By Ramsay MacMullen
MacMullen explores the affects of paganism and Christianity upon one another. In a wealthy dialogue of different strengths of the 2 platforms, he demonstrates that pagan ideals weren't eclipsed or displaced by means of Christianity yet persevered or have been reworked. The victory of the Christian church, he explains, was once one no longer of obliteration yet of widening include and assimilation. This interesting booklet additionally comprises new fabric at the Christian persecution of pagans over the centuries via tools that ranged from fines to crucifixion; the aggregate of reasons in conversion; the stubbornness of pagan resistance; the trouble of gratifying the calls for and expectancies of latest converts; and the measure of assimilation of Christianity to paganism.
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Additional resources for Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries
If any of the governors, through the sin of connivance and the trickery of dissimulation, should fail to execute the present law, he shall know that he will forfeit his official rank and . . his office staff also . . shall be subject to a fine of twenty pounds of gold, in addition to the punishment of its three primates. Moreover, if the members of the municipal senate, out of favoritism to the persons subject to punishment, should keep silent. . , [then, for them] deportation and forfeiture of property/'78 In a string of such enactments from the mid-fourth century past the mid-fifth, frustrated emperors, echoing the imperatives of frustrated bishops, reached further and further down into the layers of authority beneath them, to the lowliest of their bureaucrats and the most obscure city fathers, looking for responsive zeal.
38 Inevitable, too, was noncompliance. The realities of law enforcement were described in the first chapter and, above, many chance instances of continuing blood sacrifices postboy were offered. It would be easy to add still further, similar scenes of religious life going on as usual in response to the balance of forces in any given setting. 39 There, practices persisted into Carolingian times in overtly pagan form, that is, as religious feasts in sacred precincts. Some idea of their scale can be sensed through excavation that uncovers, here, a grand banquet hall built some time post-Constantine and still in use in the days of this very law; there, the remnants of the animals slaughtered on the spot by the thousands and tens of thousands, in times leading up to the law.
Apart from legislation, only one significant missionary effort is attested, by John under Justinian. That, and individual efforts by monks like Saint Martin in rural areas, will be recalled in the next chapter. In other respects the conversion of people from their traditional faith continued post-4oo in just the same ways, perhaps at just the same rate, as over the preceding couple of centuries. That is, by miracles the claims of the church were validated; and to the extent or in the moment that a person doubted the efficacy of Zeus or Caelestis, recourse was instead had to such powers of succor as the church promised, in return for exclusive fidelity.
Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries by Ramsay MacMullen