The Use and Dissemination of Religious Knowledge in Antiquity - Catherine Hezser

The Use and Dissemination of Religious Knowledge in Antiquity - Catherine Hezser

10. Religious Knowledge and Models of Authority in Sixth-Century Gaza

The Use and Dissemination of Religious Knowledge in Antiquity - Catherine Hezser

Jan Stenger [+-]
Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Jan R. Stenger is Professor of Classics at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Germany. From 2012 to 2019 he was Douglas MacDowell Professor of Greek at the University of Glasgow. He held fellowships at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (2015/16) and the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in Uppsala (2017/18). His research focuses on Greek lyric poetry and the literature and culture of late antiquity. He is especially interested in the relationship between Christianity and classical culture from the fourth to sixth centuries ce. Stenger’s publications include monographs on identity construction in late antiquity (Hellenische Identität in der Spätantike [de Gruyter, 2009]) and the Church Father John Chrysostom (Johannes Chrysostomos und die Christianisierung der Polis [Mohr Siebeck, 2019]). He is currently finalizing a book on education in the late Roman Empire (for Oxford University Press).

Description

Religious instruction in the polis of Gaza and its surroundings is very well documented for the first half of the sixth century. We possess a large number of texts which disseminate to a mixed audience of laypeople knowledge about the Bible and Christian doctrine and discuss questions of pious conduct. Intriguingly, religious instruction was given by figures of different status and in widely different settings, but in all likelihood addressed the same audiences. In the vicinity of Gaza, two recluses were regularly approached by townspeople on matters of everyday life, but also on doctrinal controversies; the answers were given only in written form. Within the polis, secular teachers, the sophists of the local school, occasionally touched upon religious topics in front of gatherings of the civic community. This chapter first analyses these different settings of dissemination of religious knowledge, the types of knowledge, the participants and the types of discourse. It then differentiates between two models of authority and relates them to the teaching settings. The analysis demonstrates that the dissemination of religious knowledge was embedded in the traditional polis culture, rather than being treated as a separate domain, and that religious instruction was not confined to religious functionaries and specialists.

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Citation

Stenger, Jan. 10. Religious Knowledge and Models of Authority in Sixth-Century Gaza. The Use and Dissemination of Religious Knowledge in Antiquity. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 234-262 Aug 2021. ISBN 9781781798768. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=38002. Date accessed: 22 Oct 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.38002. Aug 2021

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