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, 2011-09-01
EAN 9780521127257, ISBN10: 0521127254

Hardcover, 930 pages, 22.6 x 22.5 x 15.5 cm

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.

'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