly distancing himself from it. Finally, I argue that his source on several mythical examples is a mythographical catalogue of figures grouped under φιλο- compounds.

In: Vigiliae Christianae
Author: Daniel Greb

Abstract

In his treatise de fuga in persecutione Tertullian argues that flight is not allowed for any Christian in times of persecution. As persecution originates in God and his will, there is no possibility to flee and avoid it. Such a behaviour would be nothing else than apostasy and would result in the loss of eternal life. Only by submitting oneself completely to God and his providence and the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Paraclete) it is possible to endure persecution and fulfil God’s demand for steadfastness. To convince his addressee Fabius, Tertullian gives his treatise a classical rhetorical disposition and arranges his arguments according to the partes orationis. This article investigates the rhetorical substance of the treatise and outlines its disposition as a deliberative speech. It is demonstrated, how Tertullian’s rhetoric influences and strengthens his argumentation.

In: Vigiliae Christianae

Abstract

Justin’s First Apology contains the longest extant description of an early Christian meal. This description (ch. 65-67) poses several problems, of which this short article singles out only two. On the level of textual criticism, an oft-discussed variant, rejected in all editions, suggests that the blessing is made over a cup of water, not wine. On the level of liturgical history, Justin’s Eucharist seems to contradict the view that early Christian meals resembled Graeco-Roman symposia. By combining the textual and the historical approach, this article offers a compromise. It is argued that water and not wine was indeed used during the opening ritual, but that the rest of the event did unfold as a symposium and hence included wine.

In: Vigiliae Christianae