1. It is now known to be of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, but the mistaken belief that it was of Constantine led to it being spared when pagan statues were being destroyed by Christians. It was later moved to the Capitoline Hill and can now be seen under cover there in the Palazzo Nuovo.
2. The information used in this chapter comes from the fine study of the fresco by G. Geiger, Filippino Lippi’s Carafa Chapel: Renaissance Art in Rome (Kirksville, Mo., 1986), chap. 5, on which my own text is based.
3. The text itself is from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, 1:19, where it is related back to earlier scripture. In the subsequent verses Paul goes on to place God’s wisdom above human wisdom. The consequences of this condemnation of pagan philosophy are a major theme of this book, although, as will be argued later, Paul appears to have known very little of the philosophical tradition which he was attacking.
4. Filippino Lippi was the son of the Florentine Fra Filippo Lippi, an important painter of narrative scenes, and, between 1488 and 1493, a student of Botticelli. The chapel—the only commission known to have been undertaken by Filippino in Rome—was undertaken at the behest of Cardinal Oliviero Carafa (1430–1511), cardinal protector of the Dominicans and a staunch upholder of papal authority. Carafa was a man of action who led a crusade against the Turks in the 1470s. (The Porta Ripa Grande is probably included in the fresco because it was from here that he embarked for the crusade.)
5. The concept of “faith” will be explored in different contexts in this book. For some of the philosophical problems involved see chap. 9, note 14. The words “all will be well” come from the writings of the Christian mystic Julian of Norwich and refer directly to the peace and serenity brought by Jesus.
1. Aristotle, Metaphysics II. 1 993a30–34, trans. W. D. Ross.
2. The story is told in book 5 of the Odyssey. A recommended translation is that by R. Fagles (London and New York, 1996). Examples of “heroes” consciously using rational thought to decide on a course of action can also be found in Homer’s Iliad. In book 17, lines 101–21 (trans. R. Fagles, Harmondsworth, 1991), Menelaus, “deeply torn, as he probed his own great heart,” weighs up whether to fight Hector in single combat or to withdraw from battle. In an important article, “The Epic Cycle and the Uniqueness of Homer” (Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. 97 , pp. 39–53), Jasper Griffin compares Homer’s epics, the Odyssey and the Iliad, with an epic cycle that survives from the same period. In the epic cycle heroes are immortal and there are monsters and miracles, while Homer’s is a cosmos where even heroes cannot escape death and the natural world is presented as it really is. (Animals cannot change shape or form, for instance.) In Homer’s world, of course, the gods still hold some power, as in the passage here, but over the next centuries the development of rational thought was to diminish their role in the natural world. Homer can thus be seen to have made an important contribution to the transition from a world of magic and miracles to one of reason.
3. The evolution of the city state can be traced in O. Murray, Early Greece, 2nd ed. (London, 1993), and R. Osborne, Greece in the Making, 1200–479 B.C. (London, 1996).
4. For an introduction to Greek religion see S. Price, Religions of the Ancient Greeks (Cambridge, 1999).
5. Quoted ibid., p. 79.
6. Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War 3:82, trans. R. Warner, Penguin Classics.
7. Homer’s epics already include some appreciation of an underlying natural order. In this extract, the gods themselves act to impose it. Poseidon, the god of earthquakes, helped, significantly, by Apollo, the god of reason among other things, gets rid of the intrusive settlement made by the Greeks along the coastline outside Troy.
The earth-shaker himself, trident locked in his grip,
led the way, rocking loose, sweeping up in his breakers
all the bastions, strong supports of logs and stones . . .
He made all smooth along the rip of the Hellespont
and piled the endless beaches deep in sand again
and once he had levelled the Argives’ mighty wall
he turned the rivers flowing back in their beds again
where their fresh clear tides had run since time began.
So in the years to come Poseidon and the god Apollo
would set all things to rights once more.
Trans. R. Fagles, The Iliad, Penguin Classics. The “Argives” are the Greeks.
8. Translation by O. Murray.
9. As an overview of the “scientific revolution,” see C. Kahn, “The Origins of Greek Science and Philosophy,” in A. Bowen, ed., Science and Philosophy in Ancient Greece (New York and London, 1993). The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, ed. A. A. Long (Cambridge, 1999), has articles on the main pre-Socratic (that is, those practising before Socrates, late fifth century) philosophers. For a broad survey of Greek thinking in general, see J. Brunschwig and G. E. R. Lloyd, eds., Greek Thought: A Guide to Classical Knowledge (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 2000), and the chapter “Philosophy” by B. Williams, in M. I. Finley, ed., The Legacy of Greece: A New Appraisal (Oxford, 1984).
10. Lloyd’s case for the relationship between politics and philosophy is argued most strongly in his Magic, Reason and Experience (Cambridge, 1979). See especially chap. 4, “Greek Science and Greek Society.”
11. M. West, “Early Greek Philosophy,” in J. Boardman, J. Griffin and O. Murray, eds., The Oxford History of the Classical World (Oxford, 1986).
12. For Aristotle a particularly good introduction is J. Barnes, Aristotle (Oxford, 1982). Chap. 7, “Logic,” deals with syllogisms. A more advanced survey is J. Lear, Aristotle: The Desire to Understand (Cambridge, 1988).
13. Quoted in P. Hoffman, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers (London, 1999), p. 113. A good introduction to Greek mathematics is to be found in M. Kline, Mathematical Thought from Ancient to Modern Times, vol. 1 (New York and Oxford, 1972). Euclid and Apollonius are given full treatment in chap. 4.
14. Herodotus used to be derided by commentators for his continuing use of myth and uncritical use of oral evidence, in contrast, it is argued, with the more “scientific” Thucydides. Recently, however, R. Thomas, in her Herodotus in Context: Ethnography, Science and the Art of Persuasion (Cambridge, 2000), has argued that Herodotus deserves to be placed in the forefront of intellectual developments of the fifth century.
15. From Sacred Disease, attributed to Hippocrates, VI 352, 1–9L; 364, 9–15; 366, 5–6L. Trans. J. Longrigg; quoted in his Greek Medicine: From the Heroic to the Hellenistic Age. A Source Book (London, 1998), p. 21. Sacred Disease is considered at some length by G. E. R. Lloyd, in his Magic, Reason and Experience (Cambridge, 1979), pp. 15–29.
16. The Ionian physician Alcmaeon (Ionian, fifth century B.C.) transfers the concept of stability being achieved through the union of opposites, surely a concept taken from notions of “the ideal city,” to the human body.
Alcmaeon holds that what preserves health is the equality of the powers, moist and dry, cold and hot, bitter and sweet, and the rest—and the supremacy of any one of them causes disease, for the supremacy of either is destructive. The cause of disease is an excess of heat or cold, the occasion of it surfeit or deficiency of nourishment: the location of it, marrow or the brain. Disease may come about from external causes, from the quality of water, local environment or toil or torture. Health, on the other hand, is a harmonious blending of the qualities.
Longrigg, Greek Medicine, p. 31. For Galen’s attempts to find a mathematical base for scientific demonstration, see G. E. R. Lloyd, “Demonstration in Galen,” in M. Frede and G. Striker, eds., Rationality in Greek Thought (Oxford, 1996), pp. 255–78.
17. This is how Aristotle defended the spherical nature of the earth:
(i) If the earth were not spherical, eclipses of the moon would not exhibit segments of the shape they do . . . (ii) Observation of the stars also shows not only that the earth is spherical but that it is of no great size . . . we do not see the same stars as we move to the North or South . . . For this reason those who imagine that the region around the Pillars of Heracles [Straits of Gibraltar] joins on to the regions of India, and that in this way the ocean is one, are not, it would seem, suggesting anything incredible.
From On the Heavens, trans. W. Guthrie, Loeb Classical Library, 1939, 297b25–298a10.
18. For introductions to Greek science, see T. E. Rihill, Greek Science (Oxford, 1999), and G. E. R. Lloyd, Early Greek Science: Thales to Aristotle (London, 1974), and Greek Science After Aristotle (London, 1973). For astronomy there is Michael Hoskin, ed., The Cambridge Concise History of Astronomy (Cambridge, 1999).
19. Barnes, Aristotle, is excellent on all this.
20. These examples are taken from Aristotle’s Historia Animalium and De Partibus Animalium, which are discussed in G. E. R. Lloyd, Aristotelian Explorations (Cambridge, 1996), chap. 3. When Aristotle was absorbed into Christianity (see chap. 20 of this book), his readiness to question was played down, and it was only fully recognized again in the twentieth century.
21. G. E. R. Lloyd, The Revolutions of Wisdom (Berkeley and London, 1957), p. 153.
22. Ibid., p. 57.
23. It is easy to pick up, from Paul’s letters and from Christian thought in general, the idea that rational thinking is somehow an arrogant enterprise, trespassing on what belongs to God. However, in so far as rational argument is subject to public scrutiny at every stage, the opposite is the case. A mathematician or scientist can be humiliated by his peers when his arguments are shown to be invalid. As E. R. Dodds put in in his well-known study The Greeks and the Irrational (Berkeley and London, 1951): “That honest distinction between what is knowable and what is not appears again and again in fifth-century thought, and is surely one of its chief glories; it is the foundation of scientific humility [sic]” (p. 181). The real problem, as Dodds suggests, lies in taking rational thought in directions where it cannot go—in cases where there are no firm axioms from which the argument can begin. This is, arguably, the problem with Plato. Plato believed that the ultimate truth about everything from “the Good” to beauty and justice could be solved by the use of rational thought. The difficulties this led to will be discussed in the next chapter and at other points in this book. There was an important strand in Greek thought—known usually as Pyrrhonist Skepticism, after its supposed founder, Pyrrhon (c. 365–275 B.C.)—that used rational argument to delineate the problems in making rational argument. The Greeks were also aware of how the value of materials or concepts may be relative to their context. Heraclitus, inventive as ever, noted, “Sea: purest and most polluted water, for fish drinkable and life-sustaining, for people undrinkable and death-bringing,” suggesting in other words that what may appear to have value in one context may lack it in another. See the article “Skepticism” by J. Brunschwig and G. E. R. Lloyd, eds., Greek Thought: A Guide to Classical Knowledge (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 2000), and R. Mortley, From Word to Silence: The Rise and Fall of Logos (Bonn, 1986).
24. How a language which can deal with abstract things and states of being emerged has been a subject of great controversy centring around the work of Eric Havelock. See C. L. Johnstone’s introductory essay in Theory, Text, Context: Issues in Greek Rhetoric and Oratory (New York, 1994), and the essays by Havelock, J. Margolis and others in K. Robb, ed., Language and Thought in Early Greek Philosophy (La Salle, Ill., 1983). For the foundations of the term logos, see Mortley, From Word to Silence, chap. 1, “Logos Identified.”
25. The Athenians, for instance, believed that their founding king, Erectheus, had sprung from semen placed directly in the earth of Attica, the plain surrounding the city, by the god Hephaestus and so they alone among Greeks could be said to be truly native to Greece and thus superior to other Greeks. Most of their rivals had foundation myths in which the founder came from elsewhere. Having a “better” foundation myth than anyone else was typical of Athenian arrogance.
26. The use of myth in tragic drama was such a sophisticated way of dealing with apparently resolvable ethical issues that a digression seems justified here. The play Antigone by Sophocles (performed in 468 B.C.) offers an excellent example of how a moral dilemma is presented in drama. The brother of Antigone, Polyneices, has been killed attacking the city of Thebes. Creon, the king of Thebes, declares him polluted and thus not worthy of burial. Antigone is determined that he should be buried according to the “unwritten and unfailing conventions of the gods” and goes ahead to scatter earth on his body. Which should take precedence, the authority of the city ruler or the conventions of the gods? This had become an issue of crucial importance as city authority grew in the sixth and fifth centuries. Sophocles makes the dilemma more complex through his portrayal of the characters. Creon is hard, emotionally clumsy and inflexible. Antigone is also inflexible (in comparison to her more pliant sister Ismene, for instance) but expresses herself more nobly. The play ends tragically. Antigone commits suicide, as does Creon’s son who has been in love with her, and his wife, but Sophocles allows other characters in the play to consider the need for living flexibly within the world without losing one’s sense of overall purpose. An analogy is made with a ship. It has its purpose, to sail towards a destination, but it would never arrive if it tried to sail directly there in the face of the wind. It has to learn how to exploit the winds for its own ends. Sophocles is suggesting that inflexibility in support of absolute values may not be the best way of living. The play is discussed in detail by M. Nussbaum, The Fragility of Goodness (Cambridge, 1986), chap. 3.
The Suppliants by Aeschylus (performed in 463 B.C.) deals with a problem facing any city state (and many states today), how to deal with those seeking refuge from tyranny. The “Suppliants,” fifty daughters of Danaus, arrive in the city of Argos fleeing from the fifty sons of the king Aegyptus (of Egypt) who wish to marry them; their objections to the marriages are not explored but the king was a usurper of the Egyptian throne. The king of Argos is reluctant to shelter them—it could lead to war with Egypt. Yet the popular assembly of the city overrules him. Zeus is the protector of the suppliant and he must not be offended, so the welcome must be given. There are two issues here, that of acceptance of refugees and that of who should make decisions within a city. The Athenian audience must have watched with fascination as they heard of an assembly actually voting and carrying the day, and it was only two years later, in 461, that a revolution in the city led to the Athenian assembly of all its male citizens taking full control of Athens. So The Suppliants can be seen as a consideration of the issue, which must have been very much alive in the city when the play was acted.
The strength and importance of drama lay in its use of myth to take an issue out of contemporary politics or society and so defuse it. The audience could see the dilemma as an issue to be meditated on, and their reflections can be fed back, in a measured way, to the debates of everyday life. It is the sheer courage of the dramatists which most impresses. In his Helen (412), for instance, Euripides suggests that it was not really Helen but a phantom of her that was taken to Troy, and therefore the Trojan war was futile. All this when the Athenians had just learned of the appalling losses of their own Sicilian expedition, during which some 40,000 may have died. It is hard to imagine any twentieth-century state allowing its participation in war to be questioned in such an open way before the whole community.
27. The quotation on the “unmoved mover” comes from Aristotle’s Physics 259a. Aristotle provides the concept of a supreme “God” who may have initiated motion but who does not necessarily have any active relationship with the world thereafter. For Aristotle and monotheism, see M. Frede, “Monotheism and Pagan Philosophy,” in P. Athanassiadi and M. Frede, Pagan Monotheism in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 1999), pp. 44–50.
For introductions to the debates on the nature and powers of the gods see G. Kerferd, The Sophistic Movement (Cambridge, 1981), especially chap. 13, “Religion and the Gods,” and A. A. Long, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy (Cambridge, 1999), especially chap. 10 by S. Broadie, “Rational Theology.” See also S. Price, Religions of the Ancient Greeks (Cambridge, 1999), especially here chap. 7, “Greek Thinkers.” While it was believed by conservatives that the gods could intervene when outraged, the attitude of the Greeks in general was optimistic rather than pessimistic. “For they say that foolish decisions are typical of this city, but the gods turn up for the best whatever mistakes you make,” as the chorus in Aristophanes’ play Clouds put it. It is worth stressing that even centuries later when Augustine in the Latin west argued for the existence of original sin burdening humankind so heavily that even the power to reason had been corrupted, the idea never caught on in the Greek east.
28. Helen King’s study was published in London and New York, 1998.
29. Trans. A. Oksenberg Rorty.
1. There is a mass of new work on rhetoric, but a good place to start is G. Kennedy, A New History of Classical Rhetoric (Princeton, 1994); see chap. 1, “Introduction: The Nature of Rhetoric.” See also Robert Wardy, “Rhetoric,” in J. Brunschwig and G. E. R. Lloyd, eds., Greek Thought: A Guide to Classical Knowledge (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 2000), and Wardy’s longer consideration of the issues, The Birth of Rhetoric (London, 1996). There are also essays in I. Worthington, ed., Persuasion: Greek Rhetoric in Action (London and New York, 1994).
2. The speech which swayed the argument back towards leniency was made by one Diodotus. Part of the speech, as reported by Thucydides, is worth quoting in this context and as a paean to free speech and rational argument.
Haste and anger are, to my mind, the two greatest obstacles to wise counsel—haste, that usually goes with folly, anger, that is the mark of primitive and narrow minds. And anyone who maintains that words cannot be a guide to action must be either a fool or one with some personal interest at stake: he is a fool if he imagines that it is possible to deal with the uncertainties of the future by any other medium, and he is personally interested if his aim is to persuade you on into some disgraceful action, and knowing that he cannot make a good speech in a bad cause, he tries to frighten his opponents and his hearers by some good-sized pieces of misrepresentation . . . the good citizen, instead of trying to terrify the opposition, ought to prove his case in fair argument; and a wise state, without giving special honours to its best counsellors, will certainly not deprive them of the honour they already enjoy; and when a man’s advice is not taken, he should not even be disgraced, far less penalised.
Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War 3:42–3 (trans. R. Warner).
3. Quoted in Wardy, “Rhetoric,” p. 467.
4. The quotation is from Kennedy, A New History of Classical Rhetoric, p. 47. Kennedy discusses Quintilian on pp. 177–86. An excellent analysis of Isocrates’ views is to be found in chap. 5 of J. Ober, Political Dissent in Democratic Athens: Intellectual Critics of Popular Rule (Princeton and Chichester, Eng., 1998).
5. Quoted in Wardy, “Rhetoric,” p. 483. The original is to be found in Aristotle’s Rhetoric I:2:3 1335b.
6. For the issues surrounding Socrates’ death, see R. Parker, Athenian Religion: A History (Oxford, 1996), pp. 199–207.
7. On Plato, see R. M. Hare, Plato (Oxford, 1982), as an introduction. The essay on Plato by G. Press in R. Popkin, ed., The Pimlico History of Western Philosophy (New York, 1998; London, 1999), is also recommended.
8. Quoted in C. Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity (Cambridge, 1994), p. 19. This work is particularly useful because it sets Christian theology within its Greek philosophical background.
9. A full account of Plato’s doctrine of the soul is to be found in J. Cooper, “Plato’s Theory of Human Motivation,” in History of Philosophy Quarterly 1, no. 1 (January 1984). I am grateful to my son Barney for bringing this article to my attention.
10. Plato, The Republic 7.530 B–C. One should contrast Plato’s approach with Aristotle’s privileging of empirical observation over theory. As Aristotle puts it when discussing the reproduction of bees:
This then seems to be what happens with regard to the generation of bees, judging from theory (logos) and from what are thought to be the facts about them. But the facts have not been sufficiently ascertained, and if they ever are ascertained, then we must trust perception rather than theories, and theories too, so long as what they show agrees with what appears to be the case.
De Generatione Animalium 760 b. 27ff., quoted in G. E. R. Lloyd, Magic, Reason and Experience (Cambridge, 1979), p. 138.
11. If Plato had been right there would surely have been someone who would have left record of the Form of, say, Justice that others, using no more than the power of reason, would have agreed with totally. There is little evidence for this, although some Christian theologians would claim that there is. The problem lies in finding a relationship between a mathematical proof and the concept of, for example, “justice.” Plato would have argued that both could be found in the same way using deductive logic, although he accepted that the task of finding “justice” would be much more intellectually demanding. A mathematical proof starts from an agreed symbolic representation (for instance a drawing of a square divided into quarters) and a proof can be developed from there. All are agreed on the first principles (as set out in the drawing), and each step follows logically from the one before to the satisfaction of all. The proof fails as soon as one person can find a valid reason for disagreeing. While individuals can come up with instances of what they, as individuals, consider to be beautiful, it is hard to see how an agreed symbolic representation could ever be set out from which to start the process of deductive reasoning towards a Form of Beauty that has the same degree of truth as a mathematical proof. What has happened more often is that one figure or ruling elite has claimed to have found the Forms and then imposed them on others. The French revolutionary leader Robespierre, for instance, who, like his colleagues, was deeply influenced by his classical education, stated his political aims in absolutely Platonic terms: “the peaceful enjoyment of liberty and equality; the reign of eternal justice, whose laws are engraved, not in marble or stone, but in the hearts of all men, even in that of the slave who forgets them [compare Meno] and of the tyrant who rejects them.” When others disagreed with his interpretation of “Virtue” they were, in the manner recommended by Plato in his Laws, eliminated in the Terror. The classic book on all this is K. Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies (reprint, London, 1995). Of course, for many the sheer sparkle of Plato, and his method of using dialogues to explore all possible points of view, lead to all this being forgiven. The point is also made later in this book that Plato attempts to convince through reason (even though we may have doubts about the way he uses it) rather than by the power of emotion.
12. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1155a3. As an introduction to Aristotle’s ethics, see chap. 5, “Ethics and the Organisation of Desire,” in J. Lear, Aristotle: The Desire to Understand (Cambridge, 1988).
13. Nicomachean Ethics 1144b3.
14. The contrast is developed in the conclusion of the first part of The Passion of the Western Mind (London, 1996) by R. Tarnas.
1. The term “Hellenistic,” coined in the nineteenth century to describe the fusion of Greek and non-Greek, is given to the period between the death of Alexander (323) and the conquest of Egypt by Rome (30 B.C.). For a recent and comprehensive introduction to the period, see G. Shipley, The Greek World After Alexander, 323–30 B.C. (London, 2000).
2. See W. G. Runciman, “Doomed to Extinction: The Polis as an Evolutionary Dead-End,” in O. Murray and S. Price, eds., The Greek City from Homer to Alexander (Oxford, 1990). For a survey of the Greek world in the fourth century, see the later chapters of J. K. Davies, Democracy and Classical Greece, 2nd ed. (London, 1993).
3. For Alexander, a judicious life which avoids over-romanticization is by A. B. Bosworth, Conquest and Empire: The Reign of Alexander the Great (Cambridge, 1988).
4. See A. B. Bosworth, Alexander and the East: The Tragedy of Triumph (Oxford, 1996), for a study of the sources behind Alexander’s campaigns there.
5. See R. R. R. Smith, Hellenistic Sculpture (London, 1991), chap. 1, pp. 19–33.
6. On ruler cults in this period, see Shipley, The Greek World After Alexander, pp. 156–63. There is a good exposition of the theory of divine kingship in a (? third century A.D.) tract attributed to the Egyptian god Thoth in his Hellenistic guise of Hermes Trismegistus. (Hermes Trismegistus is credited with some forty-two books of spiritual wisdom.)
There are in the universe four regions . . . namely, heaven, the aether, the air, and the earth. Above, my son, in heaven dwell gods, over whom, as over all else likewise, rules the maker of the universe . . . and upon earth dwell men, over whom rules he who is king for the time being; for the gods, my son, cause to be born at the right time a man that is worthy to govern upon earth . . . he who is king on earth is the last of the four rulers, but the first of men. As long as he is on earth, he has no part in true deity; but as compared with other men, he has something exceptional, which is like to God.
Quoted in H. A. Drake, Constantine and the Bishops: The Politics of Intolerance (Baltimore and London, 2000), p. 128. Echoes of such statements survived to justify the Byzantine emperors’ role as representatives of God on earth.
7. The careful and critical work of A. B. Bosworth has done much to produce a balanced assessment of Alexander. One reason why Alexander’s reputation has remained high is the influence of the main surviving source for his life, Arrian’s, written in the second century A.D. In fact, Arrian based his life on one of Alexander’s commanders, Ptolemy, whose eulogistic account of Alexander’s campaigns was developed to boost his own claim to succession to Alexander in Egypt. (See A. B. Bosworth, From Arrian to Alexander: Studies in Historical Interpretation [Oxford, 1988], and A. B. Bosworth and E. J. Baynham, eds., Alexander the Great in Fact and Fiction [Oxford, 2000].)
