Research on antiquity
Religious Dissent in the late Roman Empire in 370–450: Alienation, Accommodation, and Adaptation (2019)
The century from c. 350 to c. 450 CE stretches approximately from Constantius II’s reign until the end of Theodosius II’s and covers the most crucial years of Christianization of the Roman Empire. This period witnessed a significant shift from a world of polytheistic religions to one dominated by Christian worship.
However, this shift should not be understood teleologically. In the fourth century, a wide variety of religions, cults, sects, beliefs, and practices co-existed and evolved in the Mediterranean world. This co-existence of different religious groups sometimes led to violence, but these outbreaks seem to have been relatively infrequent and localized. This book explores the impact these changes had on the position and life of different religious groups.
The groups under consideration are pagans and heretics, which are terms of convenience: “pagans” for non-Christians or polytheists, and “heretics” for Christians marked as deviants. Rather than presenting another narrative of Christian-pagan relations, the book provides a detailed analysis of several central themes—limits of legislation, the end of sacrifices, the label of magic, and the categorization of dissidents into groups—tracing key elements and developments in the treatment of dissident religious believers.
By shedding new light on the relations of various religious groups in the fourth and fifth centuries, Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450 will be valuable to all scholars of the later Roman Empire and early Christianity.
Recognition and Religion. Contemporary and Historical Perspectives (2019)
This book focuses on recognition and its relation to religion and theology, in both systematic and historical dimensions. While existing research literature on recognition and contemporary recognition theory has been gradually growing since the early 1990s, certain gaps remain in the field covered so far. One of these is the multifaceted interaction between the phenomena of recognition and religion.
Since recognition applies to persons, institutions, and normative entities like systems of beliefs, it also provides a very useful analytic and interpretative tool for studying religion. Divided into five sections, with chapters written by established scholars in their respective fields, the book explores the roots, history, and limits of recognition theory in the context of religious belief. Exploring early Christian and medieval sources on recognition and religion, it also offers contemporary applications of this underexplored combination.
This is a timely book, as debates over religious identities, problematic forms of extremism and societal issues related with multiculturalism continue to dominate the media and politics. It will, therefore, be of great interest to scholars of recognition studies as well as religious studies, theology, philosophy, and religious and intellectual history.
Emperors and the Divine – Rome and its Influence (2016)
Emperors and the Divine – Rome and its Influence, ed. M. Kahlos, COLLeGIUM, Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences 20, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies: Helsinki, 2016.
The articles of the present volume Emperors and the Divine analyse the various means by which imperial power was justified. Emperors supported cults of various deities, representing themselves as the guardians of the cosmic order, whether the fragile peace maintained between the human and divine spheres was a pax deorum or pax dei. They aimed to sustain and increase their authority as representatives of the divine, either as the companions and protégés of important gods or as (more or less) divine beings themselves.
In this book, we will learn about the various ways in which the gods, including the Christian deity, were used for political purposes. Moreover, it will be asked how Roman emperors were made divine. Were they really regarded as gods?
We will analyse how conceptions of the emperor as a representative of the divine sphere evolved from the Early Imperial Period to Late Antiquity, proceeding from Augustus to Constantine and the Christian emperors, and even to the rulers of the New Kingdoms. How did the titulature develop and what do these changes tell us about the encounter of religion and politics (if we abide by the use of these modern terms)? Furthermore, we will investigate how different individuals and groups, especially Christian groups, coped with this issue of emperors and the divine.
Spaces in Late Antiquity – Cultural, Theological and Archaeological Perspectives (2016)
Spaces in Late Antiquity – Cultural, Theological and Archaeological Perspectives, eds. J. Day, R. Hakola, M. Kahlos & U. Tervahauta, Routledge: London, 2016.
Places and spaces are key factors in how individuals and groups construct their identities. Identity theories have emphasised that the construction of an identity does not follow abstract and universal processes but is also deeply rooted in specific historical, cultural, social and material environments. The essays in this volume explore how various groups in Late Antiquity rooted their identity in special places that were imbued with meanings derived from history and tradition.
