Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies organizes a conference on late antique, medieval and later chronicles. The symposium Past and Present in Medieval Chronicles will start tomorrow and continue until Friday.
I will give paper on the late antique historiography, with the title ”Seizing the History – Christianizing the Past in Late Antique Chronicles and Church Histories”.
The title and abstract seem to promise all sorts of things but the reality of 30 minutes will set some bounds.
The abstract:
”Seizing the History – Christianizing the Past in Late Antique Chronicles and Church Histories”
Late Antiquity (the third to sixth centuries) was the era of the development of the great Christian narrative, an interpretatio Christiana of the history of humankind. This meant redating and relocating of past histories, ideas and persons in the historical mental map. In this construction of the past, Christian writers built on the models of the preceding tradition, the universal histories developed during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, but creating competing chronologies and alternative histories.
In this paper I will analyse the world view and concept of history conveyed by a few Christian ecclesiastical writers. The focus is on fourth- and fifth-century histories, chronicles and church histories, such as Eusebius of Caesarea and his continuators Rufinus (Church history) and Jerome (Chronicle) as well as Orosius, Socrates Scholasticus, Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Hydatius and Prosper.
I will discuss the ways in which these writers create the Christian past. One of the ways is construing providential nature of history. For example, for Orosius the implanting of Christianity onto the Roman Empire was part of the divine plan for humankind. I will also observe some aspects of Christian triumphalism in late antique historiography, the concept of inevitability of Christian success. The concept of the divine providence is also connected to the ideas of the divine favour and anger. I will also examine which role the logic divine retribution has in the world views of these writers.

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