See A. B. Bosworth, Conquest and Empire: The Reign of Alexander the Great (Cambridge, 1988), pp. 285–86 for Callisthenes’ opposition to proskynesis and pp. 118–19 for his death. For a sober assessment of Plutarch’s view that Alexander tried to create some form of unity between Greeks, see R. Baldry, The Greeks and the Unity of Mankind (Cambridge, 1965), chap. 4, esp. pp. 113–34. For an assessment of Plutarch’s eulogy, see also J. R. Hamilton, Plutarch’s Alexander: A Commentary (Bristol, 1999), pp. xxiv–xxxiii. Hamilton shows how it was a rhetorical display piece in which the speaker, here a young Plutarch, was expected to make the very best case possible, even at the risk, as here, of gross distortion of the reality. Adulation of Alexander was boosted in the nineteenth century by the Prussian historian Droysen’s claim that without Alexander the Greek world would have remained confined to the Aegean, and Christianity would have been unable to spread across the Mediterranean and Asia. The implication is that the pagan Alexander was sent by God to pave the way. Droysen’s view reached its apogée in the work of William Tarn. In his Alexander (Cambridge, 1948), Tarn makes the suggestion that
Alexander lifted the civilized world out of one groove and set in in another . . . In so far as the modern world derives its civilization from Greece, it largely owes it to Alexander that it had the opportunity . . . when at last Christianity showed the way to that spiritual unity after which men were feeling, there was ready to hand a medium for the new religion to spread in the common Hellenistic civilization of the “inhabited world.”
Even today, when we are much more sensitive to imperialist propaganda, there are those who see Alexander’s immediate legacy as positive, but on the whole the brutality of his conquests and the lack of vision beyond them is now being recognized. It was his successors who provided the stability within which Greek civilization could spread, and there is much evidence that it was not until the long Roman centuries that Greek culture penetrated below the surface of the native cultures of Asia. The Romans never swallowed the Alexander legend uncritically. In a bitter attack on Alexander in his History of Rome, Livy suggests that it was one thing for Alexander to conquer barbarians—if he had met the Romans the outcome would have been very different! (Livy, History of Rome 9, xviii) Cicero in his De Republica tells the story of a pirate captured by Alexander.
Alexander asked the fellow, “What is your idea in infesting the sea?” And the pirate answered, with uninhibited insolence, “The same as yours, in infesting the earth! But because I do it in a tiny craft, I’m called a pirate: because you have a mighty navy, you are called an emperor.”
De Republica 3.14.24.
8. Translation by P. Green from Apollonios Rhodios, The Argonautika (Berkeley and London, 1997), book 3, lines 760–65.
9. An introduction to Archimedes can be found in M. Bragg, On Giants’ Shoulders (London, 1998), chap. 1, a discussion of Archimedes’ achievements that includes a contribution by Geoffrey Lloyd. See also M. Kline, Mathematical Thought from Ancient to Modern Times, vol. 1 (New York and Oxford, 1972), chap. 5, which, besides discussing Archimedes, considers the work of Alexandrian mathematicians in general.
10. See, as an introduction to Epicureanism and Stoicism, A. A. Long, “Hellenistic Philosophy,” in R. Popkin, ed., The Pimlico History of Western Philosophy (New York, 1998; London, 1999), and C. Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity (Cambridge, 1995), chap. 5. Another excellent, and lively, survey of Stoicism is to be found in “Stoicism” by J. Brunschwig, in J. Brunschwig and G. E. R. Lloyd, eds., Greek Thought: A Guide to Classical Knowledge (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 2000), pp. 977–96. A much fuller and demanding study is M. Nussbaum, The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics (Princeton, 1994). A recent, well-received book on the difficult but important subject of Stoicism and free will is S. Bobzien, Determinism and Freedom in Stoic Philosophy (Oxford, 2000), while there is much on the relationship between the Stoics and emotion in R. Sorabji, Emotion and Peace of Mind: From Stoic Agitation to Christian Temptation (Oxford, 2000).
11. Much of the old way of life remained undisturbed, and it was only in the stable Roman centuries that followed that Greek culture penetrated “to the most remote of rural contexts.” See F. Millar, The Roman Near East 31 B.C.–A.D. 337 (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1993), especially the summing-up, pp. 523–32.
1. For the origins of Rome, see T. J. Cornell, The Beginnings of Rome (London, 1995), which takes the story up to 264 B.C. Essential for an understanding of Rome’s expansion is W. Harris, War and Imperialism in Republican Rome (Oxford, 1979).
2. In one early layer of the Roman forum, dating from the second quarter of the sixth century B.C., a sanctuary to the god Volcanus, an ancient Roman god of destructive, devouring fire (as, for instance, in volcanoes), has been uncovered. Among the votive deposits found in the sanctuary was a black-figure vase from Athens with a representation of the Greek god of fire and blacksmiths, Hephaestus. This shows at how early a date Greek and Roman mythology interacted. In later Roman mythology Volcanus and Hephaestus were merged. See M. Beard, J. North and S. Price, Religions of Rome (Cambridge, 1998), p. 12.
3. E. Gruen, Culture and National Identity in Republican Rome (Ithaca, 1992), is the essential introduction to the relationship between the Romans and Greek culture.
4. On Cicero, E. Rawson, Cicero: A Portrait (London, 1995), is a good starting point. There has been renewed interest in Cicero’s philosophy in recent years. See J. G. F. Powell, ed., Cicero the Philosopher (Oxford, 1995). The introductory essay by the editor covers the main issues.
5. A concise overview of these years can be found in D. Shotter, The Fall of the Roman Republic (London and New York, 1994).
6. C. Meier, Caesar (London, 1995), is a thorough and thoughtful biography of Julius Caesar.
7. The Philippics were called after the famous speeches made in fourth-century Athens by the orator Demosthenes in response to the growing power of Philip of Macedon.
8. For a general survey of these years see M. Goodman, The Roman World, 44 B.C.–A.D. 180 (London, 1997).
9. Among the manifestations of Augustus’ pietas was a return to a sterner sexual morality after the undoubted decadence of the late republic. While Greek sculptures of the god Priapus show him as phallic and randy, the Augustan equivalent is decently clothed and his energies are diverted towards a mass of children clambering over him. See K. Galinsky, Augustan Culture: An Interpretive Introduction (Princeton, 1996), p. 345. This is an essential book for those who wish to study the cultural effects of Augustus’ rule, as is P. Zanker’s The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus (Ann Arbor, 1988).
10. Galinsky, Augustan Culture, p. 197 with plan.
11. Paraphrase of the original by D. Ross, quoted ibid., p. 354. Sappho (seventh century B.C.) is, of course, the great Greek lyric poet from Lesbos; Alcaeus, her contemporary, another lyric poet from Lesbos. Callimachus was the highly erudite Hellenistic poet from Alexandria, probably the most influential of his period.
12. The translation is by Robert Fitzgerald.
13. Tacitus, the most astute of the Roman historians, had no illusions about the process that he describes in his account of his father-in-law Agricola’s period as governor in Britain.
Agricola had to deal with people living in isolation and ignorance, and therefore prone to fight: and his object was to accustom them to a life of peace and quiet by the provision of amenities. He therefore gave private encouragement and official assistance to the building of temples, public squares and good houses. He praised the energetic and scolded the slack; and competition for honour proved as effective as compulsion. Furthermore he educated the sons of the chiefs in the liberal arts . . . The result was that instead of loathing the Latin language they became eager to speak it effectively. In the same way, our national dress came into favour and the toga was everywhere to be seen. And so the population was led into the demoralising temptations of arcades, baths and sumptuous banquets. The unsuspecting Britons spoke of such novelties as “civilization,” when in fact they were only a feature of their enslavement.
Translation from Agricola, S. A. Handford, Penguin Classics.
14. These themes can be followed up in Janet Huskinson, ed., Experiencing Rome: Culture, Identity and Power in the Roman Empire (London, 2000). The process by which a particular family could be integrated into the administration of the empire can be seen through the descendants of a Gallic aristocrat, Epotsorovidius. After Caesar’s conquest of Gaul in the 50s B.C., Epotsorovidius’ son appears as a Roman citizen with the name Gaius Julius Agedomopas, an indication that his citizenship was granted by Caesar himself. Two generations later the family has become completely Romanized, and Latin may have become their first language. Gaius Julius Rufus, of the fourth generation, was a priest of the cult of Rome and Augustus at Lyons and a praefectus fabrorum, an army official concerned with building works. His wealth was such that he was able to choose from among the traditional repertoire of Roman buildings to donate an amphitheatre to Lyons and a triumphal arch to his native town, Mediolanum Santomum (the modern Saintes). Over time the conquered had become the patrons of the regime that had conquered them, and herein lay the reasons for the empire’s success.
15. The relatively detached approach taken by the Romans to Judaism can be sensed from this assessment by the historian Dio Cassius writing in the early third century A.D.:
They [the Jews] are distinguished from the rest of mankind in practically every detail of their lives, and especially in that they honour none of the other gods, but show extreme reverence for one particular deity. They have never had a statue of him even in Jerusalem itself, but believing him to be so unnameable and invisible, they worship him in the most extravagant way among humans. They built him a large and splendid temple . . . and dedicated to him the day of Saturn, on which, among other peculiar observances, they undertake no serious occupation.
Dio Cassius’s History 39, xvii. Compare this assessment with the frenzied outbursts of John Chrysostom quoted in chap. 17.
16. Censuses and assessments for tax were made when a province was first incorporated into the empire. There is no record of any empire-wide census. The assessment was made on land and property so taxpayers were assessed in the area where they held land, not in the town in which they or their forebears originated. At the time of Jesus’ birth (before the death of Herod the Great and therefore c. 4 B.C.), Nazareth in Galilee was not under direct Roman control and so was not subject to Roman taxation. There was certainly a census by Quirinius in Judaea in A.D. 6, and doubtless Luke had heard of this. However, whether Jesus was born in Bethlehem or not—and Matthew relates separately (without any mention of the census) that he was born there—it would not have been a census that required Mary and Joseph to travel there.
17. Compared to the wealthy provinces of Asia Minor to the north and Egypt to the south, Judaea was not a major contributor of taxes. In fact, it has even been suggested that it failed to provide enough taxes to cover the costs of its own administration. The main objective of the Romans was stability in the region, and they knew that this came from supporting local elites, not provoking them. Nevertheless, in Judaea, as elsewhere, the imposition of a new tax system when Rome took control in A.D. 6 was met with opposition. What really offended the Jews, however, was religious provocation, above all any intrusion in the sacred areas of Jerusalem. For the interaction of Judaism and Rome, The Cambridge History of Judaism, vol. 3, ed. W. Horbury, W. D. Davies and J. Sturdy (Cambridge, 1999), provides the essential background.
18. Philo, Embassy to Gaius, trans. F. A. Colson (Loeb Classical Library), 302.
19. The Romans were so disillusioned by the problems of governing Judaea that in 41 they even handed back the province to a grandson of Herod, Agrippa. Agrippa was popular, but he died in 44 and direct Roman rule was restored. By now heavy taxation (Jews had to pay both Roman and Jewish taxes) and tensions between the rich, who benefited from the wealth coming into Jerusalem for the Temple, and the poor were fuelling resentments that could not be contained. In A.D. 66 a massive if uncoordinated revolt broke out. Roman retaliation was thorough and brutal. Perhaps a million died in the repression, and the Temple itself was sacked by Titus, the son of the emperor Vespasian. Some of his plunder can be seen on reliefs on the triumphal arch in the Forum in Rome erected to celebrate the victory. Another revolt in 132–35 (under the emperor Hadrian) led to Jews being excluded from Jerusalem and the refounding of the city as a Roman colony. Judaea then remained a subdued province of the empire, its priests turning inwards to intensive study of sacred texts of the Torah (the Law), until the Arab invasion of A.D. 640 that brought the loss of the province to the empire.
1. From Plutarch, “On the Face of the Orb of the Moon,” translated in the Loeb edition of the Moralia, vol. 12, by H. Cherniss. Discussed in T. Rihill, Greek Science (Oxford, 1999), pp. 76–80.
2. Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap. 2, Penguin Classics.
3. See S. Swain, Hellenism and Empire: Language, Classicism and Power in the Greek World, A.D. 50–250 (Oxford, 1996), for a full survey of the movement and its main practitioners. Plutarch is covered in chap. 5. For the second sophistic from an art historian’s point of view, see J. Elsner, Imperial Rome and Christian Triumph: The Art of the Roman Empire, A.D. 100–450 (Oxford, 1998), chap. 7.
4. See G. Kennedy, A New History of Classical Rhetoric (Princeton, 1994), pp. 233–37, for Dio Chrysostom and this speech, which is translated in the Loeb edition of his works.
5. On Nero, a fine biography is M. Griffin, Nero: The End of a Dynasty (London, 1984).
6. Hadrian had certainly been very close to the emperor Trajan, his predecessor, serving as a governor in two provinces, including Syria, and on the imperial staff as a speech writer, but his proclamation as emperor immediately after Trajan’s death smacked of opportunism, and many believed that he had usurped the post. When he surrendered some of Trajan’s conquests, there was even more antagonism, and four former consuls had to be executed for plotting to overthrow him. Many among the Roman elite refused to forgive him for the executions. Hadrian was never at ease in Rome, the centre of hostility to him, but in any case he was a wanderer by nature. Twelve of his twenty-one years of rule were spent in the provinces.
Hadrian’s surrender of territory was, in fact, a brave move. He grasped the important fact that expansion for its own sake was self-defeating. Trajan had become preoccupied with the ambition of emulating Alexander—shortly before he died he had broken down in tears at the mouth of the Euphrates when it became clear that an unsettled empire behind him forced him to give up a campaign to the east. Hadrian not only surrendered the newly conquered provinces, he also put in place a policy of consolidating the frontiers of the existing empire. Along the northern borders, always vulnerable to raiding Germanic tribes, he strengthened the limes, a military road overlooked by watchtowers joined by palisades. In Britain he created an even more formidable barrier between Roman and barbarian, Hadrian’s Wall, somewhat south of what is now the border between England and Scotland. As if this was not enough, he appreciated that legionaries stationed behind defensible frontiers would soon become unfit and demoralized. He visited the legions regularly, and insisted that they keep up their training. A hundred years after his death he was still remembered for his “training and disciplining of the whole army.” Anthony Birley, Hadrian, the Restless Emperor (London and New York, 1997), p. 303, quoting Cassius Dio.
7. Quoted, along with other assessments, ibid.
8. For Hadrian’s villa, see W. MacDonald and J. Pinto, Hadrian’s Villa and Its Legacy (New Haven and London, 1995). For Hadrian and the cities, see M. T. Boatwright, Hadrian and the Cities of the Roman Empire (Princeton and Chichester, Eng., 2000).
9. For the Antonine Altar, see S. Price, Rituals and Power: The Roman Imperial Cult in Asia Minor (Cambridge, 1984), pp. 158–59 (complete with illustration of a reconstruction). Most of the remaining fragments are now in the Kunsthistorische Museum in Vienna.
10. The gratitude that members of the Greek elite felt toward the Romans was memorably expressed by one of the leaders of the second sophistic, Aelius Aristides, in his famous panegyric to Rome delivered in the city in A.D. 150. Aristides talks of the cities of the empire relaxing in contentment now that all their ancient quarrels with each other are over.
You continue to care for the Greeks as for foster parents. You protect them; you raise them up as though prostrate . . . Their energies are now focused in a frenzy of rebuilding. While all other competition between cities has ceased, but a single rivalry obsesses every one of them—to appear as beautiful and attractive as possible. Every place is full of gymnasia, fountains, gateways, temples, shops and schools . . . All the monuments, works of art and adornments in them mean glory for you . . .
A long quotation from this speech, from which this extract is taken, can be found in N. Lewis and M. Reinhold, Roman Civilization, Sourcebook II: The Empire (New York, 1995), pp. 135–38.
11. For a mathematician’s assessment of Diophantus’ achievement, see M. Kline, Mathematical Thought from Ancient to Modern Times, vol. 1 (New York and Oxford, 1972), pp. 138–44.
12. For Galen, see Roy Porter, The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present (London, 1997), pp. 73–77; G. E. R. Lloyd, Greek Science After Aristotle (London, 1973), and chap. 6 of Rihill, Greek Science. The quotation on Galen as both logician and physician comes from G. E. R. Lloyd, “Demonstration in Galen,” in M. Frede and G. Striker, eds., Rationality in Greek Thought (Oxford, 1996), p. 256.
13. The translation is by Peter Green. Compare Einstein’s words from his Ideas and Opinions: “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true science.” For Ptolemy, see Lloyd, Greek Science After Aristotle, the source of his comment, as well as an introductory history of astronomy such as M. Hoskin, ed., The Cambridge Concise History of Astronomy (Cambridge, 1999). The major contribution that Ptolemy made to geography is also being recognized. The review quoted here of Ptolemy’s Geography: An Annotated Translation of the Theoretical Chapters, ed. and trans. J. Lennert Berggren and Alexander Jones (Princeton, 2002), is by Peter Green, from London Review of Books, Feb. 21, 2002, vol. 24, no. 4, p. 35.
14. An essential book on Roman religion is M. Beard, J. North and S. Price, Religions of Rome (Cambridge, 1998). For a briefer introduction, see James Rives, “Religion in the Roman Empire,” in Janet Huskinson, ed., Experiencing Rome: Culture, Identity and Power in the Roman Empire (London, 2000).
15. Available in Penguin Classics, trans. E. J. Kenny.
16. For theos hypsistos, see Stephen Mitchell, “The Cult of Theos Hypsistos,” in P. Athanassiadi and M. Frede, eds., Pagan Monotheism in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 1999), pp. 81–148. There is an early-fourth-century gravestone from Laodicea Catacecaumena which reads, “First I shall sing a hymn of praise for God, the one who sees all, second I shall sing a hymn for the first angel, Jesus Christ.” Stephen Mitchell, Anatolia: Land, Men and Gods in Asia Minor, vol. 2 (Oxford, 1993), p. 46.
17. The quotation, which comes from Origen’s Contra Celsum 5:41, is to be found in the introduction to Athanassiadi and Frede, eds., Pagan Monotheism, p. 8. See also the quotation from the so-called Theosophy of Tubingen in Mitchell, Anatolia, vol. 2, p. 44:
There is one god in the whole universe, who has set boundaries to the wheels of heavenly rotation with divine ordinances, who has distributed measures of equal weight to the hours and the moments, and has set bonds which link and balance the turnings of the heavens with one another, whom we call Zeus, from whom comes the living eternity, and Zeus bearer of all things, life-providing steward of breath, himself, proceeding from the one into the one.
18. Athanassiadi and Frede, eds., Pagan Monotheism, pp. 185–86 for the quote of Maximus and p. 20 for the quotation from the editors’ introduction. See further chap. 11 of this book for how the concept of the supreme deity was used by Constantine.
19. For Mithraism, see chap. 6 of Beard, North and Price, Religions of Rome.
20. “Middle Platonism” and “Neoplatonism” are terms that were developed in the nineteenth century. Their practitioners would have simply seen themselves as Platonists. Introduction can be found in R. Popkin, ed., The Pimlico History of Western Philosophy (New York, 1998; London, 1999), “Middle Platonism” by H. Tarrant and “Plotinus and Neoplatonism” by L. Gerson. There is a wealth of useful material in C. Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity (Cambridge, 1994). An important passage for Middle Platonists was the following from The Republic 509 B.
The sun . . . not only makes the things we see visible, but causes the processes of generation, growth and nourishment, without itself being such a process . . . The Good therefore may be said to be the source not only of the intelligibility of the objects of knowledge, but also of their existence and reality; yet it is not itself identical with reality, but is beyond reality, and superior to it in dignity and power.
Translation H. D. P. Lee. Note the analogy between the sun and “the Good,” the definition of the sun/Good as an active, nurturing force, which is, however, independent from the process of nurturing, and the definition of “the Good” as “beyond reality.” These were all important concepts in Middle Platonism.
21. The point is made by Ramsay MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eight Centuries (New Haven and London, 1997), p. 78. Looking at oracles from the third century, Stephen Mitchell (Anatolia, vol. 2, p. 44) stresses:
One notion that these oracles should dispel at once is that there was any dichotomy in the middle and later empire between rational thinkers, who based their religious and philosophical ideas on the exercise of a logical critique, and devotees of the god or of the gods, who relied for their religious intuitions on a form of divine inspiration which was denied to others . . . There is no evidence for any conflict between those who adhered to intellectual reasoning and those who simply turned to the god for instruction.
The tradition of trying to reconcile Neoplatonist principles with empirical evidence was carried on in the works of Proclus, the fifth-century Athenian philosopher, the last of the “great” Greek thinkers. See L. Siorvanes, Proclus: Neo-Platonic Philosophy and Science (Edinburgh, 1996), especially chaps. 4 and 5.
22. See Athanassiadi and Frede, eds., Pagan Monotheism, p. 15, for examples.
23. For instance, one can trace the career of one Quintus Lollius Urbicus, son of a Berber landowner in the province of Africa. He served first in Asia, then in Judaea, where he was involved in putting down the revolt of 132–35, then along the Rhine and Danube before being made governor in Britain. He ended his career as prefect of the city of Rome. Many of these themes can be traced in M. Goodman, The Roman World, 44 B.C.–A.D. 180 (London, 1997), and J. Huskinson, ed., Experiencing Rome (London, 2000).
24. Beard, North and Price, Religions of Rome, p. 225.
25. It is interesting in this context that one of the most important Stoic philosophers of the early second century A.D., Epictetus, was a freed slave, yet he may have been consulted by one emperor, Hadrian, and was certainly an influence on another, Marcus Aurelius.
1. In instructions to Julianus, proconsul of Africa, concerning the Manicheans. Quoted in S. Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery (London, 1985), p. 153.
2. The third-century crisis tends to get neglected in accounts of the Roman empire as it is too late for many general books on the empire and too early for those on late antiquity. The Cambridge Ancient History volume on the period is still unpublished. See my Egypt, Greece and Rome: Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean (Oxford, 1996), chap. 26, for a short overview (which draws, with his permission, on the chapter by John Drinkwater which will eventually appear in the Cambridge Ancient History).
3. Williams, Diocletian, is a thorough treatment of Diocletian and is drawn on heavily for this chapter. See also Averil Cameron, The Later Roman Empire (London, 1993).
4. See S. MacCormack, Art and Ceremony in Late Antiquity (Berkeley and London, 1981), p. 107 and plate 10. This is an essential book for the study of the imperial ceremonies and creation of the emperor as a semi-divine figure.
5. The point is made by J. W. Liebeschuetz, Continuity and Change in Roman Religion (Oxford, 1979), p. 243.
6. M. Beard, J. North, S. Price, Religions of Rome, vol. 1 (Cambridge, 1998), p. 243. See also J. Rives, Religion and Authority in Roman Carthage from Augustus to Constantine (Oxford, 1995), in which he states (p. 259) that
[Decius’] motive seems to have been a desire to join together, by force if necessary, all the inhabitants of the empire in one religious act. This was no doubt on one level an attempt to win back the favour of the gods in a time of crisis, but on another to establish among the inhabitants of the empire some sense of a shared religious identity.
7. Quoted in Williams, Diocletian, p. 198.
8. Without anticipating the argument, the following quotation from Rives, Religion and Authority, p. 251, is helpful.
The fact that the great persecution of the Tetrarchs and the conversion of Constantine took place within a decade of each other was no coincidence, but a reflection of the ambivalence of the imperial elite. For their part, the leaders of the Christian community were increasingly ambivalent in their own attitudes towards the imperial government. To a large extent they viewed it as a source of oppression, but as their own concern with authority grew, they began to appreciate its exercise of a sort of authority that they lacked. As a result, Constantine discovered after his conversion that he shared many concerns with the leaders of the church.
