Sacred Violence: African Christians and Sectarian Hatred in the Age of Augustine

Sacred Violence: African Christians and Sectarian Hatred in the Age of Augustine

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Brent D. Shaw
Cambridge University Press, 9/1/2011
EAN 9780521127257, ISBN10: 0521127254

Paperback, 930 pages, 22.7 x 15.1 x 4 cm
Language: English

One route to understanding the nature of specifically religious violence is the study of past conflicts. Distinguished ancient historian Brent D. Shaw provides a new analysis of the intense sectarian battles between the Catholic and Donatist churches of North Africa in late antiquity, in which Augustine played a central role as Bishop of Hippo. The development and deployment of images of hatred, including that of the heretic, the pagan, and the Jew, and the modes by which these were most effectively employed, including the oral world of the sermon, were critical to promoting acts of violence. Shaw explores how the emerging ecclesiastical structures of the Christian church, on one side, and those of the Roman imperial state, on the other, interacted to repress or excite violent action. Finally, the meaning and construction of the acts themselves, including the Western idea of suicide, are shown to emerge from the conflict itself.

1. This terrible custom
2. Church of the traitors
3. Poisonous brood of vipers
4. Archives of memory
5. City of denial
6. Ravens feeding on death
7. Little foxes, evil women
8. Guardians of the people
9. In the house of discipline
10. Sing a new song
11. Kings of our age
12. We choose to stand
13. Athletes of death
14. Bad boys
15. Men of blood
16. Divine winds
Appendix A. Bishops and bishoprics in Africa
the numbers
Appendix B. Origins of the division
Appendix C. The Catholic conference of 348
Appendix D. The peasant jacquerie of Axido and Fasir
Appendix E. The mission of Paul and Macarius
Appendix F. Historical fictions
interpreting the circumcellions
Appendix G. The archaeology of suicide
Appendix H. African sermons.

'Shaw draws upon a knowledge and expertise in African History, secular as well as sacred, which is hard to match among his contemporaries, and certainly unequalled among those who are writing in English. His handling of the 'revolts' of Firmus, Gildo and Heraclian is as assured and authoritative as his treatment of the Circumcellions, which is, quite simply, the best available in any language.' Peter Garnsey, Professor of the History of Classical Antiquity, University of Cambridge