Author: Azar, Michael G
Date published: June 1, 2012
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The varied reactions, both ancient and modern, to Constantine's rise testify to the complexity of the era that arrived with him--an era that was both a faithful inheritor of imperial precedents and something entirely new.
Offering a broad and diverse collection of essays, this volume examines specific instances of the interaction between "rhetoric, politics, and religion" (4)--the problems of such categorizations notwithstanding--in the Roman Empire and surrounding societies. The essays are historical investigations, reading religious texts in the context of Roman rhetorical tradition, while attempting to bear in mind the "ways in which even modern rhetoric can shape our perception of the relationship between religion and the state" (4).
The authors (explicitly classicists rather than church historians) provide unique analyses of usual suspects such as Origen, Ambrose, Pope Leo, and Justinian, highlighting the fluidity between matters of Christians, pagans, and State, but also thoughtfully consider, among others, Muslim adaptations of their imperial and religious predecessors, the rhetoric of Irish monasticism, and Jewish textual criticism. Bibliographies, thankfully, are provided at the end of each essay.
The contributors are all colleagues or former students of H. A. Drake, to whom this collection is dedicated. Drake's own influence is evident in every essay, as each author seeks to continue the "innovative and nuanced reading of the religious rhetoric of the fourth century" (4) for which the editors praise him.