The Melitian schism originated in the context of the Diocletianic persecution. In 306, under dramatic circumstances, Melitius of Lycopolis decided to challenge his superior, the bishop of Alexandria. An attempt at reconciliation proposed by the Council of Nicaea (325) was unsuccessful, and the Melitians, as they were now called, often associated with the Arians, would become favourite targets of a bitter and polemical Athanasius of Alexandria (328-373). The schism continued to exist in Egypt until the middle of the eighth century. Notwithstanding the rich source material, including original documents and papyri, the dissidence has received relatively little scholarly attention. This collection of essays by Hans Hauben focuses on the well-documented earliest phase of the schism, from the persecution to the Synod of Tyre (335). It elucidates the chronology of the schism, the decisions of Nicaea, the internal organisation of the parallel church, and the tensions in Alexandria caused by its repression, as well as interpretative problems posed by the sources. The essays constitute an in-depth assessment of the causes, development and meaning of the Melitian schism, and together with additional, related studies also included in the volume they paint a rich picture of early Christian society.
'Taken together, the articles in this volume offer both a treasure trove and a springboard for further research, and provide fitting testimony to Hans Hauben’s invaluable contribution to Melitian and Athanasian studies.' Journal of Theological Studies 'The initiative for this collection is attributed to Hauben's former student, Peter Van Nuffelen, to whom thanks are due not only for supporting this very useful volume, but also for the volume's introduction. His introduction provides a very useful historical overview of the schism, an account of the sources for it, and an appraisal of the status quaestionis. A fulsome bibliography is appended... The treatments collected in this volume are essential reading for all those who deal with the Melitian schism, and late antique Egyptian Christianity in general, and their assembly into this one convenient and highly useful volume is most welcome.' The Bryn Mawr Classical Review