1. There have been many scholars involved in reconstructing the life and teachings of Jesus within his Jewish heritage. The three I have drawn on here are Geza Vermes, W. D. Davies and E. P. Sanders. See, for instance, E. P. Sanders and W. D. Davies, “Jesus; From the Jewish Point of View,” in William Horbury, W. D. Davies and John Sturdy, The Cambridge History of Judaism, vol. 3 (Cambridge, 1999). One result of a deeper understanding of the Jewish roots of Christianity has been to defuse the anti-Semitism that has scarred the Christian experience so deeply. In 1999 the Catholic Church recognized “the weaknesses” shown “by so many of her sons and daughters” in this respect (Memory and Reconciliation: The Church and the Faults of the Past, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Vatican, December 1999), although the Church fell short of assuming any responsibility as an institution for teaching anti-Semitism. Jews themselves increasingly feel able to reclaim Jesus as part of their own inheritance. (It is always instructive, however, to read the entry “Jesus” in a dictionary of Judaism.) Here is a rare example where long years of patient academic study of ancient documents have proved able to dissolve deep-rooted prejudices (although no one, Christian or not, with a knowledge of European history can have failed to reflect on the underlying long-term causes of the Holocaust, which took part deep in a predominantly Christian Europe).
2. G. Vermes, The Changing Faces of Jesus (London, 2000), p. 258.
3. There is, of course, a mass of material on the Gospels. A useful starting point for contemporary thinking is the relevant entries in F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed. (Oxford, 1997), and M. Coogan and B. Metzger, eds., The Oxford Companion to the Bible (Oxford and New York, 1993). See also, for an overview, J. Court and K. Court, The New Testament World (Cambridge, 1999).
4. For a summary of Jewish views on the afterlife, see L. Grabbe, Judaic Religion in the Second Temple Period (London and New York, 2000), chap. 12, “Eschatologies and Ideas of Salvation.” See also the entry “Gehenna” in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Adrian Hastings, writing on “hell” in A. Hastings, ed., The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought (Oxford and New York, 2000), notes: “It is especially the judgement scene as described in Matthew 25:31–46, one of the most influential of biblical passages, which has established the doctrine of hell, both theologically and for public imagination.” In particular, Augustine, who reinforced the concept of eternal punishment for western Christianity, used this text as backing.
5. The quotation is taken from Court and Court, The New Testament World, p. 207. See this book for a discussion of all the Gospels and the contexts in which they were written. The fullest exposition of the essential Judaism of Matthew’s community is to be found in D. C. Sim, The Gospel of Matthew and Christian Judaism (Edinburgh, 1998). Sim agrees with the traditional placing of Matthew’s community in Antioch and argues strongly that it should be seen as a sect within Judaism.
6. E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus (Harmondsworth, 1993), is a good starting point. A very well illustrated recent survey is J. R. Porter, Jesus Christ: The Jesus of History, the Christ of Faith (London, 1999). The Cambridge Companion to Jesus, ed. Markus Bockmuehl (Cambridge, 2001), has a series of essays on the quest for the historical Jesus. There is broad agreement in the Gospels over the “baptism” of Jesus by John the Baptist, although some scholars believe that Jesus was originally a follower of John’s and it was only later that the account of the baptism was developed to give him a higher status than John. The birth stories associated with Jesus are full of contradictions, and it is difficult to find any scholarly agreement, even over whether he was born in Bethlehem.
7. See R. Horsley, “Jesus and Galilee: The Contingencies of a Renewal Movement,” in E. Mayes, ed., Galilee Through the Centuries: Confluence of Cultures (Winona Lake, Ind., 1999). In his earlier work on Galilee, Bandits, Prophets and Messiahs: Popular Movements at the Time of Jesus (New York, 1985), Horsley explored the social tensions in Galilee in Jesus’ time and related his teachings to them. There is a mass of background material on first-century Galilee in E. W. Stegemann and W. Stegemann, The Jesus Movement: A Social History of Its First Century (Edinburgh, 1999). There was certainly a tradition of unrest in Galilee— Galileans were seen as making good fighters and providing revolutionary leaders, and many of the leaders of the Jewish revolt of A.D. 66 were from that area.
8. For the relationship between Galilean and Judaean Judaism, see the detailed study by M. Goodman, “Galilean Judaism and Judaean Judaism,” chap. 19 in Horbury, Davies and Sturdy, eds., The Cambridge History of Judaism, vol. 3. The issue is also discussed by Vermes, The Changing Faces of Jesus, pp. 225–26.
9. A useful introduction is to be found in the entry “Judaism of the First Century A.D.,” in Coogan and Metzger, eds., The Oxford Companion to the Bible, Fuller treatments of particular groups are to be found in Horbury, Davies and Sturdy, eds., The Cambridge History of Judaism.
10. The quotation on “children of light” and “darkness” comes from Dead Sea Scroll texts I QS I 3f 9f and is quoted in Otto Betz, “The Essenes,” chap. 15 in Horbury, Davies and Sturdy, eds., The Cambridge History of Judaism. The quotation on liberation comes from the same texts, 94Q521, and is from Vermes, The Changing Faces of Jesus, p. 17.
11. As an introduction to the concept, see the entries for “Messiah” in F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford History of the Christian Church, and Coogan and Metzger, eds., The Oxford Companion to the Bible. A much fuller analysis from a Jewish perspective is to be found in chap. 13, “Messiahs,” in Grabbe, Judaic Religion. See also S. Freyne, Galilee and Gospel (Tubingen, 2000), chap. 11, “Messiah and Galilee,” where Freyne considers Messianism in a specifically Galilean context.
12. M. Allen Powell, The Jesus Debate (Oxford, 1999), reviews the various historical interpretations of Jesus’ life and shows just how diverse the approaches are. Frances Young’s point is made in “A Cloud of Witnesses,” in J. Hick, ed., The Myth of God Incarnate, 2nd ed. (London, 1993), p. 22. It is interesting to find that the theological presentations of Jesus have not obscured his essential humanity. “They seem to say he was a goodish kind of man,” says a Victorian costermonger interviewed by Henry Mayhew in his London Labour and the London Poor (London, 1861–62), “but if he says as how a cove’s to forgive a feller who hits you, I should say he know’d nothing about it” (vol. 1, pp. 21, 40).
13. Fredriksen’s point comes from her Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews (London, 2000), p. 268.
14. On “the kingdom,” see the exhaustive discussion in E. P. Sanders and W. D. Davies, “Jesus; From the Jewish Point of View,” in Horbury, Davies and Sturdy, eds., The Cambridge History of Judaism, pp. 636–49. Richard Horsley’s comment is to be found in “Jesus and Galilee: The Contingencies of a Renewal Movement,” in Mayes, ed., Galilee Through the Centuries, p. 68.
15. Sanders and Davies, “Jesus; From the Jewish Point of View,” p. 676. Geza Vermes’ views on the “Son of Man” title, of which he has made a particular study, are summarized in his The Changing Faces of Jesus, pp. 38–41 and 175–77.
16. The subject is well covered by E. P. Sanders in his “Contention and Opposition in Galilee,” chap. 14 in The Historical Figure of Jesus (Harmondworth, 1993). The reasons for John’s execution are also discussed, pp. 93–95.
17. The responsibility for arresting Jesus has been placed by scholars on virtually every group including Jews outside the priesthood, the priesthood, and the Romans (see Sanders and Davies, “Jesus; From the Jewish Point of View,” p. 668, for the range of interpretations), but the central role of Caiaphas, who was responsible for keeping order in the city, seems likely. Richard Horsley makes the following point:
Jesus’ agenda of renewing Israel required what must be seen as a challenge to illegitimate rulers and/or as an attempt to reach out to the rest of Israel from the capital. Israelite tradition was rich with prophetic precedents of challenge to and condemnation of—or simply laments over—the ruling institutions and their families.
“Jesus and Galilee: The Contingencies of a Renewal Movement” in Mayes, Galilee Through the Centuries, p. 73.
18. The earliest representation is actually an anti-Christian taunt from a third-century graffito in Rome mocking a Christian called Alexamenos, who is shown worshipping a donkey hanging from a cross. One of the earliest “public” Christian representations, on the fifth-century wooden door of Santa Sabina in Rome, shows Christ with his arms outstretched and nail marks in them but no actual cross behind him. The elaboration of Christ’s suffering on the cross was a much later development in Christian iconography. The issue is well dealt with in Robin Margaret Jensen, Understanding Early Christian Art (London and New York, 2000), chap. 5, “Images of the Suffering Redeemer.” 19. See chap. 17, “Epilogue: The Resurrection” in E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus (Harmondsworth, 1993). For a traditional perspective, see Markus Bockmuehl, “Resurrection,” chap. 7 in Bockmuehl, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Jesus. In her book The Gnostic Gospels (London, 1980), chap. 1, E. Pagels suggests a battle for control over the resurrection experience, one in which Peter attempts to claim the earliest experience of the resurrection in order to justify his leadership of the church. This explains why Paul, who reports Peter’s claim that he was the first, is also so keen to equate his own experience on the road to Damascus with those of the disciples. Pagels suggests that the Catholic Church was to insist on the primacy of Peter’s experience of the resurrection, followed by that of the remaining Apostles, in order to sustain the idea of apostolic succession, so crucial to upholding church hierarchy and tradition.
From earliest times concerns have been raised over the credibility of the resurrection accounts. They were dismissed by pagans as “a fable or the report of a hysterical woman.” The theologian Origen (who will be discussed in detail in chap. 10) made a Platonic distinction between the few who could grasp the allegorical meaning of the resurrection, “that in the body there lies a certain principle which is not corrupted from which the body is raised in corruption”—not the same body that died but a body appropriate to the new and immortal life—and the many who could only grasp a literal explanation (that Jesus’ actual body was raised) “preached in the churches for the simpleminded and for the ears of the common crowd who are led on to lead better lives by their belief.” (See Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100–600) [Chicago and London, 1971], pp. 30 and 48.)
Powell, The Jesus Debate, p. 191, notes that the Jesus Seminar, a group of theologians and historians who vote on contentious issues in Jesus’ life, decided by “a large majority” that Jesus’ resurrection did not involve the resuscitation of a corpse. (Note, however, that the Jesus Seminar is regarded as radical by traditionalists.) This is in line with Paul’s view. However, if the risen Jesus was not his own corpse resuscitated, where did this go? The earliest account (Mark 16:1–8, the last verses of the original Gospel) suggests that when the disciples came across the opened tomb, there was a man in white robes inside telling them they would see the risen Jesus in Galilee. There is a possible explanation in terms of Caiaphas’ own desperate need to deal with Jesus’ followers without further trouble. So long as they believed his actual body was in the tomb, they could be expected to congregate there and keep the movement alive. There is increasing evidence, archaeological and otherwise, of “cults of the dead” in Palestine during this period, which would explain why Jesus’ tomb might become a centre of cult worship. See L. Grabbe, Priests, Prophets, Divines, Sages: A Socio-Historical Study of Religious Specialists in Ancient Israel (Valley Forge, Pa., 1995), pp. 141–45. Taking the body out (and making it clear that it had gone by leaving the tomb open) would dissolve this possibility, but Caiaphas, anxious to settle things down while Pilate was still in Jerusalem, needed to go further. He had to find a way of persuading the disciples to return home to Galilee, out of his jurisdiction and back into that of Herod Antipas. So a messenger is left telling them that the body is gone but Jesus would rise in Galilee if they would return there. If there is any truth in this account it was, of course, essential that Jesus’ body was not produced by Caiaphas or his associates, as it would undermine any reason for the disciples returning to Galilee. One assumes that there would be no incentive for preserving it anyway. Matthew suggests that Caiaphas used Roman guards on the tomb so that the disciples would not take Jesus’ body away, but when the body was discovered missing, these were bribed by the chief priests to tell Pilate that the body had been taken by the disciples. There could be hidden in this story an attempt by the chief priests to cover up the fact that they had arranged the body’s removal.
Matthew’s account is repeated with elaboration in the so-called Gospel of Peter, a fragment of which was found in the nineteenth century. It probably dates from the second century A.D. Here the author talks of the elders approaching Pilate for a guard, as Matthew does (in other words, the Gospel appears to draw on an early source), but adds the detail that there were crowds around the tomb on the Sabbath following the crucifixion. The guards seal up the tomb, but that night the stone is rolled away, and three men, two of them supporting another (the body of Jesus?), are seen to emerge. As in Matthew’s Gospel, the centurion and the soldiers are commanded not to repeat what they have seen. The text of the Gospel of Peter is to be found in R. E. Brown, The Death of the Messiah (London, 1994), vol. 2, pp. 1318–21.
A fuller historical study of the resurrection would need to examine the many other accounts of charismatic leaders who had been “seen” by their followers after their deaths.
20. Jewish scholars have not shared this perspective. For a Jewish view on the concept of the “suffering Messiah,” see L. Grabbe, Judaic Religion in the Second Temple Period (London and New York, 2000), who concludes his analysis of the texts (p. 291), including the Dead Sea Scrolls: “As far as can be determined from present textual evidence, the New Testament view of Jesus as both a messiah and one who suffered and died for the sins of his people was developed from the experience of the early church and has no precedent as such in Judaism.” He notes (p. 290) that the “servant of Isaiah 40–55 was not a messianic figure in its original context.”
21. It has been suggested that Saul adopted the name Paul, essentially a Roman name, after his conversion of Sergius Paulus, the proconsul of Cyprus, Acts 13:4–12. See S. Mitchell, Anatolia: Land, Men and Gods in Asia Minor, vol. 2 (Oxford, 1993), pp. 6–8. Mitchell suggests that Sergius Paulus, who came from Pisidian Antioch in the south of the Roman province of Galatia, was the impetus for Paul’s missionary journeys to the Galatians in that after his conversion he would have been able to provide Paul with contacts, letters of introduction and other assistance.
1. I have drawn heavily on E. P. Sanders, Paul (Oxford, 1991), for this chapter, and this short biography provides an excellent starting point. Further sources are cited in the following notes. Paula Fredriksen sums up the problem of Paul’s enduring authority as follows: “The problem of history did not resolve itself as Paul so fervently believed it would. What arrived was not the kingdom but the Church, and Paul came to serve as the foundation for something he certainly never envisioned: orthodox ecclesiastical tradition.” From “Paul and Augustine: Conversion Narratives, Orthodox Traditions, and the Retrospective Self,” Journal of Theological Studies 37 (1986): 31. For a recent and comprehensive introduction to Paul’s theology, see J. Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle (Edinburgh, 1998).
2. Many scholars doubt that Paul was born a Roman citizen. For discussion as to how Paul might have become one, see R. Wallace and W. Williams, The Three Worlds of Paul of Tarsus (London, 1998), pp. 137–46. See also the important article by J. Barclay, “Paul Among Diaspora Jews: Anomaly or Apostate,” Journal of the Study of the New Testament 60 (1995): 89–120.
3. Barclay, “Paul Among Diaspora Jews,” p. 105, for the quotation on Paul’s Greek. On Paul’s links to the Essenes, M. Hengel puts it as follows:
Paul is akin to the Qumran writings in his basic eschatological dualist attitude, his sense of an imminent end and of the concealed presence of salvation, the eschatological gift of the spirit, which makes it possible to interpret scriptures in terms of the eschatological present, the predestination bound up with God’s election and the inability of human beings to secure salvation by themselves—a feature which was controversial in contemporary Judaism.
From “The Pre-Christian Paul” in J. Lieu, J. North and T. Rajak, eds., The Jews Among Pagans and Christians in the Roman Empire (London and New York, 1992), pp. 40–41. Paul was one of those people who was desperate to belong and to express his commitment. The similarities to the Essenes in his eschatology, his language, his commitment to celibacy and his attitudes to those who offend (see the Corinthian who lived with his stepmother, below) make it possible that he was a member of this sect before “conversion,” in much the same way as Augustine found a temporary resting place in Manicheism. It has to be stressed that there is no evidence for Paul’s involvement with the Essenes and most commentators do not even raise the issue.
4. See, for instance, the alternative chronologies in J. Becker, Paul: Apostle to the Gentiles, trans. O. C. Dean, Jr. (Louisville, 1993), chap. 2, and Jerome Murphy O’Connor, Paul, a Critical Life (Oxford, 1996), chap. 1.
5. The issue of the righteous Gentiles and Judaism is discussed in depth by Alan Segal, “Universalism in Judaism and Christianity,” in Troels Engbury-Pedersen, ed., Paul in His Hellenistic Context (Edinburgh, 1994). On an inscription found at the city of Aphrodisias, possibly third century A.D., which records a list of benefactors from the Jewish community in the city, ninety Jews are named and alongside them sixty-five “god-fearers” (theosebeis). Nine of the “god-fearers” were members of the city council. This suggests, alongside material given in Acts, that “god-fearers” were not only numerous in the Jewish communities but also often influential members of the community. One might even argue that the “god-fearers” were a means through which the Jews mediated and sustained their position within the local community. See S. Mitchell, Anatolia: Land, Men and Gods in Asia Minor, vol. 2 (Oxford, 1993), p. 32, for details of the Aphrodisias inscription.
6. On Apollos, see O’Connor, Paul, pp. 276 and 281. The quotation from Barrett is taken from his A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians (London, 1971), p. 211.
7. Gronbech is quoted in J. D. Moores, Westling with Rationality in Paul (Cambridge, 1995), p. 1. “A rhetoric of the heart” is the view of E. Norden, quoted in Barclay, “Paul Among Diaspora Jews,” p. 105, where the quotation about Paul’s “rudimentary knowledge of Greek literature or philosophy” comes from.
8. S. Mitchell suggests that the “Unknown God” was theos hypsistos, who was described as the god “not admitting of a name, known by many names.” See Mitchell’s “The Cult of Theos Hypsistos,” in P. Athanassiadi and M. Frede, eds., Pagan Monotheism in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 1999), p. 122.
9. See Barclay, “Paul Among Diaspora Jews,” p. 108. The quotation is also by Barclay (p. 114), drawing on the view of Richard Hays from the latter’s Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (New Haven and London, 1989). A wide-ranging study of the relationship of Paul and Jewish apocalyptic teachings is to be found in M. C. de Boer, “Paul and Apocalyptic Eschatology,” in John J. Collins, ed., The Encyclopaedia of Apocalypticism, vol. 1 (New York, 1998).
10. Sanders, Paul, p. 84. An excellent introduction to Paul’s relationship with Judaism is provided by W. D. Davies, “Paul from a Jewish Point of View,” in W. Horbury, W. D. Davies and J. Sturdy, eds., The Cambridge History of Judaism, vol. 3 (Cambridge, 1999), chap. 21. The section on Paul and the Law (pp. 702–14) is especially good on Paul’s complex and ambiguous attitude to the Law.
11. See J. Macquarrie, Jesus Christ in Modern Thought (London and Philadelphia, 1990), pp. 55–68, for the debate in relation to Paul’s writings, and G. Vermes, chap. 4, “The Christ of Paul: Son of God and Universal Redeemer of Mankind,” in The Changing Faces of Jesus (London, 2000). See also the discussion in Frances Young, “A Cloud of Witnesses,” in J. Hick, ed., The Myth of God Incarnate, 2nd ed. (London, 1993), pp. 20–22.
12. See Vermes, The Changing Faces of Jesus, p. 85, for this idea. In the later second century, Melito, bishop of Sardis, followed up the idea, writing, “He [Jesus] carried the wood upon his shoulders and he was led up to be slain like Isaac by his father. But Christ suffered, whereas Isaac did not suffer; for he was the model of the Christ who was going to suffer.” Quoted in Robin Margaret Jensen, Understanding Early Christian Art (London and New York, 2000), p. 146.
13. See Sanders, Paul, pp. 78–79, for the background to this idea. It has to be remembered that sacrifices were important social rituals that probably served to legitimize the killing of domestic animals. To see them as unnecessary acts of cruelty, as implied in many Christian critiques of sacrifice, is wrong. Animals had to be killed somehow if the community was to survive, and it can certainly be argued that Greek attitudes to domesticated animals were more sensitive than Christian ones. Richard Sorabji, in an essay titled “Rationality” in M. Frede and G. Striker, eds., Rationality in Greek Thought (Oxford, 1996), pp. 328–30, cites the pagan philosopher Porphyry’s taunt that Christ was not much of a saviour as he was quite happy to transfer demons into the Gadarene swine, which then galloped over a cliff to their deaths. This was not the issue, replied Augustine (The City of God 1:20): animals “did not belong within the community of just dealing”; and Christ was making the point that it was superstitious to refrain from killing animals. Augustine later went on to draw on Stoicism in order to argue that as animals lack a rational mind they have no rights and are subordinate to the needs of man. Augustine is cited by Thomas Aquinas in his own defence of the killing of animals. For the development of these ideas in a later historical context, see K. Thomas, Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England, 1500–1800 (London, 1983). It was the Enlightenment that introduced the idea that animals have a “right” not to feel pain. (Some relevant quotes relating to this new approach, including one from Jeremy Bentham, are in Thomas, Man and the Natural World, pp. 179–80, while the works of Peter Singer should be addressed for a deeper understanding of the philosophical issues.)
14. Chaps. 6 and 7 of Sanders, Paul, provide a full discussion. The original Greek word for faith (pistis) can be translated as meaning both “firm assurance” and “that which gives firm assurance.” Hebrews 11:1 gives a definition of faith which was to be particularly influential: “the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.” A discussion of the various nuances of the word “faith” can be found in C. Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity (Cambridge, 1994), pp. 110–13, and the complexities of the word are also explored by N. Wolterstorff in his article “Faith” in the Routledge Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (London and New York, 2000). Wolterstorff writes:
Of what genus is faith a species? Is it a species of believing propositions on say-so? Is it a species of loyalty to some person or cause? Is it a species of trusting someone? Is it a species of believing what someone has promised? Is it a species of “concern”? Is it a virtue of a certain sort? Is it a species of knowledge?
Enough has been said here to show that it will have different meanings in different contexts and therefore needs to be used with some caution.
15. Quoted in A. Cameron, Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire (Berkeley and London, 1991), p. 28.
16. This is a passage used by those who argue that Paul did have some knowledge of Stoicism—the Stoics had put forward proofs for the existence of God and Paul appears to be assuming that they are valid ones; C. Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity, pp. 115–16. Compare, for instance, Paul in Romans 1:19–20: “What can be known about God is plain to men for God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made,” with the Stoic philosopher Lucillus quoted by Cicero in his On the Nature of the Gods 2, iii, c. 45 B.C.: “The point seems scarcely to need affirming. What can be so obvious and clear, as we gaze up at the sky and observe the heavenly bodies, as that there is some divine power of surpassing intelligence by which they are ordered?”
17. This statement is quoted in John Hick, “Interpretation and Reinterpretation in Religion,” in S. Coakley and D. Pailin, eds., The Making and Remaking of Christian Doctrine: Essays in Honour of Maurice Wiles (Oxford, 1993). “The majority of human beings, most theologians agreed, do end up in hell, including, the Council of Florence (1439–45) insisted, all Jews, heretics, and schismatics unless they become Catholic before they die.” This is from the entry on “hell” in A. Hastings, ed., The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought (New York and Oxford, 2000). This problem of inclusion versus exclusion is well dealt with in G. Stroumsa, Barbarian Philosophy: The Religious Revolution of Early Christianity (Tubingen, 1999), chap. 1, “Early Christianity as Radical Religion.” On the debate over whether in Paul’s letters all will be saved, see the section “Does Paul Believe All Human Beings Will Be Saved in the End?” in de Boer’s article “Paul and Apocalyptic Eschatology,” p. 371.
