Next week I will take part in the huge international conference on History of Religion in Erfurt – with some 1300 other participants … The conference is organised by IAHR (International Association for the History of Religions). This means that the variety of research papers range from Antiquity to modernity. Antiquity is well presented, there will be many panels on Greco-Roman and Christian stuff going on at the same time.
I will give my paper in the panel ”Defining religious minorities in a pre-global world (Antiquity and Late Antiquity)” which has been convened by Alessandro Saggioro (Sapienza Università di Roma) and Mar Marcos (Universidad de Cantabria):
Santiago Montero Herrero, Diego M. Escámez de Vera, Universidad Complutense, Madrid (Spain)
Minorities and divination practices in the Roman Empire
Luca Arcari, Università di Napoli Federico II (Italy)
’Minority’ as a practice of self-definition in Second Temple Judaism (Dead Sea Scrolls, 1 Enoch)
Mar Marcos, Universidad de Cantabria (Spain)
When Christians claimed for Religious Freedom: the Rhetoric of the “New Race”
Emiliano Rubens Urciuoli, Università di Torino Silent majorities claiming “minority rights”. Weakness and strength of small numbers in Tertullian’s rhetorical strategy
Maijastina Kahlos, University of Helsinki (Finland)
Minority Report – ‘Minorities’ and ‘majorities’ in argumentation in the Late Antique inter-religious and intra-religious disputes
Alessandro Saggioro – Sapienza Università di Roma (Italy)
Sine suffragio. Exclusion of religious minorities in the Theodosian code
Gian Franco Chiai, Freie Universität Berlin (Germany)
Christiani adversos Christianos in late antique Asia Minor
- The abstract of my paper Minority Report – ‘Minorities’ and ‘majorities’ in argumentation in the Late Antique inter-religious and intra-religious disputes:
In course of the fourth century, Christianity was gradually shifted from a minority position to the majority one or at least to the strong minority in the Roman Empire. Greco-Roman religions (called ‘paganism’ by Christian writers) were gradually shifted to the minority position or the weakened majority. It is impossible to define the proportions of religious groups in the Roman Empire; at best we can speak of guesstimates. The same applies to the proportions and power relations between the Nicene and other Christian groups (e.g., Homoians or ‘Arians’ as they were called by the Nicene Christians). In certain areas and at specific times, the Homoians held the upper hand while the Nicene Christians were at risk of being marginalized. Nevertheless, for the most part of the fourth century, the Nicene Christians were setting the boundaries for the normative orthodoxy.
This paper will discuss the argument of the majority position in the inter- and intra-religious disputes in the fourth and fifth centuries. Jerome of Stridon, for instance, rejoices the expansion of Christianity in the city of Rome. Augustine of Hippo derides ‘pagans’ who according to him were a small minority living in fear and shame. Isidore of Pelusium and Theodoret of Cyrrhus declared that ‘paganism’ no longer existed. Furthermore, the triumph of Christianity over paganism was exulted in the imperial legislation. I will not take any stand on which religious group or sect was in majority or minority in the Empire at a particular moment. Instead, I will study, for instance, for what purposes was the majority position argued for and what kinds of arguments and rhetorical techniques were used. What was the background of these claims and who were the audience?