A Threat To Public Piety: Christians, Platonists, And The Great Persecution by Elizabeth DePalma DigeserA Threat To Public Piety: Christians, Platonists, And The Great Persecution by Elizabeth DePalma Digeser

A Threat To Public Piety: Christians, Platonists, And The Great Persecution

byElizabeth DePalma Digeser

Hardcover | April 17, 2012

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In A Threat to Public Piety, Elizabeth DePalma Digeser reexamines the origins of the Great Persecution (AD 303–313), the last eruption of pagan violence against Christians before Constantine enforced the toleration of Christianity within the Empire. Challenging the widely accepted view that the persecution enacted by Emperor Diocletian was largely inevitable, she points out that in the forty years leading up to the Great Persecution Christians lived largely in peace with their fellow Roman citizens. Why, Digeser asks, did pagans and Christians, who had intermingled cordially and productively for decades, become so sharply divided by the turn of the century?

Making use of evidence that has only recently been dated to this period, Digeser shows that a falling out between Neo-Platonist philosophers, specifically Iamblichus and Porphyry, lit the spark that fueled the Great Persecution. In the aftermath of this falling out, a group of influential pagan priests and philosophers began writing and speaking against Christians, urging them to forsake Jesus-worship and to rejoin traditional cults while Porphyry used his access to Diocletian to advocate persecution of Christians on the grounds that they were a source of impurity and impiety within the empire.

The first book to explore in depth the intellectual social milieu of the late third century, A Threat to Public Piety revises our understanding of the period by revealing the extent to which Platonist philosophers (Ammonius, Plotinus, Porphyry, and Iamblichus) and Christian theologians (Origen, Eusebius) came from a common educational tradition, often studying and teaching side by side in heterogeneous groups.
 

Elizabeth DePalma Digeser is Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of The Making of a Christian Empire: Lactantius and Rome and A Threat to Public Piety: Christians, Platonists, and the Great Persecution.
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Title:A Threat To Public Piety: Christians, Platonists, And The Great PersecutionFormat:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.39 inPublished:April 17, 2012Publisher:CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801441811

ISBN - 13:9780801441813

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Table of Contents

Introduction: From Permeable Circles to Hardened Boundaries
1. Ammonius Saccas and the Philosophy without Conflicts
2. Origen as a Student of Ammonius
3. Plotinus, Porphyry, and Philosophy in the Public Realm
4. Schism in the Ammonian Community: Porphyry v. Iamblichus
5. Schism in the Ammonian Community: Porphyry v. Methodius of Olympus
Conclusion: The Ammonian Community and the Great Persecution

Editorial Reviews

"A Threat to Public Piety is a well-conceived, well-written, significant, and original contribution to the field of late Roman studies that will attract those interested in religion, philosophy, the rise of Christianity, and the relation between religion and power in the later Roman Empire. Elizabeth DePalma Digeser shows that philosophers in the later Roman Empire were not marginal, idiosyncratic figures but formed part of the imperial court and exercised influence as imperial advisers."—Susanna K. Elm, University of California Berkeley, author of Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church: Emperor Julian, Gregory of Nazianzus and the Vision of Rome