18. As J. D. Moores puts it, Wrestling with Rationality, p. 31, Paul’s logic is “so wayward that we may wonder whether Paul is not just ironically exposing the irrelevance of logical argument.”
19. Quoted in Robert Markus, Gregory the Great and His World (Cambridge, 1997), p. 38.
20. This may seem a sweeping statement, but it is hard to know where else the famous conflict originated. It is perhaps possible to take it back to Plato, but Paul’s condemnation of logic and philosophy is so violent, his statements came to have such authority and the rejection of traditional philosophy, including science, is so marked in the Christian tradition that Paul is the obvious starting point. While Paul’s concept of faith implies openness to God’s revelation, the concept shifted and expanded as the institutional church and its hierarchy developed, so that having “faith” meant accepting “specific articles of faith” that had been “communicated to Christ and mediated through the church” (see the article on “faith” by Avery Dulles in Hastings, ed., The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought), an interpretation that consolidated the faithful as acceptors who were not required to question articles of faith for themselves. In fact, it was seen as a virtue that they did not. This shift, which is related to the growth of authority in the church, will be discussed further in the next chapter.
21. See Hans Belting, Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image Before the Era of Art, trans. E. Jephcott (Chicago and London, 1994). This is a penetrating study of the art of icons and the contexts in which images were appreciated or abhorred. While early Christianity put a great deal of energy into distancing itself from Judaism, the Jewish rejection of idols continued to give Judaism some value among Christians. The theologian Origen, for instance, wrote in his Contra Celsum (V, 43): “The Jews do possess some deeper wisdom, not only more than the multitude, but also than those who seem to be philosophers, because the philosophers in spite of their impressive philosophical teachings fall down to idols and daemons, while even the lowest Jews look only to the supreme God.”
22. The summary of the Jewish writer Josephus, quoted in chap. 10, “Behaviour,” in Sanders, Paul.
23. One needs to get away from the idea that there was a sexual free-for-all in the Greek and Roman world before the coming of Christianity. See, as an introduction to this issue, M. Nussbaum, “Platonic Love and Colorado Love: The Relevance of Ancient Greek Norms to Modern Sexual Controversies,” in R. B. Louden and P. Schollmeier, eds., The Greeks and Us: Essays in Honor of Arthur W. H. Adkins (Chicago and London, 1999), pp. 168–223. However, it is also clear that there was widespread sexual exploitation of women, particularly slaves by their owners and others. See also chap. 18, “Sex, Love and Marriage in Pagan Philosophy and the Use of Catharsis,” in R. Sorabji, Emotion and Peace of Mind: From Stoic Agitation to Christian Temptation (Oxford, 2000).
24. For Paul’s contribution to Christian views on sexuality, see P. Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York, 1988; London, 1989), pp. 44–57.
25. G. Stroumsa, Barbarian Philosophy, especially chap. 1, “Early Christianity as Radical Religion”; the quotation comes from p. 25.
26. Few questions can be more complex than that of the relationship between emotion and will and the question of whether the self is divided (as Plato believed), which is why I hesitate in making too many generalizations here. (In The Republic 444 B, Plato talks of “the injustice, indiscipline . . . and vice of all kinds” that are the result of “internal quarrels” between the three parts of the soul.) It is a mark of the intellectual sophistication of ancient thought that the question was tackled in the depth it was, particularly by the Stoics. See, as a starter, chap. 20, “Emotional Conflict and the Divided Self” in Sorabji’s important Emotion and Peace of Mind. In his chapters on Christianity (22 onwards), Sorabji shows how in a Christian context “bad thoughts” came to be seen as the intrusion of the devil. The question then became how one dealt with the thought—did one linger over it or enjoy it? If so, one had already committed sin. Compare Matthew 5:27: “if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The possibility of committing evil when no outward sign of any evil action is apparent is an important component of the Christian conception of sin.
27. See Vermes, The Changing Faces of Jesus, pp. 68–69, for the view that Paul founded the Eucharist as a feature of Christian communal life, and Wayne Meeks, The First Urban Christians (New Haven and London, 1983), especially chap. 5, for the early practice of the Eucharist. For archaeological evidence for the early Christian communities in Anatolia, see Mitchell, Anatolia, vol. 2, chap. 16, part iv. As Mitchell states, p. 38, there is only one Christian inscription from Celtic Galatia (possibly not the main focus of Paul’s activity) from before the fourth century. He sums up (p. 41): “It is interesting that the Asian communities with which Paul himself had been involved, for instance the churches in south Galatia, and at Laodicea and Colossae, by no means always prospered.”
28. Quoted in Vermes, The Changing Faces of Jesus, p. 105.
29. Sanders, Paul, p. 2.
30. Quoted in K. Armstrong, A History of God (London, 1993), p. 115.
31. For an analysis of Marcion’s thought, see Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition (Chicago and London, 1971), vol. 1, pp. 71–81. It is important to stress the resilience of the Marcionites, as Marcion has been largely obliterated from the Christian tradition. If his approach to Christianity had been adopted, as it might well have been, and the “Old Testament” discarded, European culture would have been severely impoverished—but on the other hand, Christianity might have avoided the debilitating conflict with Judaism over “ownership” of the scriptures (see chap. 10) and been deprived, as Marcion hoped they would, of the model of a warlike and vengeful God that has been particularly influential at specific periods of Christian history. There would also not have been such backing for the destruction of idols, which was to include both pagan and, in the Reformation, Christian art. It was the Greek Septuagint, rather than the Hebrew Bible known to Jesus, which was adopted by Christians.
32. The argument has to be a complex one (one can as easily find statements in Matthew supporting the Gentiles), but it is the central thesis of D. Sim in his The Gospel of Matthew and Christian Judaism (Edinburgh, 1998), one he argues convincingly.
33. Quoted in Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1, p. 24. Sim, in The Gospel of Matthew, leaves himself, of course, with the problem of fitting Matthew’s community back into mainstream Christianity, as Christian Judaism withered and Gentile Christianity prevailed; see his chap. 7: “The Fate of the Matthean Community.” Peter, too, has somehow to be transferred to the Gentile world. Luke achieves this through a message from God in which Peter is commanded to accept the Gentile Cornelius as a Christian and then persuades the other Apostles that the Church should be open to Gentiles (see Acts of the Apostles 10).
1. There is evidence from Lystra itself that these two gods were, in fact, worshipped together in the city, so the story is plausible. S. Mitchell gives a number of cases of the association between Zeus and Hermes in this very area. At Kavak in the territory of Lystra, a relief has been found showing Hermes accompanied by the eagle of Zeus, while in Lystra itself a stone has been found showing Hermes with a second god, arguably Zeus. A number of other examples have been found in Asia Minor, but, as Mitchell suggests, the concentration in the Lystra area is “highly suggestive and confirms the historical precision” of the episode. It is also interesting that Paul and Barnabas are acclaimed in the local language, Lycaonian (Acts 14:11), as Greek gods, an indication of the superficial adoption of Greek culture by the native peoples of the area. Mitchell goes on to suggest that Paul is referring to this same incident when, in Galatians 4:14, he reminds the Galatians that they welcomed him as “angel of God.” S. Mitchell, Anatolia: Land, Men, and Gods in Asia Minor, vol. 2 (Oxford, 1993), p. 24.
2. See the article on the Gospel in B. Metzger and M. Coogan, eds., The Oxford Companion to the Bible (Oxford and New York, 1993), and J. Court and K. Court, The New Testament World (Cambridge, 1999), especially chap. 5, “John and the Community Apart.” There has been much argument over whether John drew on the Synoptic Gospels or wrote independently of them. The scholarly consensus (in so far as such a thing is possible in this area) at present seems to be that he did know of them. The other “signs” are Jesus’ healing of an official at Capernaum, his cure of a cripple at the pool, the feeding of the five thousand, the walking on water, the giving of sight to the blind man and the raising of Lazarus.
3. The concept of a son from God the Father means something very different in a Greco-Roman context from what it means in a Jewish one. As G. Vermes puts it:
In Hebrew or Aramaic “son of God” is always employed figuratively as a metaphor for a child of God, whereas in Greek addressed to Gentile Christians, grown up in a religious culture filled with gods, sons of gods and demigods, the New Testament expression tended to be understood literally as “Son of God,” spelled as it were with a capital letter: that is to say, as someone as the same nature as God.
The Changing Faces of Jesus (London, 2000), p. 3. See also, from Vermes’ book, pp. 32–34 on John’s concept of “the Son” and pp. 183–85 on the Synoptic Gospels’ approach to the concept. It is important to be aware of these conceptual shifts that took place as Jesus came to be seen through Greek rather than Jewish eyes. The relationship between Christ and the logos was, of course, a complex one, as logos had so many different meanings. On the other hand, as Jaroslav Pelikan has noted, the diversity of meanings could allow the word to be used creatively as a principle of creation, rationality, of speech (“the Word”) and of revelation. It could also be used to give philosophical respectability to the Son of God, whom pagans such as Celsus were to deride as degraded by his crucifixion. In some instances the logos was even described as an angel, that is, taking on a “Christian” role totally independent of the Platonic tradition. See J. Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1 (Chicago and London, 1971), pp. 188–89 and pp. 197–98, for the relationship between the logos and angels. The great issue of later centuries was that of how the divine logos could suffer on the cross.
4. I have deliberately not used the term “anti-Semitism,” as it was coined in the nineteenth century in a specific racist context. Opposition to Judaism was in this period rooted in theology, not race. The whole question of anti-Judaism/anti-Semitism and Christianity is enormously contentious, particularly in light of the Holocaust. With Christianity’s roots so deeply embedded in Judaism and Jesus himself a Jew, the development of Christianity as a religious movement separate from Judaism was bound to be difficult. It was inevitable that Christians would draw and defend boundaries between themselves and orthodox Jews, and that Jews would do the same to a religion which rejected their Law: witness the many lashings administered to Paul. The process of disentangling Christianity from this past has been a tortuous one and continues to this day. I have drawn heavily here on M. Taylor, Anti-Judaism and Early Christian Identity (Leiden and New York, 1995); the quotations all come from chap. 4, “Symbolic Anti-Judaism.” Taylor in her turn pays respect to R. Ruether’s Faith and Fratricide: The Theological Roots of Anti-Semitism (New York, 1974). For an excellent overview of the issues involved, see G. Stroumsa, Barbarian Philosophy: The Religious Revolution of Early Christianity (Tubingen, 1999), chap. 8, “From Anti-Judaism to Anti-Semitism in Early Christianity?”
5. Quoted in M. Beard, J. North and S. Price, Religions of Rome (Cambridge, 1998), vol. 1, p. 267.
6. R. MacMullen, Christianising the Roman Empire (A.D. 100–400) (New Haven and London, 1984), p. 34.
7. Ibid., p. 37.
8. Ibid., p. 111.
9. Stephen Mitchell in his study of Asia Minor, Anatolia, pp. 37–38, notes only a handful of Christian inscriptions from Pontus and Bithynia (an area described by Pliny in A.D. 110 as having many Christians) from before Constantine’s toleration and, interestingly in view of Paul’s mission, only one in Galatia. There are rather more from Phrygia, the home of the Montanists, for whom see further below. A good example of the kind of story told about Christians by outsiders is to be found in the Octavius of Minucius Felix (third century). Christians come from the lowest ranks of the people . . . ignorant and gullible women who indeed, just because of the weakness of their sex, are easily persuaded . . . [These] bands of conspirators [sic] . . . fraternise in nocturnal assemblies and at solemn fasts and barbarous feasts, not through a holy ceremony, but through an unatonable crime . . . Everywhere they also practise among themselves, so to speak, a kind of cult of sensuality; without distinction they call each other brother and sister, and through this holy name even the usual immorality becomes incest . . . In a darkness that is favourable to shamelessness they are consumed by unspeakable passion, as determined by chance . . .
Quoted in E. W. Stegemann and W. Stegemann, The Jesus Movement: A Social History of the First Century (Edinburgh, 1999), pp. 405–6.
10. A full extract from Celsus is provided by MacMullen, Christianising the Roman Empire, p. 37. As an introduction to women in the early church, see the chapter “Women in Urban Christian Communities” in Stegemann and Stegemann, The Jesus Movement. The authors see the originally extensive involvement of women in the early Christian communities as having been eclipsed as traditional Greco-Roman attitudes reasserted themselves.
11. P. Brown, “Asceticism: Pagan and Christian,” chap. 20 in A. Cameron and P. Garnsey, eds., The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. XIII (Cambridge, 1998), p. 610. The idea of the bride of Christ proves a strong one, and in his Letter XXII Jerome goes so far as to say that one of the benefits of virginity for Eustochium will be that Christ will put his hand through an opening in the wall of her bedchamber and “caress her belly.” Note too the famous sculpture of Teresa of Avila by Bernini in the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome, where the saint is shown in marble in the act of surrendering herself, some would say sexually, to Christ (the moment draws on extracts from her diary).
12. P. Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York, 1988; London, 1989), pp. 78–79. See also G. Stroumsa, Barbarian Philosophy, chap. 6, “Tertullian on Idolatry and the Limits of Tolerance.”
13. Beard, North and Price, Religions of Rome, pp. 295–96.
14. This preference for oral tradition and debate appears strange to the modern world. Plato, however, had made the point that a written word is static. “If you ask them [written words] anything about what they say, from a wish to know more, they go on telling you the same thing over and over again forever.” In other words, an intellectual debate cannot be carried on with the written word. This is perhaps the point to be recognized here. In The Tyrant’s Writ (Princeton, 1993), Deborah Steiner stresses how the written word often stood for authority in the ancient world, perhaps a point of interest in this context. One of the early Christian Platonists, Clement of Alexandria, appears to have been heavily influenced by this aspect of Plato’s ideas and to have shown “considerable reluctance” to write anything down. In the opinion of Raoul Mortley, his decision to write down his thoughts “marks the beginning of the Christian commitment to documentary history” (Mortley, From Word to Silence [Bonn, 1986], vol. 2, p. 39). The shift from debating Christian doctrine orally to a consideration of it through the comparison of written statements is discussed by R. Lim, Public Disputation, Power, and Social Order in Late Antiquity (Berkeley and London, 1995). See also Robin Lane Fox, “Literacy and Power in Early Christianity,” chap. 9 in A. Bowman and G. Woolf, eds., Literacy and Power in the Ancient World (Cambridge, 1994).
A reminder of how many oral traditions about Jesus and his family must have disappeared can be found through the art that survives. See D. Cartlidge and J. K. Elliott, Art and the Christian Apocrypha (London and New York, 2001).
15. Augustine, Ennarrationes in Psalmos, 59:1. The methods used to interpret the Bible form an enormous subject. See, however, as an introduction, the relevant chapters in J. Rogerson, ed., The Oxford Illustrated History of the Bible (Oxford, 2001), and in P. R. Ackroyd and C. F. Evans, eds., The Cambridge History of the Bible, vol. 1 (Cambridge, 1979); the article “Interpretation, History of,” in Metzger and Coogan, eds., The Oxford Companion to the Bible; and Stroumsa, The Barbarian Philosophy, chap. 2, “The Christian Hermeneutical Revolution and Its Double Helix.” It was assumed by the Christian exegetes that the mind of God remained unchanged and that he knew from the earliest book in the Bible that Christ would appear on the earth. It was also assumed that the Bible, despite the variety of texts, had an inner consistency. Once this was accepted, it was “only” a matter of spotting the relevant references. One method is termed “typology,” which consists of making a direct link between a happening or symbol in the Old Testament and an equivalent in the New. So the story of Noah’s ark is seen as a “type” for baptism, and any wood as a “type” for the cross. More sweeping is allegory, used extensively by Origen and Augustine. It involves what often appears to be quite arbitrary linking of any person, event or object in the Old Testament to objects in the New and the use of imagination to find symbolic meaning within almost any verse of the Bible.
16. In the “Epilogue” to B. Pearson, ed., The Future of Early Christianity: Essays in Honor of Helmut Koester (Minneapolis, 1991), p. 472. See H. Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development (London, 1999), for his views on the importance of integrating what survives of the “apocryphal” Gospels with the canonical Gospels.
17. See Metzger and Coogan, eds., The Oxford Companion to the Bible, p. 103. The Montanists are covered in Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1, pp. 97–108. It was Hippolytus of Rome, a contemporary of Tertullian, who put forward the idea that direct prophecy had ceased with John. The Book of Revelation was and remains part of the New Testament to this day. D. H. Lawrence, however, saw it as “the Judias Iscariot of the New Testament,” and it remains an uneasy amalgam of extravagant terminology and wild imagery. It has had its uses within the church, however. Its description of the heavenly Jerusalem as a city of precious stones allowed it to be used to support the opulence of church building in the fourth century; see further p. 207. More positively, Richard Bauckham has commented that, despite modern readers finding it “baffling and impenetrable . . . yet this is a book that in all centuries has inspired the martyrs, nourished the imagination of visionaries, artists, and hymn writers, resourced prophetic critiques of oppression and corruption in state and church, sustained hope and resistance in the most hopeless situations.” From the introduction to “Revelation” in J. Barton and J. Muddiman, eds., The Oxford Bible Commentary (Oxford, 2001), p. 1287.
Direct revelations, especially through the Virgin Mary, continue to be reported and, in some cases (Lourdes and Fatima), accepted as valid by the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul announced in 2000 that the famous third secret of Fatima, for long known only to the popes, had in fact contained a warning from the Virgin Mary of his attempted assassination. The problem here is how to recognize the continuing activities of the Holy Spirit. Is it conceptually possible for the Holy Spirit to make a revelation that conflicts with Christian orthodoxy, or is the validity of any revelation to be recognized because it reinforces orthodoxy?
18. Jaroslav Pelikan, one of the shrewdest commentators on the evolution of Christian doctrine, surveys the different meanings of salvation in early Christianity in The Christian Tradition, vol. 1, pp. 141–55.
19. The quotation from Irenaeus is taken from H. Bettenson, ed., Documents of the Christian Church (Oxford, 1943), p. 99. That of Tertullian, from his Praescriptio Haereticorum 19:2, is quoted in J. Rives, Religion and Authority in Roman Carthage from Augustus to Constantine (Oxford, 1995), p. 278. Rives has much of importance to say about church authority in that chapter. The notion of apostolic succession was crucial for the church as it gave a means by which the authority of the church could be passed on from bishop to bishop. For a full discussion, see Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1, pp. 108–20.
20. Cyprian, De Unitate 17.428. An excellent discussion of Cyprian’s views on authority can be found in Rives, Religion and Authority, pp. 285–307, from which the quotation and material for the next paragraph is drawn. It is interesting to note that the need to impose authority in terms comprehensible to north African Christians threatened to eclipse the reality of a Jesus executed as a rebel against Roman authority.
21. Jaroslav Pelikan sums up the approach of Eusebius as follows: “According to the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius, orthodox Christian doctrine did not really have a history, having been true eternally and taught primitively; only heresy has a history, having arisen at particular times and through the innovation of particular teachers” (in The Christian Tradition, vol. 1, pp. 7–8). Eusebius’ view that orthodoxy was established early in church history and simply had to defend itself against the onslaughts of heretics has been particularly influential in the Roman Catholic tradition and still conditions many histories of the Church. However, as Pelikan shows throughout his study, it was diversity rather than uniformity that marked the early development of Christian doctrine.
22. MacMullen, Christianising the Roman Empire, deals with conversion and John’s prayers at Ephesus; see p. 40 for his discussion of the demons.
23. Ibid., p. 112. Exorcism has not wholly died out within Christianity in that both the Catholic and the Anglican Churches still have rites of exorcism and even specially appointed exorcists to drive out “demons.”
24. Quoted ibid., p. 37. Celsus contrasted pagans, who could be accepted into their mysteries if they had “pure hands and wise tongues,” with Christians, for whom sinfulness seemed to be a prerequisite for entry to theirs.
25. See L. Alexander, “Paul and the Hellenistic Schools: The Evidence of Galen,” in Troels Engbury-Pedersen, ed., Paul in His Hellenistic Context (Edinburgh, 1994). The third-century theologian Origen taught that the “simpleminded” Christians should be told that the resurrection was a literal resurrection of Jesus’ body (while he and other more sophisticated Christians could see it in a more symbolic sense); see chap. 8, note 19 above.
26. Bettenson, Documents of the Christian Church, p. 9, for the quote from Clement. The quote from Augustine comes from De Doctrina Christiana 2:144.
27. MacMullen, Christianising the Roman Empire, p. 32.
28. C. Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity (Cambridge, 1994), p. 14. There is a vast amount of material on the relationship between Platonism and Christianity. Did Platonism corrupt an original “pure” Christianity or was it the “nurse” without which it would not have survived as a respectable participant in a highly competitive intellectual world? No easy answers are to be found in what has been a celebrated debate. A useful overview, with reading list, can be found in A. Le Boullec, “Hellenism and Christianity,” in J. Brunschwig and G. E. R. Lloyd, eds., Greek Thought: A Guide to Classical Knowledge (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 2000).
29. Definitions of these “heresies” and alternative interpretations can be found in F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed. (Oxford, 1997). The Sabellians used the sun as an analogy. God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are the equivalent of the heat, light and what Sabellius called “the astrological energy” of the sun, in other words different manifestations of the same essence.
30. See the article “Soul” in A. D. Fitzgerald, ed., Augustine Through the Ages (Grand Rapids, Mich., and Cambridge, 1999), and Kallistos Ware, “The Soul in Greek Christianity,” in M. James and C. Crabbe, eds., From Soul to Self (London and New York, 1999), p. 53. Thomas Aquinas was to talk of the “ensouled body,” deliberately turning his back on Plato’s conception (see chap. 20 of this book). The mind/body debate so beloved of philosophers is tied in with all this.
31. An interesting example is the Song of Solomon, which most would read at face value and without qualms as a mildly erotic love poem. However, the Church Fathers were deeply troubled by any hint of sexuality, and Origen interpreted the Song as an allegory of God’s relations with the individual soul, an approach that removed the sexual “danger” implicit in a straightforward reading of it. The “allegorical” approach to biblical interpretation taken by Origen was followed by Jerome and Augustine.
32. The first quotation is taken from Origen’s Contra Celsum 4:99. The second is from J. Clark Smith, The Ancient Wisdom of Origen (London and Toronto, 1992), p. 52. There is an echo here of Homer’s depiction of the gods returning all to how it used to be; see chap. 2, note 7 above.
33. From Pindar, Nemean Ode 6, trans. R. Buxton.
34. See the individual entries for the early popes in J. Kelly, The Oxford Dictionary of the Popes (Oxford, 1986). A good study of the psychology and impact of martyrdom is to be found in R. Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians (London, 1986), chap. 9. I wonder whether an analogy might be made between the memory of martyrdoms and the memory of the Holocaust, both of which seem to have intensified rather than diminished through time.
35. R. Stark, in his The Rise of Christianity (Princeton, 1996), makes some calculations in chap. 1. His estimate of the Christian population for A.D. 274 is 4.2 percent for the whole empire, and he compares this with evidence from Egypt, a more heavily Christianized part of the empire, that suggests that just over 10 percent of the population there were Christian by this date. Whether these figures mean anything is open to doubt. There was no clear definition of what it meant to be a Christian in the third century, and, as has been seen, many religious movements included Christ among their spiritual leaders, so it is hard to see how any valid calculations could be made. Again, one has only to read of the mass rejection of their faith by Christians at times of persecution in north Africa to realize how fluid a conception “being a Christian” was. See also K. Hopkins, “Christian Number and Its Implication,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 6 (1998): 185–226.
36. MacMullen, Christianising the Roman Empire, p. 40. A useful account of the growth of Christianity in Asia Minor in this period is to be found in Mitchell’s study Anatolia, vol. 2, chaps. 16 (pp. 37–42) and 17. Mitchell suggests that Phrygia was perhaps the most highly Christianized part of the empire by 300, but he emphasizes that while some communities in the province were heavily Christian, others were still largely pagan. As he puts it, a map of cities highlighting those that were Christian would “resemble an irregular patchwork quilt, not a simple monochrome blanket” (p. 63).
