Education and Religion in Late Antique Christianity : Reflections, social contexts and genres book cover
1st Edition

Education and Religion in Late Antique Christianity
Reflections, social contexts and genres

ISBN 9781472434760
Published April 8, 2016 by Routledge
228 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book studies the complex attitude of late ancient Christians towards classical education. In recent years, the different theoretical positions that can be found among the Church Fathers have received particular attention: their statements ranged from enthusiastic assimilation to outright rejection, the latter sometimes masking implicit adoption. Shifting attention away from such explicit statements, this volume focuses on a series of lesser-known texts in order to study the impact of specific literary and social contexts on late ancient educational views and practices. By moving attention from statements to strategies this volume wishes to enrich our understanding of the creative engagement with classical ideals of education. The multi-faceted approach adopted here illuminates the close connection between specific educational purposes on the one hand, and the possibilities and limitations offered by specific genres and contexts on the other. Instead of seeing attitudes towards education in late antique texts as applications of theoretical positions, it reads them as complex negotiations between authorial intent, the limitations of genre, and the context of performance.

Table of Contents

Part I Monastic Education: Early monasticism and the rhetorical tradition: sayings and stories as school texts, Larsen / The education of Shenoute and other Cenobitic leaders: inside and outside of the monastery, Timbie / Teaching the new classics: Bible and biography in a Pachomian monastery, Watts / Part II Gnomic Knowledge: An education through gnomic wisdom: the Pandect of Antiochus as Bibliotheksersatz, Papadogiannakis / Syriac translations of Plutarch, Lucian, and Themistius: a gnomic format for an instructional purpose?, Rigolio / Athens and/or Jerusalem? Basil’s and Chrysostom’s views on the didactic use of literature and stories, Stenger / Part III Protreptic: Christian hagiography and the rhetorical tradition: Victricius of Rouen, In Praise of the Saints, Gemeinhardt / Falsification as a protreptic to truth: the force of the forged epistolary exchange between Basil and Libanius, Van Hoof / Scripture and liturgy in the Life of Mary of Egypt, Krueger / Part IV Secular and Religious Learning: How shall we plead? The Conference of Carthage (411) on styles of argument, Van Nuffelen / Victor of Vita and secular education, Vössing / Education in the Syriac world of Late Antiquity, King / Index.

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Peter Gemeinhardt is Professor of Church History at Göttingen University, Germany. He is director of the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Centre ‘Education and Religion in Cultures of the Mediterranean and Its Environment from Ancient to Medieval Times and to the Classical Islam’ at the University of Göttingen. Recent publications include: Antonius: Der erste Mönch and Die Kirche und ihre Heiligen. Studien zu Ekklesiologie und Hagiographie in der Spätantike.

Lieve Van Hoof is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Ghent University, Belgium. Trained as a classicist, historian and political scientist, she studies the interplay between literature and politics, culture and power. She is the author of Plutarch's Practical Ethics: The Social Dynamics of Philosophy, and editor of Libanius: A Critical Introduction.

Peter Van Nuffelen is Professor of Ancient History at Ghent University, Belgium. His main research interests are the religious history of the ancient world and Late Antiquity. He has recently published Orosius and the Rhetoric of History. Another book, entitled Penser la tolérance durant l’Antiquité tardive, will appear shortly.


"Taking into account geographical and linguistic disparities, as well as social, political and cultural upheavals, these twelve contributions provide a nuanced overview of the relationship Christians have with classical education in late antiquity. The major contribution of the book lies in the attention paid to many little-known and under-exploited literary sources. The treatment reserved for them contributes to improving not only the knowledge of late antiquity and the richness of its literary production, but also the understanding of these texts, which sometimes do not yet benefit from a modern critical edition. The work, far from ending the subject, will undoubtedly demonstrate the complexity of the study of Christian attitudes towards paideia in the field of education in late antiquity and will certainly lead to further research on the question."

- Nathan Carlig, Università di Roma, Italy, in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review