In Part I, essays explore the tension between the Classical heritage in public, especially urban spaces, in the form of ancient artwork and civic celebrations and the Church’s appropriation of that space through doctrinal disputes and rival public performances.
Parts II and III investigate how particular locations expressed, and formed, the theological and social identities of Christian and Jewish groups by bringing together fresh insights from the archaeological and textual evidence.
Together the essays here demonstrate how the use and interpretation of shared spaces contributed to the self-identity of specific groups in Late Antiquity and in so doing issued challenges, and caused conflict, with other social and religious groups.
The Faces of the other. Religious Rivalry and Ethnic Encounters in the later Roman world (2012)
The Faces of the other. Religious Rivalry and Ethnic Encounters in the later Roman world, ed. M. Kahlos, Cursor mundi 10, Brepols: Turnhout, 2012.
The foundations of European civilization as we know it today were laid in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. The Faces of the Other: Religious Rivalry and Ethnic Encounters in the Later Roman World traces the roots of the attitudes and argumentation about religious or ethnic otherness in modern western culture. It aims at deepening the historical understanding of attitudes towards otherness as well as cultural and religious conflicts in world history.
The Faces of the Other discusses the conceptions, depictions, and attitudes towards the other in Graeco-Roman antiquity. The book focuses on the perception of otherness, whether other peoples or religions, in the Later Roman Empire as understood broadly, from the first until the fifth century CE. These others are ethnic others such as the Persians, Huns, and the Germanic peoples were to Romans, or religious others such as Jews were to Christians or Christians to Jews, Christians to pagans or pagans to Christians, or different cults to the ‘mainstream’ Romans, or different Christian sects to each other.
Forbearance and Compulsion: Rhetoric of Tolerance and Intolerance in Late Antiquity (2009)
Most surveys of religious tolerance and intolerance start from the medieval and early modern period, either passing over or making brief mention of discussions of religious moderation and coercion in Greco-Roman antiquity. Here Maijastina Kahlos widens the historical perspective to encompass late antiquity, examining ancient discussions of religious moderation and coercion in their historical contexts.
The relations and interactions between various religious groups, especially pagans and Christians, are scrutinized, and the stark contrast often drawn between a tolerant polytheism and an intolerant Christianity is replaced by a more refined portrait of the complex late antique world.
Debate and Dialogue: Christian and Pagan Cultures (2007)
This book explores the construction of Christian identity in fourth and fifth centuries through inventing, fabricating and sharpening binary oppositions. Such oppositions, for example Christians – pagans; truth – falsehood; the one true god – the multitude of demons; the right religion – superstition, served to create and reinforce the Christian self-identity.
The author examines how the Christian argumentation against pagans was intertwined with self-perception and self-affirmation. Discussing the relations and interaction between pagan and Christian cultures, this book aims at widening historical understanding of the cultural conflicts and the otherness in world history, thus contributing to the ongoing discussion about the historical and conceptual basis of cultural tolerance and intolerance.
This book offers a valuable contribution to contemporary scholarly debate about Late Antique religious history and the relationship between Christianity and other religions.
Vettius Agorius Praetextatus: Senatorial Life in Between (2002)
Vettius Agorius Praetextatus (d. 384) was an erudite Roman senator who lived in the fourth century in the crucial period of external and internal changes and contradictions in the Graeco-Roman world, before the ‘final triumph’ of Christianity. He was never converted to Christianity though the Christianization of the Roman aristocracy was already in process during his lifetime, and until the end of the century, in the years after his death, the Roman aristocracy became, at least nominally, Christian.
This book illuminates the political, cultural and religious atmosphere of the fourth century through the personality of Praetextatus and to survey the coexistence of pagans and Christians in Rome during the period of the transformation through his life.