1. Quoted in R. MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries (New Haven and London, 1997), p. 130. See the new edition of Eusebius: Life of Constantine, trans. with introduction and commentary by A. Cameron and S. Hall (Oxford, 1999), and pp. 27–48 of the editors’ introduction in particular for an assessment of the work in literary terms.
2. H. A. Drake, “Constantine and Consensus,” Church History 64 (1995): 7. Drake has now expanded his argument in Constantine and the Bishops: The Politics of Intolerance (Baltimore and London, 2000).
3. For a survey of Constantine’s life, see H. Pohlsander, Constantine the Emperor (London, 1997); the chapters on Constantine in A. Cameron, The Later Roman Empire (London, 1993); and D. Bowder, The Age of Constantine and Julian (London, 1978).
4. S. MacCormack, Art and Ceremony in Late Antiquity (Berkeley and London, 1981), p. 108.
5. Ibid., pp. 106–15, for Constantine’s definition of his own legitimacy.
6. Cameron and Hall, eds., Life of Constantine, 1:28–32.
7. Ibid., 1:27. See J. W. Liebeschuetz, Continuity and Change in Roman Religion (Oxford, 1979), pp. 278–80, for comment.
8. H. A. Drake, Constantine and the Bishops: The Politics of Intolerance (Baltimore and London, 2000).
9. The decree is given in full in N. Lewis and M. Reinhold, Roman Civilization, Sourcebook II: The Empire (New York, 1995), pp. 602–4, from which this translation is taken. Drake, Constantine and the Bishops, p. 195, stresses the importance of the edict in proclaiming freedom of worship, and on p. 249 he quotes the pagan orator Themistius (second half of the fourth century) addressing the emperor Valens as follows:
The law of God and your law remains unchanged for ever—that the mind of each and every man should be free to follow the way of worship which it thinks [to be best]. This is a law against which no confiscation, no crucifixion, no death at the stake has ever availed; you may hale and kill the body, if so be that this comes to pass; but the mind will escape you, taking with it freedom of thought and the right of the law as it goes, even if it is subject to force in the language used by the tongue.
10. For the arch, see Bowder, The Age of Constantine and Julian, pp. 24–28, and A. Claridge, Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide (Oxford and New York, 1998), pp. 272–76.
11. Liebeschuetz, Continuity and Change, pp. 283–84.
12. P. Chuvin, A Chronicle of the Last Pagans (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1990), p. 125. There is also the prayer of St. Francis: “Praise be to you, oh God my Lord, and to all your creatures, and above all to their great brother the sun, who brings the day and illumines with his light; and he is beautiful and brilliantly radiant; he is the symbol of you, oh Lord.”
13. Liebeschuetz, Continuity and Change, p. 300. In Life of Constantine 2:48, Eusebius quotes a decree that Constantine sent out to the eastern provinces which, in its insistence on the natural order of things, suggests a Stoic influence. It begins:
Everything embraced by the sovereign laws of nature provides everybody with sufficient evidence of the providence and thoughtfulness of the divine ordering; nor is there any doubt among those whose intellect approaches that topic by a correct scientific method, that accurate apprehension by a healthy mind and by sight itself rise in a single impulse of true virtue to the true knowledge of God.
Compare chap. 9, note 16, above.
14. Quoted in M. Beard, J. North and S. Price, Religions of Rome (Cambridge, 1998), vol. 1, p. 367.
15. Ibid., p. 370.
16. Drake, Constantine and the Bishops, p. 230, makes this important point. For the elimination of the Donatists, see chap. 18.
17. Cameron and Hall, eds., Life of Constantine 3:4. The quotation from Constantine’s address is from Drake, Constantine and the Bishops, p. 4. One dispute between rival bishops in Ancyra in Galatia was described (to a synod of bishops meeting in Africa in 343) as follows:
Houses were burned down and all manner of fighting broke out. Priests were dragged naked to the forum by the bishop himself . . . he profaned the sacred Host of the Lord by hanging it openly and in public from the necks of priests, and with horrendous barbarity tore the vestments from holy virgins dedicated to God and Christ, and displayed them naked before the public in the forum, in the middle of the city.
18. See R. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God (Edinburgh, 1988); M. Wiles, Archetypal Heresy: Arianism Through the Centuries (Oxford, 1996); and D. Williams, Ambrose of Milan and the End of Nicene-Arian Conflicts (Oxford, 1995), for recent surveys of the issues and of traditional historiography. There is also an excellent survey of the controversy as it took place over the fourth century in R. Vaggione, Eunomius of Cyzicus and the Nicene Revolution (Oxford, 2000). Eunomius was the most articulate defender of the extreme Arian position that the Father and the Son are to be seen as dissimilar to each other.
19. Quotation from Wiles, Archetypal Heresy, p. 9.
20. The examples come from ibid., chap. 1.
21. Ibid., p. 17.
22. R. Hanson, “The Achievement of the Orthodoxy in the Fourth Century A.D.,” in R. Williams, ed., The Making of Orthodoxy: Essays in Honour of Henry Chadwick (Cambridge, 1989), p. 153. J. Pelikan notes four different approaches to the Christ as God debate, all of which could draw on scriptural backing: (1) Christ was born a man but became divine either at his baptism or at his resurrection. (2) Christ was fully God from eternity and to be equated with the Yahweh of the Old Testament. (3) There were two distinct “Lords,” God and Jesus. (4) There was a Father who had a son, who is referred to in the scriptures as variously Son, Spirit, the logos, even an angel, but always in a context that suggested he was subordinate to the Father. (See Pelikan’s The Christian Tradition, vol. 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100–600) [Chicago and London, 1971], p. 175.) This simply underlines one of the major problems in Christian doctrine. Everyone felt that scriptural backing was important, but the sheer diversity of texts meant that almost any formulation of doctrine could find support from one text or another. It is hardly surprising that the church had eventually to assume absolute authority over the interpretation of scripture, a development that had the effect, of course, of stifling debate.
23. See the article on Arianism by R. Williams in E. Ferguson, ed., Encyclopaedia of Early Christianity (Chicago and London, 1990), p. 85.
24. Again see ibid. for some of the variations of Arianism.
25. Quoted in Drake, Constantine and the Bishops, p. 240.
26. Cameron and Hall, eds., Life of Constantine 3:10. See also Bowder, The Age of Constantine and Julian, p. 70, and R. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God (Edinburgh, 1988), chap. 6.
27. Drake, Constantine and the Bishops, p. 253, note 2.
28. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, looks at the evidence on pp. 190–202. There is also an excellent account in C. Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity (Cambridge, 1994), chap. 14, “Unity of Substance.”
29. See Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity, p. 169, for this idea. As H. Chadwick notes in his “Orthodoxy and Heresy,” in A. Cameron and P. Garnsey, eds., The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. XIII (Cambridge, 1998), p. 573, “the epithet homoousios was an ordinary term in Plotinus’ vocabulary.” The response of the Cappadocian Fathers to homoousios as a term is discussed by J. Pelikan, Christianity and Classical Culture (New Haven and London, 1993), p. 43.
30. Kee, Constantine Versus Christ (London, 1982), p. 15.
31. Hanson, The Search for Christian Doctrine of God, deals with Eusebius’ letter on pp. 163–66. Hanson’s analysis of the terminology is invaluable.
32. Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1, p. 203.
33. Once again Hanson’s analysis of the twists and turns in the attempt to accommodate the council’s creed (The Search for Christian Doctrine of God, chap. 10) is masterly. See D. Williams, Ambrose of Milan, p. 16, for Ossius and Serdica. The full text of the western bishops’ statement at Serdica is given in Hanson at pp. 301–2. As Hanson makes clear (p. 303), Ossius was not at home with Greek philosophy and the statement is “confused.”
34. D. Williams, Ambrose of Milan, p. 15. Vaggione, Eunomius of Cyzicus, notes on p. 151: “Over the next fifteen years [from the death of Constantine in 337] the Creed of Nicaea was more ignored than opposed, even by those who were later considered ‘Nicene.’ During this period, public ecclesiastical loyalty tended to be expressed in terms of political and theological loyalty to specific bishops.” Vaggione goes on to argue that accounts of the controversy written from hindsight in the following century, by which time the Nicene Creed was enshrined as orthodoxy, tended to describe the leading figures of the period in terms of their allegiance, or otherwise, to the Nicene Creed even though no defined parties emerged until the 350s.
35. See Drake, Constantine and the Bishops, chap. 8, “Controlling the Message.” Drake shows how Constantine used texts from the Bible to isolate the more intransigent of the Christians from the majority, whom he wished to keep on his side.
36. Liebeschuetz, Continuity and Change, p. 281.
37. In Cameron and Hall, eds., Eusebius, the editors state that the sources for the assertion that he did “are tendentious: the extent to which Constantine did attempt to suppress pagan worship [including sacrifice] is therefore disputed.” They go on to provide references to recent articles on the issue (pp. 319–20). If Drake’s thesis is accepted, it is unlikely that Constantine felt strongly about the issue, but it should be noted that by now many sophisticated pagans had themselves rejected sacrifices.
38. D. Bowder, The Age of Constantine and Julian, p. 33. For Constantine’s legislation see A. Cameron, The Later Roman Empire (London, 1993), p. 58. The influential legend that Helena found “the True Cross” in the Holy Land appears only much later, for the first time in 395, when it was mentioned in an oration by Ambrose, bishop of Milan. It is not mentioned in Eusebius’ biography, an omission which suggests that it is a later development in Christian mythology. Despite this later date, Helena’s “finding of the True Cross” has proved to be one of the most influential of Christian legends, and even recently it has been argued that the titulus, the board bearing the inscription “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews,” from the cross survives in the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome (Matthew D’Ancona and Carsten Peter Thiede, The Quest for the True Cross [London, 2000]). In view of the embarrassment and shame Christ’s crucifixion caused to his followers, it seems highly unlikely that they would have preserved the cross. It is also worth mentioning that another complete “True Cross” is recorded in Jerusalem in the seventh century. It was looted from there by the Persians but returned to the city by the Byzantine emperor Heraclius in 630.
39. For Constantinople, see the relevant chapters in R. Krautheimer, Three Christian Capitals (Berkeley, 1983), and Christopher Kelly, “Empire Building,” in G. W. Bowersock, P. Brown and O. Grabar, eds., Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Postclassical World (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1999).
40. Cameron and Hall, eds., Life of Constantine 3:48 for Constantinople as a Christian capital. For the pagan statues, see ibid., 3:54, and the comments on the passage made by the editors on pp. 301–3. Later (tolerant) attitudes to pagan art in Constantinople are discussed in C. Mango, “Antique Statuary and the Byzantine Beholder,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers, no. 17 (1963): 55–75. The same point could be made of Constantine’s activities in Rome, as it was by the anti-clerical Italian aristocrat Count Leopoldo Cicognera in his history of sculpture (Venice, 1813–18):
The same hand that raised so many basilicas to the true God was also generous in beautifying and restoring the temples of the gods in Rome; and the medals that were issued in his imperial mint carried the images and attributes of Jupiter, Apollo, Mars and Hercules, while through the apotheosis of his father Constantius he added a new deity to Mount Olympus.
41. See C. Kelly, in Bowersock, Brown and Grabar, eds., Late Antiquity, for details of the ceremony of dedication and the building of the city. A story was told by later Byzantine writers that hidden underneath the column was an ancient statue of Pallas Athene, which had been taken to Rome by Aeneas after the sack of Troy and then secretly brought on by Constantine for his new city.
42. See my The Horses of St. Mark’s in European History (forthcoming, London, 2004), where it is argued that it was the set of horses associated in later sources with Constantine’s golden chariot that were the ones selected by the Venetian Doge Enrico Dandolo for Venice after the sack of Constantinople by the Venetians in 1204.
43. Cameron and Hall, eds., Life of Constantine 3:49. In her book Divine Heiress: The Virgin Mary and the Creation of Christian Constantinople (London and New York, 1994), Vasiliki Limberis argues that Constantine was deliberately setting out “to make Christianity a Greco-Roman civic religion” (p. 27). He could do this because his new foundation had no pre-existing Christian community with which he had to compromise, so he was able to create his own ceremonies without opposition.
44. Cameron and Hall, eds., Life of Constantine 4:24.
45. MacCormack, Art and Ceremony, p. 122, with her illustrations nos. 33 and 34.
46. Cameron and Hall, eds., Life of Constantine 1:6.
47. New Catholic Encyclopaedia (Washington D.C., 1967), entry on “Conscientious Objection.” The comparison with the pre-Constantine period makes the point. There were those such as Marcellus the Centurion who refused to fight for the state. He threw off his arms and proclaimed to his superiors that “a Christian who is in the service of the Lord Christ should not serve the affairs of this world.” As a result he was made a saint (see entry for Marcellus in D. Farmer, The Oxford Dictionary of the Saints, 4th ed. [Oxford, 1997]). The adoption of Christianity by the state made this approach impossible. For the Sala di Constantino, see the description in Loren Partridge, The Renaissance in Rome (London, 1996), p. 152.
48. The quotation comes from De Fide 2:16. It appears to have been written about the time of the devastating Roman defeat at Adrianople in 378. A common Christian symbol from the fourth century onward was a chi-ro placed above a cross, a composition adapted from a Roman cavalry standard. In later centuries, there was a relative lack of inhibition as regards Christians fighting wars (despite a doctrine of the conditions for “a just war” elaborated by Thomas Aquinas). Augustine had argued that a soldier who killed in war was not guilty of sin so long as he acted under the orders of a recognized authority, even if that authority or the war itself was unjust (see C. Harrison, Augustine: Christian Truth and Fractured Humanity [Oxford, 2000], p. 291), and in practice the doctrine of “a just war” proved elastic as the number of cases where both Christian sides to a conflict have relied on it shows. As an example of the lack of inhibition, one can take the outspoken remarks of A. F. Winnington-Ingram, bishop of London, during the First World War, a war fought between Christian nations. The war was, he proclaimed, “a great crusade to kill Germans, to kill them not for the sake of killing but to save the world; to kill the good as well as the bad, to kill the young as well as the old . . . ,” and on a later occasion he called the war “. . . a war for purity, for freedom, for international honour and for the principles of Christianity . . . everyone who dies in it is a martyr.” Quoted in N. Ferguson, The Pity of War (London, 1998), pp. 208–9. There is, of course, a deep-rooted Christian pacifist tradition, but the point made here can be underlined by realizing how impossible it would be for an Anglican bishop of the period to have argued, for instance, for a less rigorous approach to the ethics of sexuality. There is much to reflect on here, but a knowledge of why Christianity and war became so closely linked in Constantine’s reign and those of his successors does help clarify matters. Christianity is not easily separated from the specific historical circumstances in which it developed, but at least these circumstances can be recognized.
1. Statement to a church council of 355 attributed to Constantius II, quoted in R. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God (Edinburgh, 1988), p. 849.
2. For the background to the politics of this period, see D. Hunt, “The Successors of Constantine,” chap. 1 in Averil Cameron and Peter Garnsey, eds., The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. XIII (Cambridge, 1998).
3. See Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, p. 166. I have drawn heavily on Hanson’s book for this chapter, as it provides the fullest account of the tortuous process by which an orthodoxy was eventually established. This again is an area where there has been some major rethinking in recent years. The traditional account is, as already mentioned in the previous chapter, that Nicaea affirmed traditional teaching, then “evil-minded” Arians (the term was often extended to include the Homoeans, who were termed “semi-Arians”) attempted to subvert orthodoxy until Theodosius triumphantly saw off the “heretics” at the end of the century. Discovering what really happened is particularly difficult for two reasons: (a) Christian history was effectively rewritten from the Nicene point of view, so that many texts supporting the alternative positions have been lost, and (b) there is very little evidence to show how the western view of the single Godhead evolved. See D. Williams, Ambrose of Milan and the End of Nicene–Arian Conflicts (Oxford, 1995), for the problems. As Williams suggests, it is very difficult to trace the revival or adoption of Nicene thought in the west, especially as there was virtually no western representation at Nicaea itself. Certainly the fight over the issue was as much a political as a theological one, and, in different circumstances, the question might have been left open or an alternative formulation adopted.
4. See H. Chadwick, chap. 19, “Orthodoxy and Heresy from the Death of Constantine to the Eve of the First Council of Ephesus,” in Cameron and Garnsey, eds., The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. XIII, and generally Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God.
5. C. Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity (Cambridge, 1994), p. 160.
6. Williams, Ambrose of Milan, p. 136.
7. Ibid., p. 19.
8. Chadwick, “Orthodoxy and Heresy,” p. 572.
9. M. Wiles, Archetypal Heresy: Arianism Through the Centuries (Oxford, 1996), p. 28.
10. Quoted in Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, pp. 363–64.
11. See ibid., chap. 12, and Williams, Ambrose of Milan, chap. 1. The two councils between them attracted some 600 bishops, twice as many as Nicaea and four times as many as the Council of Constantinople of 381. The pagan historian Ammianus Marcellinus (The Later Roman Empire xxi, 16) memorably described the process by which the bishops gathered: “Public transport hurried throngs of bishops hither and thither to attend what they call synods, and by his attempts to impose conformity, Constantius only succeeded in hamstringing the postal service.”
12. See Williams, Ambrose of Milan, p. 27. Why they changed their minds is not clear. One report (by a pro-Nicene) suggested it was because they were “of weak character” but also “because of weariness of being threatened with expulsion into foreign lands.” In other words, the message from the east must have been that they would lose their sees if they did not accept the Dated Creed.
13. For short introductions to Julian, see D. Hunt, “Julian,” chap. 2 in Cameron and Garnsey, eds., The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. XIII, and the chapter “Julian the Apostate,” by M. B. Simmons, in P. Esler, ed., The Early Christian World, vol. 2 (New York and London, 2000). Julian is one of the most complex of the Roman emperors, and he has aroused approval and hostility in equal measure ever since his reign. R. Smith, Julian’s Gods: Religion and Philosophy in the Thought and Action of Julian the Apostate (London and New York, 1995), is a useful survey of the difficulties in coming to a fair assessment of him.
14. Ammianus Marcellinus, The Later Roman Empire xxii, 5.
15. “He turned to paganism with the zeal of the convert,” as G. W. Bowersock puts it in his Hellenism in Late Antiquity (Ann Arbor, 1990), p. 6.
16. See Smith, Julian’s Gods, for a full and balanced discussion of Julian’s ideas. Smith (p. 183) quotes the pagan orator Libanius on Julian’s “conversion.”
And upon your arrival in Ionia you encountered a wise man, you heard of those who fashioned and maintained the universe, you gazed upon the beauty of philosophy and tasted its sweetest springs. Then you quickly threw aside your error [Christianity], released yourself from darkness and grasped truth instead of ignorance, reality in place of falsehood, our old gods in place of that wicked one and his rites.
Contra Galilaeos is available in the Loeb Classics (Works of Julian, vol. 3).
17. Julian, Contra Galilaeos 115 D–E, trans. W. C. Wright.
18. The destruction of the Temple was so deeply engrained in Christian thought as a symbol of God’s rejection of the Jews that its rebuilding aroused deep emotional reaction, and the fire was later used by Christians as convincing evidence of God’s continuing hostility to the Jews. It was “a fire from heaven,” as Ambrose of Milan was to put it. Ambrose’s Letters, trans. S. Mary Melchior Beyenka (New York, 1954), letter no. 2 in this collection, no. 40 according to the traditional Benedictine enumeration.
19. For the reigns of Jovian through to Theodosius, see J. Curran, chap. 3 in Cameron and Garnsey, eds., The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. XIII.
20. The most lively account of this disaster is to be found in Ammianus Marcellinus’ history, The Later Roman Empire xxxi.
21. Ibid., xxx, 9.
22. J. Rist in “Plotinus and Christian Philosophy,” in Lloyd P. Gerson, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Plotinus (Cambridge, 1996), p. 396. For Athanasius’ writings and a critical discussion of his theology, see Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, chap. 14. There is also a good chapter on Athanasius by David Brakke in Esler, The Early Christian World, vol. 2, chap. 44.
23. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, pp. 239–62.
24. Ibid., p. 436.
25. Ibid., p. 446, for the text of Athanasius’ analysis of the Incarnation followed by Hanson’s own assessment of it.
26. Quotation from ibid., p. 449.
27. The quotations from Origen and Athanasius come from J. Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1 (Chicago and London, 1971), pp. 282 and 285. Pelikan’s section on “The State of Christian Anthropology,” from which these quotations are drawn, is helpful in exploring the development of Christian ideas on the nature of sin and free will. Some idea of Athanasius’ polemical style can be gauged from the following quotation from Against the Arians, discourse II, para. 58.
A heretic is a wicked thing in truth and in every respect his heart is depraved and irreligious. For behold, though convicted on all points and shown to be utterly bereft of understanding, they show no shame, but as the hydra of Gentile fable, when its former serpents were destroyed, gave birth to fresh ones, contending against the slayer of the old by the production of the new, so also they are hostile and hateful to God, as hydras losing their life in their objections which they advance, invent for themselves other questions, Judaic [sic] and foolish, and new expedients, as if Truth were their enemy, thereby to show that they are Christ’s enemies in all things.
For the rhetorical devices used by Athanasius, see the article by C. Stead, “Rhetorical Method in Athanasius,” Vigiliae Christianae 30 (1976): 121–37. As suggested in the main text, this kind of polemic helped undermine the tradition of rational argument, and it was deeply unfortunate that it became such a prominent part of Christian discourse. Not least, it undermined the concept of a loving God who could accept diversity among his creatures. As will be seen, Jerome and John Chrysostom, and, to a lesser extent perhaps, Ambrose, sustained this tradition so that the more measured works of Augustine, despite their underlying pessimism, come as something of a relief.
28. See Williams, Ambrose of Milan, chap. 2, and Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, chap. 15. As Williams points out, one must be cautious in the use of “Nicene” for the beliefs of the bishops of the west. Speaking of the 340s, he suggests that “outside Rome, the Nicene creed appears to have been known but not relevant to the confessional needs of western bishops” (Ambrose of Milan, pp. 16–17). There is no evidence that Hilary of Poitiers even knew of the creed before the 350s. One cannot stress too strongly the lack of any immediate impact on the church from the Nicene Council, which really deserves to be called an imperial council rather than a church one.
29. See Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, chap. 21. For a good résumé of the Cappadocians’ case, see T. Hopko, “The Trinity in the Cappadocians,” part 1 of chap. 11 in B. McGinn and J. Meyendorff, eds., Christian Spirituality: Origins to the Twelfth Century (London, 1986).
30. Jaroslav Pelikan, Christianity and Classical Culture (New Haven and London, 1993), p. 175.
31. Ibid. Pelikan shows how “natural theology,” based on classical philosophy, was woven into the Cappadocians’ work so that they would use reason, “the natural apprehensions of humanity,” analogies from the physical world and so on in the search for support for Christian orthodoxy. The difficulty was how to distinguish between those aspects of pagan philosophy that they could use to support Christianity from those they had to condemn as pagan. Then they had to reconcile the parts of pagan philosophy they used with the teaching of the scriptures. No one can doubt the quality and ingenuity of the minds of the Cappadocian Fathers, but, as Pelikan shows, they often had to indulge in special pleading to achieve results that coincided with Nicene orthodoxy. A more supportive view is that of Hopko:
Their glory . . . lay in their ability to overcome those elements of this
[Greek philosophical] tradition that were incompatible with Christianity,
particularly in regard to the vision of God, and to coin new terms and
formulate new explanations to protect and preserve the authentic
experience and proper understanding of Christians.
