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Geoffrey Dunn

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Tertullian's de Virginibus Velandis is not simply a somewhat neglected ascetic treatise but a rhetorical treatise about asceticism. The use of classical rhetoric as a modern interpretative tool for early Christian literature is common, although, as witnessed in an article recentlyin this journal, not without its critics. In this deliberative treatise Tertullian argued from Scripture (3.5c-6.3), natural law (7.1-8.4) and Christian discipline (9.1-15.3) that from puberty Christian female virgins ought to be veiled when in public. The custom of some Carthaginian virginsnot being veiled when the church gathered was attacked as being contrary to the truth. What we find is Tertullian's overwhelming concern for fidelity to the regula fidei. The presence of a well-developed rhetorical structure in de Virginibus Velandis is an argument for datingit after de Oratione, where Tertullian made some similar points, though in a less cohesive and more rudimentary manner.

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Geoffrey Dunn

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The comment of Jerome in his letter to Demetrias (Epistula 130) that Innocent I, bishop of Rome from 402 to 417, was the son of his predecessor Anastasius I has been taken at face value by a number of commentators and has been repeated, often without reference to sources, on any number of Internet web sites. The fact that Liber Pontificialis offers a different parentage for Innocent is often ignored. This paper seeks to reconcile and evaluate the two accounts. The argument advanced here is that in Jerome's highly rhetorical letter the reference is to be understood metaphorically and not literally, given that the use of familial terms of address was common in early Christian letters to indicate a hierarchical rather than a biological relationship. Jerome was asserting that Innocent had been a deacon of Rome under Anastasius. Even beyond this common usage, in this letter such metaphor was part of a rhetorical strategy by which he sought to persuade a powerful Roman senatorial family to back his anti-Pelagian campaign and to use their influence on Innocent to do the same.

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Geoffrey Dunn

In the late fourth and early fifth centuries we are informed of the activities of Cassian by Palladius in his defence of John Chrysostom and by Innocent i, both with regard to the exile of John Chrysostom in 404 and with regard to the reconciliation between the churches of Rome and Antioch in 414. Do these three instances refer to the same person and is that person John Cassian? In this paper it is argued that Palladius does indeed refer to John Cassian and so does Innocent i in his comments about the exile of John Chrysostom. However, the individual involved in the reconciliation between Antioch and Rome is to be seen as a different person, contrary to the opinion of several scholars. This becomes evident through a close reading of Innocent i’s Epistulae 19 and 20.

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Edited by Geoffrey Dunn and Wendy Mayer

The essays collected in Christians Shaping Identity celebrate Pauline Allen’s significant contribution to early Christian, late antique, and Byzantine studies, especially concerning bishops, heresy/orthodoxy and christology. Covering the period from earliest Christianity to middle Byzantium, the first eighteen essays explore the varied ways in which Christians constructed their own identity and that of the society around them. A final four essays explore the same theme within Roman Catholicism and oriental Christianity in the late 19th to 21st centuries, with particular attention to the subtle relationships between the shaping of the early Christian past and the moulding of Christian identity today. Among the many leading scholars represented are Averil Cameron and Elizabeth A. Clark.
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Discipline, Coercion, and Correction


Augustine against the Violence of the Donatists in Epistula 185


Geoffrey D. Dunn

In the lengthy Epistula 185 to Boniface, Augustine outlines the difference between Arians and Donatists. The letter quickly turns to the question of violence perpetrated by the followers of Donatus and Caecilianus. Augustine claims that the violence inflicted by the Donatists against the Caecilianists or themselves was violence indeed, while that inflicted by the Caecilianists against the Donatists, which he could not deny was happening, was classified as discipline and correction. Further, Augustine was attempting to convince a state official that their enforcement of imperial legislation needed to be corrective, and therefore could not be shirked nor could be undertaken without the right intent. This paper examines the arguments and tactics Augustine uses to condemn the Donatists while at the same time justifying the Caecilianists.