Conversion in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages

September 2003
6 line illustrations
296 pages
9x6 in
Studies in Comparative History
ISBN: 9781580461252
Format: Hardback
University of Rochester Press
BISAC REL033000, SOC039000, HIS037010

Conversion in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages

Seeing and Believing

Edited by Kenneth Mills, Anthony Grafton

A re-examination of the social processes behind religious conversions in the Ancient and Early Middle Ages.
This volume explores religious conversion in late antique and early medieval Europe at a time when the utility of the concept is vigorously debated. Though conversion was commonly represented by ancient and early medieval writers as singular and personally momentous mental events, contributors to this volume find gradual and incomplete social processes lurking behind their words. A mixture of examples and approaches will both encourage a deepening of specialist knowledge and spark new thinking across a variety of sub-fields. The historical settings treated here stretch from the Roman Hellenism of Justin Martyr in the second century to the ninth-century programs of religious and moral correction by resourceful Carolingian reformers. Baptismal orations, funerary inscriptions, Christian narratives about the conversion of stage-performers, a bronze statue of Constantine, early Byzantine ethnographic writings, and re-located relics are among the book's imaginative points of entry. This focused collection of essays by leading scholars, and the afterword by Neil McLynn, should ignite conversations among students of religious conversion and related processes of cultural interaction, diffusion, and change both in the historical sub-fields of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages and well beyond.
This book is one of two collections of essays on religious conversion drawn from the activities of the Shelby Cullum Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University between 1999 and 2001. The other volume, Conversion: Old Worlds and New, is also published by the University of Rochester Press.

Contributors: Susan Elm, Anthony Grafton, Richard Lim, Rebecca Lyman, Michael Maas, Neil McLynn, Kenneth Mills, Eric Rebillard, Julia M. H. Smith, Raymond Van Dam.

Table of Contents

Inscriptions and Conversions: Gregory of Nazianzus on Baptism - Susanna Elm
The Politics of Passing: Justin Martyr's Conversion as a Problem of "Hellenization" - Rebecca Lyman
Conversion and Burial in the Late Roman Empire - Eric Rebillard
Converting the Un-Christianizable: The Baptism of Stage Performers in Late Antiquity - Richard Lim
The Many Conversions of the Emperor Constantine - Raymond Van Dam
"Delivered from Their Ancient Customs": Christianity and the Question of Cultural Change in Early Byzantine Ethnography - Michael Maas
"Emending Evil Ways and Praising God's Omnipotence": Einhard and the Uses of Roman Martyrs - Julia M. H. Smith
Seeing and Believing: Aspects of Conversion from Antoninus Pius to Louis the Pious - Neil McLynn


Offer[s] key insights into the study of religious conversion across various "subfields of history". . . impressive contributions to the reassessment of the role of religion in history. COMITATUS

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