Hopko, “The Trinity in the Cappadocians,” p. 261.
32. H. Chadwick, in “Orthodoxy and Heresy,” chap. 19 in Cameron and Garnsey, eds., The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. XIII, p. 573, does suggest the connection between the Cappadocians and Plotinus, but J. Rist, in “Plotinus and Christian Philosophy,” in Gerson, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Plotinus, argues against it, pp. 397–401. Rist’s view is in its turn rejected by Hanson, TheSearch for the Christian Doctrine of God, who concludes (p. 866): “It seems impossible to deny that Basil knew something of the work of Plotinus and consciously employed both his ideas and vocabulary when he thought them applicable.” For an overview of the whole problem from a philosophical point of view, see Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity, chap. 15, “Substance and Persons.” The Cappadocians were certainly not blind followers of Plotinus, because the latter made it quite clear that his three hypostaseis were in a hierarchy, while the Trinitarian formulation insists that they are equal to each other.
33. Gregory of Nazianzus illustrates how fluid the concept of the Holy Spirit was at this stage: “Of the wise men among ourselves, some have conceived of the Holy Spirit as an activity, some as a creature, some as God; and some have been uncertain which to call him . . . And therefore they neither worship him nor treat him with dishonour, but take up a neutral position.” Orations 21.33, quoted in Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1, p. 213. Pages 211–25 give a full account of the difficulties involved in defining the Holy Spirit as God.
34. Pelikan, Christianity and Classical Culture, p. 245.
35. Ibid., pp. 237–38 for the problems with the terminology of Father and Son and pp. 195–96 for Basil’s views on the Holy Spirit. The key passage from the New Testament is Matthew 28:19 where Jesus calls upon the disciples to baptize “all nations . . . in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” However, this says nothing about the relationship between them, which is so crucial a part of Trinitarian orthodoxy, and according to Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1, p. 212, the lack of any direct reference to the Spirit as God in the scriptures was “a source of considerable embarrassment” to Gregory of Nazianzus. In his letter to his flock after the Council of Nicaea, Eusebius of Caesarea assured them that the use of homoousios was consistent with Matthew 28:19 being interpreted in terms of a “ hierarchy” of Father, Son and Holy Spirit (see R. Vaggione, Eunomius of Cyzicus and the Nicene Revolution [Oxford, 2000], p. 60). The point about Hebrews 1:3 is made by Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1, pp. 219–20.
36. These points are taken from chap. 15 of Pelikan, Christianity and Classical Culture, “The One and the Three.”
37. “If your own Scriptures are sufficient for you, why do you nibble at the learning of the Greeks?” Julian had asked in his Contra Galilaeos (quoted in Smith, Julian’s Gods, p. 198). For the philosophical problems created by the Trinity, see the entry “Trinity” in Edward Craig, ed., The Routledge Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (London and New York, 1998).
38. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae 1a 3c.1c.
39. Pelikan, Christianity and Classical Culture, p. 241.
40. Ibid., pp. 246–47.
41. Ibid., p. 233:
The Nicene dogma did not abolish the need for apophasis [assertions about God expressed in a negative form], as a shallow interpretation of orthodox doctrine might have led someone to suppose. If anything, orthodox trinitarianism intensified that need, for any increase in knowledge about God (above all the revelation of the knowledge of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) ultimately consisted in an increase in the knowledge that God was and remained incomprehensible and transcendent.
42. See, for this, Wiles, Archetypal Heresy, pp. 40–51.
43. N. McLynn, Ambrose of Milan: Church and Court in a Christian Capital (Berkeley, 1994), p. 106.
44. Quoted in Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, p. 821. Hanson has full details of the Council of Constantinople, but I have also drawn on Deno John Geanakoplos, “The Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople (381): Proceedings and Theology of the Holy Spirit,” in his Constantinople and the West (Madison, Wis., and London, 1989).
45. Hanson The Search for the Christian Doctrine, p. 828. There is one theory that the final form of the Nicene Creed (that is, with the Holy Spirit fully part of the Godhead) dates from the 370s, although another says it was originally a baptismal creed from Constantinople that was developed. The first known recitations of the creed in a service date from much later, from Antioch at the end of the fifth century. Rome did not adopt the creed officially until 1014 (and so it is hardly surprising that Augustine does not seem to have heard of it). See entry “Nicene Creed” in F. Cross and E. A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed. (Oxford, 1997). The links between Theodosius, the council and the Cappodocian Fathers still needs further research, particularly concerning the degree to which the council drew directly on the writings of the Cappadocian Fathers. For divine condemnation, note the words of the theologian Ambrosiaster from these same years: “Those people who have discordant opinions, their thoughts being different from the Catholic faith about Christ . . . their exchange of thoughts will accuse them on the day of judgement.” Quoted in Peter Garnsey and Caroline Humfress, The Evolution of the Late Antique World (Cambridge, 2001), p. 137.
46. Gregory of Nazianzus is worth quoting in this context:
If the truth be told my attitude towards all gatherings of bishops is to avoid them. I have never seen a good outcome to any synod, or a synod which produced deliverance from evils rather than the addition to them . . . rivalries and manoeuvres always prevail over reason [sic] . . . and in trying to decide between others it is easier to get accused of wickedness itself than to deal with their wickedness. Consequently I have withdrawn to myself. I consider retirement to be the only means of saving my soul.
Epistle 130, quoted in Rosemary Radford Ruether, Gregory of Nazianzus, Rhetor and Philosopher (Oxford, 1969), p. 48.
47. Wiles, Archetypal Heresy, p. 44.
48. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, p. 855.
49. Ibid., p. 852. In his Ecclesiastical History (V, 8), the early-fifth-century Socrates notes: “Great disturbances occurred in other cities as the Arians were ejected from their churches.” Williams, Ambrose of Milan, suggests that Ambrose’s attempt to impose Nicene orthodoxy in Milan at the Council of Aquileia in 381 actually led to an increase in support for the Homoean alternative. See his chap. 7, “A Homoian Revival in Milan.”
50. Quoted in Kallistos Ware, “Eastern Christendom,” chap. 4, in John McManners, ed., The Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity (Oxford, 1990), p. 137. It is certainly arguable that historians and theologians have underestimated the hostility to Theodosius’ imposition of “his” faith—the widespread opposition to the imposition of Nicene orthodoxy in Constantinople provides a plausible explanation as to why the creed formulated by the council of 381 was given so little publicity. One could go on to suggest that it was not until 451, when Homoean Christianity had largely disappeared, that it was possible to proclaim the creed openly in the east. As mentioned above there is no record of its public use in the east before the late fifth century. This is an area of history that needs further research.
51. S. Mitchell, Anatolia: Land, Men and Gods in Asia Minor (Oxford, 1993), vol. 2, ch. 17, section X, “The Epigraphy of the Anatolian Heresies.”
52. For Palladius’ attack on De Fide, see Williams, Ambrose of Milan, pp. 148–53.
53. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, pp. 672–73.
54. Wiles, Archetypal Heresy, p. 39.
55. See comment ibid., p. 50. One scholar quoted by Wiles describes the Homoean Goths as having “a ponderous and earthbound reliance on the text of the Bible” (E. A. Thompson, The Visigoths in the Time of Ulfila [Oxford, 1966]). There is perhaps a hint of condescension here reflecting the traditional attitude to Arians by a conventional scholar, but the point is made—they clung to the scriptures.
56. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, p. 831. For the debate, in which Maximinus was considered the winner, see A. D. Fitzgerald, ed., Augustine Through the Ages (Grand Rapids, Mich., and Cambridge, 1999), p. 550. The full text of the debate is given in Arianism and Other Heresies, vol. 18 of The Works of Saint Augustine, Augustinian Heritage Institute, J. Rutelle, ed. (New York, 1995), pp. 175–230.
57. Fitzgerald, ed., Augustine Through the Ages, p. 80. The article on “authority” in this excellent survey of Augustine and his time gives a number of quotations from Augustine illustrating his adherence to orthodoxy when interpreting the scriptures. His insistence that the scriptures be interpreted to support the doctrine of the Trinity comes from his De Trinitate 1.11.22. One prominent Italian scholar has summed it up as follows: “The whole development of Catholic doctrine is based on the interpretation of a certain number of passages in Scripture in the light of particular needs” (M. Simonetti, Profilo storico dell’esegesi patristica [Rome, 1980], quoted in D. Janes, God and Gold in Late Antiquity [Cambridge, 1998]).
58. Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana 3:5. The translation is from the Oxford World’s Classics edition (Oxford, 1999) by R. P. H. Green. Pelikan explores the same issue from the perspective of the Cappadocian Fathers in Christianity and Classical Culture; see pp. 225–26 especially.
59. Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana 3:33.
60. Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1, p. 76.
61. The most common interpretation of the S. Pudenziana mosaic, adopted here, is of Christ as emperor, with reference being made back to the frontal image of Constantine on his arch as a model. However, a strong critique of this interpretation has been made by T. Mathews in his The Clash of Gods: A Reinterpretation of Early Christian Art, rev. paperback ed. (Princeton, 1999), chap. 4. Mathews sees the Christ of the mosaic essentially as a teaching figure, with his Apostles as “co-philosophers,” and as representative of a bishop rather than an emperor. He concludes his assessment (p. 114): “The mosaic is propaganda not for the imperial aspirations of Christ, but for the divine origins of ecclesiastical authority.” A full study of the iconography is to be found in G. Hellemo, Adventus Domini (Leiden, 1989), pp. 41–64, and it is this I have drawn on here. There is also much relevant material in A. Grabar, Christian Iconography: A Study of Its Origins (London, 1968), esp. pp. 60–86, which has a wealth of illustrations relating the mosaic to contemporary pagan art.
62. Mathews, The Clash of the Gods, p. 104.
63. R. Krautheimer, Rome: Profile of a City, 312–1308 (Princeton, 2000), pp. 42–43. Margaret Mitchell’s study was published in Tubingen in 2000.
1. Quoted in Philip Rousseau, Ascetics, Authority and the Church in the Age of Jerome and Cassian (Oxford, 1978), p. 84.
2. Eusebius: Life of Constantine, ed. A. Cameron and S. Hall (Oxford, 1999), 3:14.
3. R. Krautheimer, Three Christian Capitals (Berkeley, 1983), p. 100.
4. Ammianus Marcellinus, The Later Roman Empire xxvii. 3.14.
5. D. Hunt, “The Church as a Public Institution,” chap. 8 in A. Cameron and P. Garnsey, eds., The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. XIII (Cambridge, 1998), is my main source for these points. Guy Stroumsa notes on p. 112 of his Barbarian Philosophy: The Religious Revolution of Early Christianity (Tubingen, 1999): “in pre-Nicene Christian writings the birthplace of the new religion was first and foremost identified as the city of Christ’s killers.” Chap. 18 in Stroumsa’s book, “Mystical Jerusalems,” is also of interest.
6. See K. Bradley, Slavery and Society at Rome (Cambridge, 1994), pp. 145–53, for this argument.
7. Augustine, The City of God 19:15. No effective Christian opposition to slavery was shown until the eighteenth century, and, as debates over the issue during the American Civil War showed, there was no consensus that it was against the teachings of the Bible even a century later. For Augustine’s thoughts on slavery, see Peter Garnsey, Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine (Cambridge, 1996), chap. 13. Garnsey also discusses the views of Paul (chap. 11) and Ambrose (chap. 12) in addition to those of earlier classical authors.
8. Aristotle, Politics 1330 a 8–160.
9. Quoted in S. Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery (London, 1985), p. 162.
10. These calculations come from D. Janes, God and Gold in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, 1998), pp. 55–57. Janes’ study is essential for an understanding of the rationales that lay behind accepting opulence in building.
11. The relationship between Christianity and art remained an ambivalent one. There is no indication that Jesus wished resources to be spent on opulent decoration (if anything the opposite, Luke 21:5–6). The spending of so much money on material possession was in essence a pagan custom transferred by the state into Christianity. It is remarkable how many traditional histories of church architecture fail to mention the enormous resources involved and the shifts in perspective needed to justify the building of churches. A common approach in such histories is to say the large churches were built simply because Christianity was now free to operate openly and was attracting larger congregations.
Such offerings were always vulnerable to alternative interpretations of the Christian message, as witnessed by the massive destruction of Christian art by the iconoclasts of eighth-century Byzantium and by Protestant Christians in Reformation Europe. One must also remember that vast quantities of pagan art and architecture were destroyed by Christians.
12. Janes, God and Gold, p. 78.
13. P. Brown, “Art and Society in Late Antiquity,” in K. Weitzmann, ed., Age of Spirituality: A Symposium (New York, 1980).
14. Janes, God and Gold, p. 145.
15. S. MacCormack, Art and Ceremony in Late Antiquity (Berkeley and London, 1981), p. 130.
16. Janes, God and Gold, p. 119.
17. Ibid., p. 169.
18. Ibid., p. 137. Specifically on renunciation of property, see D. Trout, Paulinus of Nola (Berkeley and London, 1999), chap. 6, “Salvation Economics: The Theory and Practice of Property Renunciation.”
19. Quoted in P. Brown, Power and Persuasion in Late Antiquity (Madison, Wis., and London, 1992), p. 121.
20. Hunt, “The Church as a Public Institution,” p. 263.
21. R. MacMullen, Christianising the Roman Empire (A.D. 100–400) (New Haven and London, 1984), p. 115.
22. Brown, Power and Persuasion, p. 148. For Synesius, see J. W. Liebeschuetz, Barbarians and Bishops: Army, Church and State in the Age of Arcadius and Chrysostom (Oxford, 1990), chap. 23, “The Bishop and Public Life in the Cyrenaica of Synesius.”
23. Quoted in Hunt, “The Church as a Public Institution,” p. 265. An anonymous Catholic priest writing in the April 2000 edition of the magazine Prospect (London) tells the story of how a Vatican representative sent to Britain after the Second Vatican Council (1962–65) brought the message that English Catholic bishops should be of the appropriate class, public school and Oxbridge educated, so that they would be socially fitted to develop ecumenical links with the Anglican bishops!
24. Brown, Power and Persuasion, p. 122. See also chap. 2 of his study.
25. Hunt, “The Church as a Public Institution,” p. 266.
26. Brown, Power and Persuasion, p. 150.
27. Ibid., p. 98. The issue is fully discussed by Peter Brown in his Poverty and Leadership in the Later Roman Empire (Hanover and London, 2002). Brown argues that the bishops’ acceptance of their responsibility for the poor was in part a recognition of the privileges they had been granted (p. 32).
28. The quotation from Ammianus Marcellinus (xxvii.3.5) comes from S. Mitchell, Anatolia: Land, Men and Gods in Asia Minor (Oxford, 1993), vol. 2, p. 82. The quotation from Basil is in the same book, p. 83.
29. Letters of Basil 28, quoted ibid., vol. 2, p. 84.
30. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 77.
31. Brown, Power and Persuasion, p. 16.
1. N. McLynn, Ambrose of Milan: Church and Court in a Christian Capital (Berkeley and London, 1994), p. 371, which I have drawn on heavily for this chapter. See also D. Williams, Ambrose of Milan and the End of the Nicene–Arian Conflicts (Oxford, 1995). A short and balanced account of Ambrose’s career is that by Ivor Davidson, chap. 47 in P. Esler, ed., The Early Christian World, vol. 2 (New York and London, 2000).
2. McLynn, Ambrose of Milan, p. 376.
3. Augustine, Confessions 6.3.3.
4. J. Kelly, Jerome (London, 1975), p. 143. For an alternative view on Ambrose and On Duties, see M. L. Colish, “Cicero, Ambrose and Stoic Ethics: Transmission or Transformation?” in A. S. Bernardo and S. Levin, eds., The Classics in the Middle Ages (New York, 1990).
5. For discussion of this basilica, see R. Krautheimer, Three Christian Capitals (Berkeley, 1983), pp. 81–86, and McLynn, Ambrose of Milan, pp. 174–79.
6. Williams, Ambrose of Milan, chap. 5; R. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God (Edinburgh, 1988), pp. 667–75.
7. R. Lim, Public Disputation, Power and Social Order in Late Antiquity (Berkeley and London, 1995), explores the way in which written texts presented as the basis for discussion came to displace oral debate during these years.
8. Williams, Ambrose of Milan, pp. 154–55.
9. McLynn, Ambrose of Milan, pp. 181–95.
10. Williams, Ambrose of Milan, p. 216.
11. Ambrose, Letters, trans. Sr. Melchior Beyenka (New York, 1954). Letter number 61 in this collection, number 22 in the older Benedictine enumeration.
12. McLynn covers these points in Ambrose of Milan, chap. 7.
13. Ambrose, Letters; letter number 2 in this collection, number 40 in the Benedictine enumeration.
14. M. Simon, Verus Israel (Oxford, 1986), pp. 227–28.
15. McLynn, Ambrose of Milan, p. 308.
16. Ibid., p. 315.
17. Ibid., pp. 358–60. The quotation is taken from S. MacCormack, Art and Ceremony in Late Antiquity (Berkeley and London, 1981), pp. 145–50.
18. Davidson, in Esler, ed., The Early Christian World, vol. 2, p. 1197.
1. The diptych had apparently been brought from Rome in the seventh century by one Bercharius and lodged in an abbey he founded in France at Montier-en-Der (Haut Marne). There the panels had been adapted to serve as the door leaves of a thirteenth-century reliquary casket. The abbey had suffered badly in the French Revolution, and the panels had been burned and apparently lost. The Musée de Cluny panel was recovered in a well in 1860 and acquired by the Musée soon afterwards. The Victoria and Albert panel was found by a local collector in France who sold it in 1862 to a Mr. Webb, who in his turn sold it to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1865. I found it a moving experience to visit an exhibition in Rome in the spring of 2001 at which the two sides of the diptych had been reunited, presumably for the first time in the city since the seventh century. Here I have drawn on two major articles on the diptych: B. Kiilerich, “A Different Interpretation of the Nicomachorum-Symmachorum Diptych,” Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum 34 (1991): 115, and D. Kinney, “The Iconography of the Ivory Diptych Nicomachorum-Symmachorum,” Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum 37 (1994): 64.
2. Kiilerich, “A Different Interpretation,” pp. 118–19.
3. Ibid., p. 123.
4. Ibid., p. 122.
5. See Kinney, “The Iconography of the Ivory Diptych,” pp. 74–82, for the wide variety of contexts in which such torches have been found.
6. Ibid., pp. 67–73, for the contexts in which representations of pietas have been found.
7. For the full text of the letters and background details, see B. Croke and J. Harries, Religious Conflict in Fourth-Century Rome (Sydney, 1982), chap. 2, “The Debate on the Altar of Victory, A.D. 384.” Earlier the pagan orator Themistius had used a similar argument in an Appealing Oration to the emperor Valens (364–78), who had tried to uphold Homoean Christianity against its rivals. Themistius told Valens
that he ought not to be surprised at the difference of judgement in religious questions among Christians; inasmuch as that the discrepancy was trifling when compared to the multitude of conflicting opinions current among the heathen; for these amount to above three hundred, that dissensions occurred was an inevitable consequence of this disagreement, but that God would be more glorified by a diversity of sentiment, and the greatness of his majesty be more venerated from the fact of its not being easy to have knowledge of him.
The oration is quoted in Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, 4, 32.
8. For the argument that Praetextatus is the man commemorated, see Kiilerich, “A Different Interpretation,” pp. 126–27, from which the quotation in the next paragraph has been taken. The quotation about Praetextatus’ intellectual qualities, which was recorded by one Macrobius, can be found in W. Liebeschuetz, “The Significance of the Speech of Praetextatus,” in P. Athanassiadi and M. Frede, eds., Pagan Monotheism in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 1999), p. 196. Praetextatus’ funerary monument has survived (in the Capitoline Museum in Rome). It includes details of the many cults with which he was associated. The dedication on it to his wife, Paulina, is worth quoting to give a flavour of pagan marriage in late antiquity.
Paulina, partner of my heart, nurse of modesty, bond of chastity, pure love and loyalty produced in heaven, to whom I have entrusted the deep secrets of my heart, gift of the gods who bind our marriage couch with friendly and modest ties; by the devotion of a mother, the bond of a sister, the modesty of a daughter, and by all the loyalty friends show, we are united by the custom of age, the pact of consecration, by the yoke of the marriage vow and perfect harmony, helpmate of your husband, loving, adoring, devoted.
Paulina’s own tribute to her husband is inscribed on the back of the monument. Quoted in Croke and Harries, Religious Conflict, pp. 106–7.
9. See Jerome’s Letter XXII in Select Letters of St. Jerome, trans. F. A. Wright (London, 1933).
10. See J. Kelly, Jerome (London, 1975), p. 96. Jerome makes the point in his Letter XXIV.
11. Quoted in P. Rousseau, Ascetics, Authority and the Church in the Age of Jerome and Cassian (Oxford, 1978), p. 119.
12. Quoted in R. Smith, Julian’s Gods: Religion and Philosophy in the Thought and Action of Julian the Apostate (London and New York, 1995), p. 224. There is some dispute over the origin and date of this anonymous poem, but it is possibly an authentic plea to the emperor Julian.
1. Quoted in J. Kelly, Jerome (London, 1975), p. 132.
2. Phaedo 66 C; quoted in J. Dillon, “Rejecting the Body, Redefining the Body: Some Remarks on the Development of Platonist Asceticism,” in V. Wimbush and R. Valantasis, eds., Asceticism (New York and Oxford, 1995).
3. The quotation is from P. Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York, 1988; London, 1989), p. 19.
4. Quoted in G. Clark, “Women and Asceticism in Late Antiquity: The Reversal of Status and Gender,” in Wimbush and Valantasis, eds., Asceticism, p. 43.
5. Quotations from his Letter XXII.
6. R. A. Markus, The End of Ancient Christianity (Cambridge, 1990), p. 166.
7. P. Brown, “Asceticism: Pagan and Christian,” in A. Cameron and P. Garnsey, eds., The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. XIII (Cambridge, 1998), p. 618.
8. The quotation from Epictetus is from his Discourses 4.10.16. The other two quotations are taken from Brown, The Body and Society, pp. 375 and 309. Aristotle’s views on moderation between two extremes are also important here. See his Nicomachean Ethics II. 6–7 and comments on the theme in R. Sorabji, Emotion and Peace of Mind: From Stoic Agitation to Christian Temptation (Oxford, 2000), chap. 14, “The Traditions of Moderation and Eradication.”
9. See G. Stroumsa, Barbarian Philosophy: The Religious Revolution of Early Christianity (Tubingen, 1999), chap. 10, “Caro Salutis Cardo: Shaping the Person in Early Christian Thought,” especially pp. 177–81. There are immense philosophical problems about what is meant by “will” here. See, as an introduction, C. Kahn, “Discovering the Will: From Aristotle to Augustine,” in J. M. Dillon and A. A. Long, eds., The Question of Eclecticism: Studies in Later Greek Philosophy (Berkeley and London, 1988).
10. P. Brown, “Asceticism: Pagan and Christian,” in Cameron and Garnsey, eds., The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. XIII, p. 616.
11. See A. Cameron, Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire (Berkeley and London, 1991), p. 153.
12. Brown, “Asceticism,” p. 607. The quotation comes from section 67 of the Life of Anthony.
13. Eunapius of Sardis, Vitae Sophistarium vi.11 (c. 395); quoted in P. Rousseau, Ascetics, Authority and the Church in the Age of Jerome and Cassian (Oxford, 1978), p. 9.
14. Quoted in Clark, “Women and Asceticism,” pp. 34 and 43.
15. Brown, The Body and Society, p. 370.
16. Quoted on p. xix of M. Warner, Alone of All Her Sex (London, 1985).
17. See H. Bettenson, The Early Christian Fathers (Oxford, 1956), pp. 82–83 for Irenaeus’ views and pp. 126–27 for Tertullian’s.
18. Kelly, Jerome, p. 301.
19. Vasiliki Limberis, Divine Heiress: The Virgin Mary and the Creation of Christian Constantinople (London and New York, 1994). As Limberis shows, in the great hymn to Mary, the Akathistos Hymn, Mary absorbed many of the epithets used of both Rhea and another ancient goddess, Hecate. For instance, Hecate is virgin but also a protecting mother (one of her most common roles was as a carer for orphans), and the Virgin Mary is acclaimed in the same role in the hymn. Hecate is also seen as an initiator into divine knowledge, and Mary is hailed as “O knowledge, superseding the wise,” the one “who enlightens the minds of believers” and “who extricates us from the depths of ignorance.”
20. For further examples of the adoption of Isis’ attributes by Mary, see R. Witt, Isis in the Greco-Roman World (London, 1971), pp. 272–73.
21. Warner, Alone of All Her Sex, p. 58.
22. Kelly, Jerome, pp. 180–87, for Jerome’s views on Jovinian. P. Brown, “Christianisation and Religious Conflict,” in Cameron and Garnsey, eds., The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. XIII, p. 638, for Jovinian’s flogging in Rome. Tertullian’s view is quoted in Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1 (Chicago and London, 1971), p. 288.
23. Rousseau, Ascetics, Authority and the Church, p. 179.
24. Kelly, Jerome, p. 99.
25. Rousseau, Ascetics, Authority and the Church, p. 29.
26. Ibid., p. 152.
27. Kallistos Ware “The Way of the Ascetics, Negative or Affirmative?” in Wimbush and Valantasis, Asceticism, p. 7. See also the account of the life of St. Theodore of Sykeon, pp. 122–50 in vol. 2 of S. Mitchell, Anatolia: Land, Men and Gods in Asia Minor (Oxford, 1993). Theodore specialized in cures and exorcisms.
28. The French sociologist Emile Durkheim spotted the problem.
Imagine a society of saints, a perfect cloister of exemplary individuals. Crimes, properly so called, will be there unknown; but faults which appear venial to the layman will create the same scandal there that the ordinary offence does in ordinary consciousness. If, then, this society has the power to judge and punish, it will define these acts as criminal and judge them as such.
From Emile Durkheim, Rules of Sociological Method, Eng. trans. (Glencoe, Ill., 1950).
29. Rousseau, Ascetics, Authority and the Church, p. 187.
30. Ibid., p. 49.
31. S. Elm, Virgins of God (Oxford, 1994), p. 63.
32. Ibid., p. 69.
33. Rousseau, Ascetics, Authority and the Church, pp. 195–96.
34. Ibid., p. 55.
35. Ibid., p. 220.
36. Ibid., p. 151, and one might mention the modern example of the late Cardinal Basil Hume, who followed the same path.
37. Markus, The End of Ancient Christianity, p. 197.
38. Quoted in Rousseau, Ascetics, Authority and the Church, p. 105.
39. Quoted in R. MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries (New Haven and London, 1997), p. 16.
40. Seneca, Letter LXXX, 3–4.
41. Ambrose, Expositio in Psalmum 118, 4.22; quoted in R. F. Newbould, “Personality Structure and Response to Adversity in Early Christian Hagiography,” Numen XXXI (1984): 199.
42. William James’ book originated as the Gifford Lectures delivered in Edinburgh in 1901–2 and was published for the first time in 1902. The quotation comes from lecture 13.
1. Eusebius: Life of Constantine, ed. A. Cameron and S. Hall (Oxford, 1999), 3:15.
2. See the introduction ibid., especially pp. 34–39.
3. Quoted in E. M. Pickman, The Mind of Latin Christendom (New York, 1937), p. 545.
4. See C. Kelly, “Emperors, Government and Bureaucracy,” in The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. XIII, ed. A. Cameron and P. Garnsey (Cambridge, 1998), p. 141.
5. Ibid., p. 143.
6. Ibid., p. 142.
7. For a full account of the affair, see J. Kelly, Golden Mouth: The Story of John Chrysostom (London, 1995), chap. 6.
8. Quoted in R. MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries (New Haven and London, 1997), p. 27.
9. As in The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. XIII, pp. 638–39.
10. Ibid., p. 642.
11. I have relied heavily on J. Kelly, Golden Mouth, for my account of John Chrysostom’s life, but see also J. Liebeschuetz, Barbarians and Bishops: Army, Church and State in the Age of Arcadius and Chrysostom (Oxford, 1990), part 3 in particular.
12. J. Kelly, Golden Mouth, pp. 45–46, for Jerome’s views on Paul and virginity. The quotation comes from Hubart Richards, St. Paul and His Epistles: A New Introduction (London, 1979). See now Margaret Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet: John Chrysostom and the Art of Pauline Interpretation (Tubingen, 2000), for an analysis of John’s attitude toward Paul.
13. J. Kelly, Golden Mouth, pp. 97–98. The “silver chamber pot” quotation comes from Liebeschuetz, Barbarians and Bishops, p. 176.
14. J. Kelly, Golden Mouth, pp. 62–66, for a survey of the sermons. The fullest analysis is to be found in R. L. Wilken, John Chrysostom and the Jews: Rhetoric and Reality in the Late Fourth Century (Berkeley and London, 1983). There is useful background information (relating John’s sermons to earlier anti-Judaism) in chap. 8 of G. Stroumsa, Barbarian Philosophy: The Religious Revolution of Early Christianity (Tubingen, 1999).
15. For the conflict between John Chrysostom and the emperor’s views of the church, see Vasiliki Limberis, Divine Heiress: The Virgin Mary and the Creation of Christian Constantinople (London and New York, 1994), pp. 37–40. Limberis sees the conflict as one not just of personalities but of irreconcilable differences over the degree to which the church should submit to the state. Kelly considers the issues surrounding the intervention in Asia Minor in Golden Mouth, pp. 178–80.
16. Despite their unruliness, the loyalty of the crowds was eventually rewarded. In 438, the emperor Theodosius II, anxious to calm tensions within the church, ordered the return of John’s body to Constantinople. It was received with great ceremony, although whether John would have approved of his resting place, in the church of the Holy Apostles close to the bodies of Arcadius and Eudoxia, is another matter. Even this was not his final grave—his body was one of the many relics stolen by the Venetians and the Crusaders after their sack of the city in 1204 and is reputedly now in St. Peter’s in Rome.
17. For the controversy and its main protagonists I have drawn on the excellent accounts given by F. Young in her From Nicaea to Chalcedon (London, 1993), chap. 5, and J. Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1 (Chicago and London, 1971), chap. 5, “The Person of the God-Man.” The complex philosophical problems involved are also dissected by C. Stead in chap. 17, “Two Natures United,” of his Philosophy in Christian Antiquity (Cambridge, 1994). There is much in this chapter about the ingenuity of the theologians. How could two natures, divine and mortal, which were opposites, possibly be combined? What physical analogy might be used? Were they like a pile of beans and peas, materially separate from each other even when mingled, or two coexisting entities that maintain their identities like heat in a piece of iron, or did they lost their identity in each other, like tin and copper in bronze (an analogy drawn from Stoic physics)?
18. Augustine, Confessions 7:19. Adoptionism had an important revival in Spain as late as the eighth century.
19. There are short historical accounts of the Council of Ephesus and that at Chalcedon in the encyclopaedia section of G. W. Bowersock, P. Brown and O. Grabar, eds., Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Postclassical World (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1999). See also the comments on Chalcedon by R. Lim in his Public Disputation, Power, and Social Order in Late Antiquity (Berkeley and London, 1995), pp. 224–26.
20. The quotation on Leo’s role comes from J. Herrin, The Formation of Christendom (Oxford, 1987), p. 103. While the council provided a formulation of co-existence of the two natures, it did not, perhaps wisely, try to suggest how they co-existed, and the debate over the two natures of Christ was “acted out” when Christ had to be portrayed on the cross. H. Belting, Likeness and Presence: AHistory of the Image Before the Era of Art, trans. E. Jephcott (Chicago and London, 1994), poses the question (p. 102): “Who was it who hung on the Cross? The man Jesus or only God or both in one. And who, if anyone, died on the Cross? If Jesus is shown dead does this not risk falling into the heresy of suggesting that God died? If he is shown alive to what extent is it right to show his suffering?” There were clearly inhibitions about showing Christ as dead. The earliest known depiction is believed to be one from the ninth century in the monastery of St. Catherine in the Sinai desert.
Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity, pp. 193–94, sums up the Council of Chalcedon as follows:
I take the view that the Chalcedonian definition was a fairly limited definition; it was a statement of the conditions that needed to be met, within a given horizon of thought, for a satisfactory doctrine of Christ; it did not amount to a positive solution . . . My case is that the problem could not then be solved because too many issues were simultaneously in question, some of them matters of open controversy, some of them undetected assumptions and inconsistencies.
He then goes on to try to sort some of these out. This is, of course, the essential difficulty in Christian theology, finding firm foundations on which to build coherent doctrine.
21. G. W. Bowersock, Hellenism in Late Antiquity (Ann Arbor, 1990), pp. 17–19.
22. P. Brown, “Christianisation and Religious Conflict,” in Cameron and Garnsey, eds., The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. XIII, p. 660. On Paulinus there is now an outstanding biography, which ranges far wider than just the life of its subject: D. Trout, Paulinus of Nola: Life, Letters, and Poems (Berkeley and London, 1999). The sacrifice of two hogs and a heifer at St. Felix’s shrine is recounted in a poem of Paulinus written in 406 and described by Trout, p. 179.
23. MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism, p. 121.
24. Ibid., p. 116.
25. Ibid., p. 124.
26. Ibid., p. 121.
27. Bowersock, Hellenism in Late Antiquity, pp. 49–52, with illustrations.
28. MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism, pp. 43–45.
29. Story recounted in Brown, “Christianisation and Religious Conflict,” pp. 648–49.
30. N. de Lange, Atlas of the Jewish World (Oxford, 1984), p. 34.
31. MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism, pp. 13–14.
32. Ibid., p. 66.
33. Ibid., p. 60.
34. M. Kline, Mathematical Thought from Ancient to Modern Times, vol. 1 (Oxford and New York, 1990), p. 181. Gibbon writes as follows (chap. 47):
Hypatia, the daughter of Theon the mathematician, was initiated in her father’s studies: her learned comments have elucidated the geometry of Apollonius and Diophantus; and she publicly taught, both at Athens and Alexandria, the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. In the bloom of beauty, and in the maturity of wisdom, the modest maid refused her lovers and instructed her disciples; the persons most illustrious for their rank and merit were impatient to visit the female philosopher; and Cyril beheld with a jealous eye the gorgeous train of horses and slaves who crowded the door of her academy. A rumour was spread among the Christians that the daughter of Theon was the only obstacle to the reconciliation of the prefect and the archbishop; and that obstacle was speedily removed. On a fatal day, in the holy season of Lent, Hypatia was torn from her chariot, stripped naked, dragged to the church, and inhumanly butchered by the hands of Peter the reader and a troop of savage and inhuman fanatics: her flesh was scraped from her bones with sharp oyster shells, and her quivering limbs were delivered to the flames. The just progress of inquiry and punishment was stopped by seasonable gifts: but the murder of Hypatia has imprinted an indelible stain on the character and religion of Cyril of Alexandria.
The story of Hypatia lived on. The novelist Charles Kingsley used Gibbon’s account for his own novel, Hypatia, a best-seller in Britain in 1853.
35. Quoted in P. Chuvin, A Chronicle of the Last of the Pagans (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1990), p. 133.
36. Bowersock, Hellenism in Late Antiquity, pp. 1–3. For evidence of the Christian groups see S. Mitchell, Anatolia: Land, Men and Gods in Asia Minor, vol. 2, chap. 17, part X, “The Epigraphy of the Anatolian Heresies.”
37. Chuvin, A Chronicle of the Last of the Pagans, p. 141.
38. Quoted in Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide, 4th ed. (Oxford, 1998), p. 86.
1. The evidence for Peter’s presence in Rome is flimsy, but no other city (outside Antioch, where by tradition he was the first bishop, and, of course, Jerusalem) lays claim to his presence, and so most scholars are prepared to accept that he did travel to Rome. How and why is difficult to guess. It is known that Jewish groups from the city made pilgrimages to Jerusalem, so Peter, perhaps at a time when his own authority among Christian Jews in Jerusalem was coming under threat from James, “the brother of Jesus,” may have decided to return with them in the hope of regaining his status elsewhere. The legend that he was bishop of Rome (if that was the position he held when in the city) for twenty-five years seems to have been a third-century invention.
2. Gregory is quoted in R. Markus, Gregory the Great and His World (Cambridge, 1997), p. 7. For the linguistic separation of east and west, see J. Herrin, The Formation of Christendom (Oxford, 1987), pp. 104–5.
3. From De praescriptione haereticorum (c. 200), quoted in H. Bettenson, Documents of the Christian Church (Oxford, 1943), p. 8. For Tertullian, see the entries in general reference books such as The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed., ed. F. Cross and E. Livingstone (Oxford, 1997), and P. Esler, ed., The Early Christian World (London and New York, 2000), vol. 2, chap. 40, by David Wright. The quotation about Tertullian’s lack of curiositas comes from Wright, p. 1033, although Wright warns his readers not to dismiss Tertullian’s lack of interest in Greek philosophy too readily. He had read widely in the classics although he kept them subordinate to the Christian faith that he preached so vigorously. One can find, for instance, elements of Stoicism in his thinking as when he argued that through God “we find this whole fabric of the universe to be once for all disposed, equipped, ordered as it stands, and supplied with the complete guidance of reason.” (The Stoics argued that the supreme divine principle, call it what you will, suffused the cosmos and provided it with an underlying order.) Also see chap. 3 in P. Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York, 1988; London, 1989), for views on Tertullian and his abiding concern, human sexuality. A full selection of Tertullian’s writings is to be found in H. Bettenson, The Early Christian Fathers (Oxford, 1956), pp. 104–67.
4. For this account of Jerome I have drawn on the full and readable life by J. Kelly, Jerome (London, 1975).
5. Ibid., p. 218. Taken from Letter LVI in Jerome’s collected correspondence.
6. Letter CX in Jerome’s collected correspondence.
7. Quoted in Kelly, Jerome, p. 331.
8. There is a mass of work on Augustine. The standard life is still P. Brown, Augustine of Hippo (London, 1977; rev. ed., Berkeley and London, 2000). It is very vivid and insightful, and certainly one of the finest biographies of any figure from the ancient world. A shorter life is by H. Chadwick, Augustine (Oxford, 1986). The massive encyclopaedic study Augustine Through the Ages, ed. A. Fitzgerald (Grand Rapids, Mich., and Cambridge, 1999), is an essential companion to further study. Highly recommended are C. Harrison, Augustine: Christian Truth and Fractured Humanity (Oxford, 2000); J. Rist, Augustine: Ancient Thought Baptised (Cambridge, 1994); and a more critical study by a philosopher, C. Kirwan, Augustine (London and New York, 1989). Harrison contains an overview of the main works analysed in the text and is perhaps the best starting point. Recent issues in Augustinian studies are covered in R. Dodaro and G. Lawless, eds., Augustine and His Critics (London and New York, 2000).
9. See the entry on Luther in Fitzgerald, ed., Augustine Through the Ages, p. 515. One of the themes of the Council of Trent (1545–63) was a reassertion of Catholic interpretations of Augustine against those of Luther.
10. Uta Ranke-Heinemann, Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven: Women, Sexuality and the Catholic Church, trans. P. Heinegg (New York, 1990), p. 75.
11. The City of God 10:32.
12. Confessions 8:12. I have used the translation by R. S. Pine Coffin in the Penguin Classics edition, first published in 1961. It is interesting that Augustine was converted by a verse of Paul’s, not one of Jesus’. Scholars have noted that he seemed relatively uninterested in the person of Christ.
13. Confessions 9:10.
14. See P. Fredriksen, “Paul and Augustine: Conversion Narratives, Orthodox Traditions and the Retrospective Self,” Journal of Theological Studies 37 (1986): 3–35.
15. These two quotations are taken from the Confessions, 10:8 and 2:2. The introspective nature of Augustine is well illustrated by the following quotation: “We do not consult a speaker who utters sounds to the outside, but a truth that resides within . . . Christ, who is said to dwell in the inner man—he it is who teaches.” The influence of Platonism, in the idea that one is recollecting what is already inside oneself, can also be seen here. From Augustine’s De Magistro, “On the Teacher,” paragraph 38, quoted in J. Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1 (Chicago and London, 1971), p. 295.
16. G. Wills, Saint Augustine (London and New York, 1999), p. 93, quoting Albrecht Dihle.
17. C. Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity (Cambridge, 1994), p. 223. Stead goes on (p. 227) to consider the problems of isolating oneself from empirical evidence.
One cannot explain human knowledge as a purely active process; it always involves attention to data which are not of our own making, apart from the exceptional case where we attend to our own creative thoughts and fantasies. Augustine often seems to see this clearly enough; but he does not take the decisive step of abandoning the will-o’-the-wisp of a purely active intellect, and the artificial theories to which it leads.
There is much wisdom in this statement, and it is of relevance to the theme in this book as a whole.
18. From the article “Reason” in A. Hastings, ed., The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought (Oxford and New York, 2000), p. 596. Compare the words of Joan of Arc in George Bernard Shaw’s St. Joan, scene 5, when she is asked by Dunois, the Bastard of Orleans, why she provides him with reasons for her belief in her voices. “Well, I have to find reasons for you, because you do not believe in my voices. But the voices come first; and I find the reasons after . . .”
19. Quotations taken from Wills, Saint Augustine, p. 44.
20. R. MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries (London and New Haven, 1997), p. 94.
21. See G. Bonner, “Augustine as Biblical Scholar,” in P. R. Ackroyd and C. F. Evans, eds., The Cambridge History of the Bible, vol 1 (Cambridge, 1970), pp. 541–63. In order to show how lively Augustine’s imagination could be, I summarize (from this article) Augustine’s analysis of the 153 fish caught in the miraculous draught (John 21:11). The sum of the integers 1 to 17 is 153. Taking 17, this is the sum of 10 (the Ten Commandments) and 7 (the number of the Holy Spirit, who enables the elect to fulfill the law). Thus 153 fishes comes to represent the whole number of the elect, as regenerated by the Holy Spirit. It is also three times 50 plus 3, the persons of the Trinity. The number 50 represents the square of 7 (the number of the Spirit) with one added to show the unity of the Spirit, whose operations are sevenfold and who was sent on the fiftieth day to the disciples! Note the mildly sarcastic comment of R. Mortley in his From Word to Silence, vol. 2, The Way of Negation, Christian and Greek (Bonn, 1986), p. 246: “At times it appears as if Augustine’s pursuit of meaning in the pages of Scripture is somewhat like that of the modern literary critic [note Mortley is writing in the mid 1980s], who by multiplying a series of references and subjective connections, finds a meaning which is far removed from the text itself and any possible authorial intention.”
22. See Kirwan, Augustine, p. 131, for Augustine on original sin. Paul’s influence on Augustine was profound, so much so that one scholar has gone so far as to claim that “much of western Christian thought can be seen as one long response to Augustine’s Paul” (P. Fredriksen in the entry on Paul in Fitzgerald, ed., Augustine Through the Ages).
23. The old question of how a god who is conceptualized as omnipotent and omniscient can allow evil seems impossible to answer. The pagan philosopher Sextus Empiricus (probably end of the second century A.D.) put the issue well in his Outlines of Pyrrhonism, 3:12: “For in claiming that he [God] is provident in all things, they will be saying that he is the cause of evil, but if they claim that he is provident only about some things or nothing, they will be forced to say either that God lacks good will or is weak; yet obviously only people who are impious will say this.” Quoted in M. Frede, “Monotheism and Pagan Philosophy” in P. Athanassiadi and M. Frede, eds., Pagan Monotheism in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 1999), p. 56. In the mid second century, Marcion (the champion of Paul) attempted to solve the problem by arguing that there were two Gods, the powerful Creator God of the Old Testament, whose behaviour as related in the Old Testament was quite clearly wicked, and a good, all-knowing God who was the father of Christ. See Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1, pp. 71ff. An introduction to the problems can be found in any study of the philosophy of religion, for instance, that edited by B. Davies, Philosophy of Religion: A Guide and Anthology (Oxford, 2000). There is a short overview in the article “Evil, the Problem of” by Thomas P. Flint in Hastings, ed., The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought. I have always been unhappy with the argument that evil should be seen as the inevitable consequence of God’s gift to humanity of free will. Should one attempt to persuade those whose lives have been irretrievably ruined by the evil actions of others that this is because of the exercise of a free will given to the perpetrator of the evil by a God whom they should believe to be fully loving?
24. See Harrison, Augustine, p. 87, for the quotation from Augustine. The earlier history of Christian thinking on free will (as well as Augustine’s views) is covered by Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1, chap. 6, “Nature and Grace.”
25. Pelikan’s chapter on “Nature and Grace” is outstanding on Augustine’s views. The problem remained of why anyone should behave well if it was already predestined who should be saved and who condemned. At the same time, if God can grant or withhold grace at will, then the responsibility of “allowing” human beings to go to hell is his. Augustine argued in return that God created men whose damnation he could foresee as a means of manifesting his anger and demonstrating his power. The contradictions involved in sorting out predestination can be seen in the following quotation from Augustine cited by Pelikan (p. 297): “As the one who is supremely good, he made good use of evil deeds [sic!], for the damnation of those whom he had justly predestined to punishment and for the salvation of those whom he had kindly predestined to grace.” One hardly needs to go further to explain the profound sense of insecurity that Augustine and his followers brought into the Christian tradition.
26. Harrison’s quotation comes from her Augustine, p. 28. Kirwan, Augustine, lists the “original sin” texts on p. 131. They are also discussed by Pelikan in The Christian Tradition, vol. 1, pp. 299–300. Pelikan notes how Augustine was misled by a Latin mistranslation of Romans 5:12 in which “death spread to all men, through one man, in whom all men sinned,” whereas the Greek original reads, “Death spread to all men, through one man, because all men sinned.” See Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity, pp. 232–33, for Augustine’s views that the number of saved equalled the number of angels. In his City of God (22:24), Augustine leaves only the smallest scope for reasoned thought in “fallen man.” “There is still the spark, as it were, of that reason in virtue of which he was made in the image of God: that spark has not been fully put out” (trans. H. Bettenson).
27. Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1, p. 315, for the first of Pelagius’ quotations; Harrison, Augustine, p. 103, for the second. Gerald Bonner has useful essays on Augustine and Pelagianism in his Church and Faith in the Patristic Tradition (Aldershot, U.K., and Brookfield, Vt., 1996).
28. Quoted in Kirwan, Augustine, p. 134. Richard Sorabji in his Emotion and Peace of Mind: From Stoic Agitation to Christian Temptation (Oxford, 2000), concludes that Julian (and Pelagius) won the philosophical argument but that the political argument (which was what now mattered) was won by Augustine. Sorabji concludes his chapter “Augustine on Lust and the Will” as follows (p. 417):
To many, myself included, the Pelagian view that lust is a good thing, which may be put to bad use, is far more attractive than Augustine’s view that lust is a bad thing which may, in marriage, be put to a good use. If Pelagius had prevailed on this and more generally on original sin, a British theologian would have been at the centre of western theology, and western attitudes to sexuality, and to much else besides, might have been very different.
The question of how an “evil” thing (sexual incontinence as Augustine conceived it) can be made good simply through the circumstances in which it is undertaken is another example of Augustine tying himself up in knots (and defying his own mentor Paul, who had condemned the idea of doing evil that good may come of it, Romans 3:8). The contradictions here are dissected by J. Mahoney on “Augustinism and Sexual Morality” in his The Making of Moral Theology: A Study of the Roman Catholic Tradition (Oxford, 1987), pp. 58–68.
29. The quotations are taken from the article by H. Chadwick, “Orthodoxy and Heresy,” in A. Cameron and P. Garnsey, eds., The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. XIII (Cambridge, 1998), p. 583.
30. The conference of 411 is well covered by M. Tilley in “Dilatory Donatists or Procrastinating Catholics: The Trial at the Conference of Carthage,” in E. Ferguson, ed., Doctrinal Diversity: Varieties of Early Christianity (New York and London, 1999). Tilley argues that the Donatists assumed that this conference would be a proper chance to discuss theology, but in fact it turned out to be no more than “an imperial administrative process” through which to condemn them. The Donatists attempted to argue that the issue was one of the goodness of individuals and mocked Augustine’s view that good and bad individuals could co-exist within the same institution without defiling that institution.
31. The quotation from Augustine is from Kirwan, Augustine, p. 212, and that from Gregory from H. Drake, Constantine and the Bishops: The Politics of Intolerance (Baltimore and London, 2000), p. 407. See C. Kirwan, Augustine, pp. 212–18, for Augustine’s shifting views on persecution. See also Rist, Augustine, “Towards a Theory of Persecution,” pp. 239–45.
32. Rist, Augustine, p. 215. Like the Homoeans, the Donatists were casualities of the new principle that there should be only one state church based on one interpretation of Christianity. As rivals to the ownership of Christian “truth,” the Donatists were treated far more harshly than Jews or pagans.
33. The quotation, itself quoted from a review, comes from Stephen O’Shea’s The Perfect Heresy: Life and Death of the Cathars (London, 2000).
34. A point made by Harrison, Augustine, p. 197, who elaborates, on pp. 200–202, the sources for the idea of “the two cities.” The rigid dichotomy between polarized extremes, good and bad, saved and unsaved, not only draws, like so much of Augustine’s thought, on Paul but is typical of Augustine’s polemical rhetoric. As such, it has created a great deal of unnecessary anxiety among Christians (if one does not agree totally with what has been defined as orthodoxy, one is condemned), and it has hindered the exploration of unresolved theological issues.
35. The City of God 19:13, quoted ibid., p. 207.
36. J. S. McClelland, A History of Western Political Thought (London, 1996), p. 108.
37. The point is made in Michael Signer’s article “Jews and Judaism,” in Fitzgerald, ed., Augustine Through the Ages, pp. 470–73. See also Harrison’s sympathetic assessment in Augustine, pp. 142–44.
38. Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity, p. 235.
39. Rist, Augustine, pp. 291–92. Note St. Jerome’s comment in his Letter CVC: “You are renowned throughout the world. Catholics venerate you, and look upon you as a second founder of the old faith. And, surely what is a sign of greater glory [sic], all the heretics detest you.” Mahoney, “Augustinism and Sexual Morality,” p. 69, notes that Augustine’s use of polarized language “can lead to violent and extreme language and entrenched positions, in which words become weapons with which to crush an adversary rather than inadequate counters of that humble exploration of divine reality which should be characteristic of theological discourse.”
40. Quoted by M. Warner, Alone of All Her Sex (London, 1985), p. 57. As she notes, the idea “is an extension of Augustine’s argument about original sin.”
41. For this period, see chap. 5, “A Divided City: The Christian Church, 300–460,” especially the section “The Primacy of Peter,” in R. Collins, Early Medieval Europe, 300–1000, 2nd ed. (London, 1999). On Rome, R. Krautheimer’s Rome: Profile of a City, 312–1208 (Princeton, 2000), is an excellent starting point.
42. A good starting point for the tortuous career of Vigilius is his entry in J. Kelly, The Oxford Dictionary of the Popes (Oxford, 1986).
43. Herrin, The Formation of Christendom, pp. 125–27. Her chap. 3, “The Churches in the Sixth Century: The Council of 553,” is essential for more detailed study of this period.
44. Ibid., p. 182. On Gregory, Herrin has good points to make—see her chap. 4, “The Achievement of Gregory the Great.” For a fuller study, see R. Markus, Gregory the Great and His World (Cambridge, 1997), and for Gregory’s thought, C. Straw, Gregory the Great: Perfection in Imperfection (Berkeley and London, 1988). There is also a sensitive introduction to Gregory by M. Colish in her Medieval Foundations of the Western Intellectual Tradition (New Haven and London, 1997), pp. 37–41.
45. Quoted in MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism, p. 97. R. A. Markus considers Gregory’s approach to secular learning in Gregory the Great, pp. 34–40.
46. Herrin, The Formation of Christendom, p. 177. The longer extract from this reproach that Herrin gives has much to say about Gregory’s view of the ministry, in particular that the need for unity in the church requires that bishops should be prepared to cooperate and compromise with each other when necessary. The quotation on “compassion” and “contemplation” comes from Gregory’s RegulaPastoralis, his great work on the exercise of spiritual power.
47. Markus, Gregory the Great, p. 204.
48. Collins in Early Medieval Europe, p. 233. Chap. 13, “The Sundering of East and West,” provides a good overview of the process.
49. The story of Fursey is told by P. Brown in “Gloriosus Obitus: The End of the Ancient Other World,” in W. Klingshirn and M. Vessey, eds., The Limits of Ancient Christianity: Essays on Later Antique Thought and Culture in Honor of R. A. Markus (Ann Arbor, 1999), pp. 294–95. The problem of why Christianity laid such heavy stress on punishment in the afterlife is, of course, a major subject in itself and has only been partially addressed in this book. The words of Jesus in Matthew (25:31–46) have been fundamental, and Matthew 22:14, “Many are called but few are chosen,” was used “generation after generation as proof that only a minority ever reached heaven” with the majority consigned everlastingly to hell. See the article on “hell” by A. Hastings, ed., in The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought.
50. N. MacGregor, Seeing Salvation: Images of Christ in Art (London, 2000), p. 127. See also M. Merback, The Thief, the Cross and the Wheel: Pain and Punishment in Medieval and Renaissance Europe (London, 1999), although this book concentrates primarily on the crucifixion of the good and bad thieves. The chapter “Images of the Suffering Redeemer” in R. M. Jensen, Understanding Early Christian Art (London and New York, 2000), provides an excellent exploration of the issues involved.
51. See Peter Brown, The Rise of Western Christendom, 2nd ed. (Malden, Oxford, Melbourne, and Berlin, 2003), p. 119. This magnificent survey of western Christendom takes the story up to 1000.
1. Book 5, chap. 5. The extracts are from the Penguin edition, translated by D. Magarshack.
2. Tenth-century Ecomium of Gregory of Nazianzus, quoted in R. Lim, Public Disputation, Power and Social Order in Late Antiquity (Berkeley and London, 1995), p. 158. A survey of how these heresies interacted on the ground can be found in S. Mitchell, Anatolia: Land, Men and Gods in Asia Minor (Oxford, 1993), vol. 2, pp. 91–108. Mitchell’s survey shows that in fourth-century Phrygia and Lycaonia, orthodox Christianity was virtually unknown in an area that was, however, heavily Christian.
3. J. Pelikan, Christianity and Classical Culture (New Haven and London, 1993), is especially helpful here. See in particular chap. 3, “The Language of Negation.”
4. As reported by his fellow Cappadocian Gregory of Nyssa, above, p. 195.
5. Lim, Public Disputation, p. 168.
6. See ibid., pp. 158–71, for a full analysis of these orations.
7. R. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God (Edinburgh, 1988), p. 809. Edward Gibbon made the point that if one wanted to know just how vicious debates were in these councils, one turned not to opponents of Christianity but to “one of the most pious and eloquent bishops of the age, a saint and a doctor of the church,” Gregory of Nazianzus. A member of the Anglican commission on liturgy, the late Michael Vesey, is said to have compared preparing liturgical texts for the Anglican Synod with “trying to do embroidery with a bunch of football hooligans.” Quoted in a letter to the Independent newspaper (London), November 29, 2000.
8. Lim, Public Disputation, p. 171.
9. Ibid., pp. 171–81.
10. The first quotation is from Pseudo-Dionysius, The Celestial Hierarchy, quoted in A. Cameron, Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire (Berkeley and London, 1991), p. 219. Pseudo-Dionysius claimed that his works had been written by Dionysius the Areopagite, a convert of Paul’s. The claim was so successful that it was not until 1895 that his writings were recognized as coming from the fifth century. See Paul Rorem, “The Uplifting Spirituality of Pseudo-Dionysius,” in Bernard McGinn and John Meyendorff, eds., Christian Spirituality: Origins to the Twelfth Century (London, 1986); the quotation about “God being in no way like the things that have being” is taken from p. 135.
11. Quoted in Pelikan, Christianity and Classical Culture, p. 234.
12. Quoted in Lim, Public Disputation, p. 221.
13. I have taken these points from chap. 7, “The Orthodox Consensus,” in J. Pelikan’s The Christian Tradition, vol. 1 (Chicago and London, 1971). They remain recognizable in contemporary Roman Catholicism. Standard histories of Christian doctrine still tend to exclude mention of the historical context within which doctrine developed. This is one area of Christianity where the influence of Platonism remains strong. Correct doctrine is like the Platonic Forms, eternal, unchanging and available for an elite to grasp. This elite alone (the church hierarchies) has the right to interpret it for others. In such a context ideas cannot be relative to the society in which they are formed, and it is hardly surprising therefore that standard histories of Christian doctrine tend to ignore the wider historical context in which doctrine developed. Richard Hanson was one of the first theologians to declare, in The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God (Edinburgh, 1988), that it was the emperors who were the main force in establishing orthodoxy. Even then, his view, which was supported by a mass of historical evidence, was described in one review as “provocative.”
14. There is Protagoras’ famous saying from the fifth century B.C.: “About the gods I am not able to know whether they exist or do not exist, nor what they are like in form; for the factors preventing knowledge are many: the obscurity of the subject, and the shortness of human life.” There is no indication here that Protagoras believed no one should have a go at defining the nature of the gods, in fact there is a record that he wrote just such a work himself and recited it in the home of the playwright Euripides.
15. Quoted in Cameron, Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire, p. 15.
16. Ibid., p. 67. See also chap. 13, “Madness and Divinization: Symeon the Holy Fool,” in Guy Stroumsa, Barbarian Philosophy: The Religious Revolution of Early Christianity (Tubingen, 1999).
17. Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana 4:163 (translation: Green). A little earlier (section 161) Augustine suggests that God’s words are like a possession that can be stolen. The fact that such a possession is held by a thief does not diminish its value. The point remains that the link stressed by Isocrates and Quintilian between the moral character of the speaker and the words he spoke has been broken.
18. G. Kennedy, A New History of Classical Rhetoric (Princeton, 1994), pp. 269–70.
19. Lim, Public Disputation, p. 233 and elsewhere in his book.
20. Ibid., pp. 231–32. Earlier attacks on Aristotle are to be found, as in the works of Tertullian. Arius was even referred to at one point as “the new Aristotle” on the grounds that he employed dialectic, in other words examined issues critically, rather than relying on faith. See R. Vaggione, Eunomius of Cyzicus and the Nicene Revolution (Oxford, 2000), p. 95.
21. Lim, Public Disputation, pp. 174–75.
22. These quotations are taken from R. MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries (New Haven and London, 1997), pp. 86–89.
23. Cameron, Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire, p. 206.
24. MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism, p. 90.
25. Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap. 28.
26. Basil is quoted in Pelikan, Christianity and Classical Culture, p. 177. For the bishop of Melitene, see Henry Chadwick, The Church in Ancient Society (Oxford, 2001), p. 591.
27. “Bede and Medieval Civilization” and “Bede and His Legacy,” reprinted as items XI and XIV in Gerald Bonner, Church and Faith in Patristic Tradition (Aldershot, U.K., and Brookfield, Vt., 1996). As Bonner puts it, “Bede’s outlook is a narrow one, not merely in the sense that any specialist, theologian or otherwise is professionally narrow, but in the sense of deliberatly seeking to exclude a whole department of human experience—the non-Christian—from his considerations. . . . Bede did not seek to be original, but to stand in the tradition of the Fathers of the Church” (p. 10).
28. H. Belting, Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image Before the Era of Art, trans. E. Jephcott (Chicago and London, 1994). There is a wealth of material in this book on icons and the theological dimensions within which they were set. See also A. Cameron, “The Language of Images: The Rise of Icons and Christian Representation,” in D. Wood, ed., The Church and the Arts (Oxford, 1992), pp. 1–42. An atmospheric account of these changes is to be found in P. Brown, The World of Late Antiquity (London, 1971), chap. 14, “The Death of the Classical World: Culture and Religion in the Early Middle Ages.”
29. R. McInerny, Saint Thomas Aquinas (Boston, 1977), p. 18.
30. M. Hoskin and O. Gingerich, “Medieval Latin Astronomy,” chap. 4 in M. Hoskin, ed., The Cambridge Concise History of Astronomy (Cambridge, 1999).
31. See the essay by Louise Marshall, “Confraternity and Community,” in B. Wisch, ed., Confraternities and the Visual Arts in Renaissance Italy: Ritual, Spectacle, Image (Cambridge, 2000), above all the illustrations on pp. 22 and 23 (examples from Genoa and Siena). The examples are all the more remarkable in that when Apollo sends his plague on the Greeks at Troy (through arrows), it is the goddesses Hera and Athena who intervene to find a solution by which the plague is withdrawn.
32. Examples of shrines which maintain their continuity from pagan to Christian are taken from MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism, pp. 126–27, but most of the examples quoted here and in the following paragraph come from R. Porter, The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present (London, 1997), chap. 4, “Medicine and Faith,” and chap. 5, “The Medieval West.” Miracles were, of course, known in the pagan world as well. One can learn a great deal from studying the contexts in which miracles take place and the range of miracles, some harming God’s apparent enemies, others healing, others used as a means of effecting conversions. See W. Cotter, Miracles in Greco-Roman Antiquity: A Sourcebook (London, 1999).
33. The Life of Saint Francis of Assisi, trans. Ewart Cousins, 1:5–6, in Bonaventura, The Soul’s Journey unto God and Other Writings (Paulist Press, 1978), pp. 34–35.
34. The Euchologion, quoted by P. Horden and N. Purcell, The Corrupting Sea (Oxford, 2000), p. 411.
35. Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap. 28.
36. See Antonio Damasio, Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain (New York, 1994; London, 1995).
37. An excellent exploration of this aspect of Christianity is to be found in Averil Cameron, Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire (Berkeley and London, 1995), especially chap. 5, “The Rhetoric of Paradox.”
38. As Morris Kline, the historian of mathematics, puts it: “It is doubtful whether medieval Europe, if permitted to pursue an unchanging course, would ever have developed any real science or mathematics.” M. Kline, Mathematical Thought from Ancient to Modern Times, vol. 1 (Oxford and New York, 1972), p. 214. For Copernicus’ achievement within the context of medieval astronomy, see Hoskin and Gingerich, “Medieval Latin Astronomy.”
1. This example is drawn from Elizabeth Fowden’s study The Barbarian Plain (Berkeley and London, 1999). The quote from the Nestorian patriarch comes from an article, “Two Civilizations Entwined in History,” by William Dalrymple in the Independent (London), October 12, 2001. I was intrigued to read in Jan Morris’ Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere (London, 2001) that Sergius had, in legend, been converted to Christianity while serving as a soldier in Trieste, and that at the moment of his martyrdom on the Barbarian Plain his halberd fell miraculously from the sky into the main piazza of the city. It is still preserved and is the main feature of an annual procession on his feast day.
2. Quoted in R. MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries (New Haven and London, 1997), p. 19.
3. I have drawn material for this section from R. R. Bolgar, “The Greek Legacy,” in M. Finley, ed., The Legacy of Greece: A New Appraisal (Oxford, 1984), and chap. 4 of R. Porter’s The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present (London, 1997). For fuller coverage of Islamic philosophy, whose contribution to western thought is increasingly being recognized, see R. Popkin, ed., The Pimlico History of Western Philosophy (New York, 1998; London, 1999), sect. 2, “Medieval Islamic and Jewish Philosophy.” The works of Jewish philosophers such as Moses Maimonides were also an important influence on western philosophy.
4. Quoted in P. Brown, “Christianisation and Religious Conflict,” in A. Cameron and P. Garnsey, eds., The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. XIII (Cambridge, 1998), p. 639. Compare the statement made at the Council of Florence (1439–45): “No one who is outside the Catholic Church, not just pagans, but Jews, heretics, and schismatics, can share in eternal life.”
5. See R. Fletcher, The Conversion of Europe (London, 1997), for an overview. The consolidation of a rationale for church authority in both east and west is well covered by J. Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1 (Chicago and London, 1971), chap. 7, “The Orthodox Consensus.”
6. See R. Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind (London, 1996), part IV, “The Transformation of the Medieval Era,” and M. Colish, Medieval Foundations of the Western Intellectual Tradition (New Haven and London, 1997), especially chap. 20, “Scholasticism and the Rise of Universities.”
7. This view is argued with impressive power by Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind, “The Quest of Thomas Aquinas,” pp. 179–90.
8. For Thomas Aquinas, a good short introduction is A. Kenny, Aquinas (Oxford, 1980). For more extended treatment, see R. McInerny, Saint Thomas Aquinas (Boston, 1977), and B. Davies, The Thought of Thomas Aquinas (Oxford, 1992). While one can applaud Thomas Aquinas for his courage and independence in bringing back rational thought into the Christian tradition, he remained a man of his time in many of his attitudes, especially to women, whom he would consciously avoid, and sexuality in general.
9. McInerny provides a typical statement of Aquinas’ defence of free will, in which free will is seen as intrinsic to man’s status as a rational being. The extract also gives an idea of Aquinas’ method of exposition.
For the sheep seeing the wolf judges that she should flee by a natural judgment which is not free since it does not involve pondering but she judges by natural instinct. So it is with every judgment of the brute animal. Now man acts by means of judgment, because through a knowing power he judges that something should be pursued or avoided, yet this instinct is not by a natural instinct toward a particular action but from a rational pondering. Thus he acts by free judgment since he is capable of directing himself in diverse ways . . . For this reason, that man acts from free judgement follows necessarily from the fact that he is rational.
McInerny, Saint Thomas Aquinas, p. 54. One less happy result of the argument presented above was that Aquinas followed Augustine in seeing animals as non-rational beings who were thus entirely at the service of man. He also followed Aristotle in believing that women are “by nature subordinate to man, because the power of rational discernment is by nature stronger in man.”
There has been a tendency in Catholic theology to smooth over the difference between the major theologians. However, surely the contrast between Aquinas and Augustine is profound. Aquinas could never have written as Augustine did: “To approve falsehood instead of truth so as to err in spite of himself, and not to be able to refrain from the works of lust because of the pain involved in breaking away from fleshly bonds: these do not belong to the nature of man as he was created [before the Fall]. They are the penalty of man as [now] condemned [by original sin].” From On Free Will 3:18:52, quoted in C. Harrison, Augustine, Christian Truth and Fractured Humanity (Oxford, 2000), p. 86. Compare too the words of Athanasius, “We are not permitted to ask presumptuous questions about the begetting of the Son of God nor to make our nature and our limitations the measure of God and his wisdom” (my emphasis). This is the exact opposite of Aquinas’ “To take something away from the perfection of the creature is to abstract from the perfection of the creative power [i.e. God] itself.”
10. Aquinas left himself, of course, with the problem of defining what happened to the soul after death. He had to admit that it was no longer the person who had lived, but what was it? “A disembodied soul does not feel joy and sadness due to bodily desire, but due to intellectual desire, as with the angels.” For these issues, see the excellent chapter “Being Human” in Davies, The Thought of Thomas Aquinas.
11. R. Markus, “Aquinas and Aristotle,” Blackfriars, March 1961. Compare Pelikan’s view that Aquinas’ treatise On the Soul was “determined more by philosophical than by biblical language about the soul” (Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1, p. 89). It perhaps needs to be stressed how fascinated by science Aquinas was. He did, after all, write commentaries on Aristotle’s physics, cosmology and meteorology, and he is known to have secured a copy of Heron of Alexandria’s work on the mechanics of steam engines before anyone else at the University of Paris.
12. Quoted in Davies, The Thought of Thomas Aquinas, p. 246.
13. See J. Mahoney, The Making of Moral Theology: A Study of the Roman Catholic Tradition (Oxford, 1987), chap. 7, “The Impact of Humanae Vitae.” For the relationship between Aristotle, Plato and Aquinas in the formulation of the concept of natural law, see J. Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights (Oxford, 1980), chap. 13, “Nature, Reason, God.” Finnis sees Plato’s late work The Laws as one of the foundation texts of the concept. Aquinas asserts that natural law cannot conflict with the teachings of the scriptures, but this gives rise to further conceptual problems (for example, is each one of the Ten Commandments to be regarded an expression of natural law?). In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (London, 1994), the sections on “Natural Moral Law,” numbers 1954–60, are supported, rather surprisingly, by a quotation from Cicero but otherwise by none other earlier than Augustine.
14. An excellent survey of Aquinas’ political views can be found in J. S. McClelland, A History of Western Political Thought (London and New York, 1996), chap. 7, “Christendom and Its Law.” McClelland not only compares and contrasts Aquinas with Augustine but discusses the implications of natural law for medieval political thought. The philosopher Alisdair MacIntyre claims that Aristotelianism as developed by Thomas Aquinas represents the high point of western thought on ethical issues.
15. The tendency was to use Aristotle as an authority figure in support of Christian theology rather than as a means of invigorating it. Aristotle’s view (supported by Greek thinkers in general) that the male provides the essential element of life at conception, with the woman providing a stable fluid in which it can grow, fitted well with traditional ideas of the virgin birth, and may actually have influenced the development of these views; see M. Warner, Alone of All Her Sex (London, 1985), chap. 3, “Virgin Birth.” If the modern scientific view that Mary’s genetic contribution to Jesus would be equal to God’s is taken at face value, the theological problems are daunting. Aristotle’s ideas were also used to support the doctrine of transubstantiation (the doctrine that the bread and wine are changed totally into the body and blood of Christ at the moment of consecration). By the seventeenth century the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes was to write that in the universities philosophy “hath no other place than as the handmaiden to the Roman religion; and since the authority of Aristotle is only current there, that study is not properly philosophy but Aristotelity.” Louis XIV was to make the astonishing assertion that “notre religion et Aristote sont tellement liez qu’on ne puisse renverser l’un sans ébranler l’autre”—“our religion and Aristotle are so closely linked that one cannot overthrow one without undermining the other” (quoted in J. Israel, Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650–1750 [Oxford and New York, 2001]; this brilliant book shows just how tightly a sterile Aristotelianism dominated conservative thinking in the seventeenth century).
As already stressed in this book, the essence of Greek intellectual life lay in its stress on the provisional nature of knowledge and the acceptance that all “authorities” were there to be challenged, and one can assume that Aristotle would not have approved of the “fixed” status given to his works by theologians, any more than Ptolemy or Galen would have approved of the way that their work was frozen. It was not until the twentieth century that Aristotle’s extraordinary intellectual achievement was once again fully recognized.
1. See Jonathan Barnes, “Galen, Christians, Logic,” in T. P. Wiseman, ed., Classics in Progress (Oxford, 2002), for fuller discussion.
2. On the relationship between reason and emotion in the healthy mind, see Antonio Damasio, Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain (New York, 1994; London, 1995). On free will and optimism, see the works of Raymond Tallis, especially Enemies of Hope: A Critique of Contemporary Pessimism (London, 1997).