Sunday, November 11, 2007


November 7, 2007
Lecture Outline

1. Two main religions in the Mediterranean before the apparition of Christianity: the Greco-Roman religion and the Jewish religion.
2. “Oriental” influences in Greco-Roman religion. Mithraism (Mithraea, decorated by frescoes from 2nd-3rd c.). Tendency towards mysticism.
3. Neo-Platonism: a metaphysical problematic (3rd c.).
4. Christ. Teaching of love, abolishment of social privileges, justice. Consideration to the poor and the helpless.
5. Texts: Old and New Testament (The Gospels, the Apocalypse of John, the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles).
6. The contribution of Paul to the spreading of the new religion out of the Jewish communities. Foundation of churches.
7. Numerous persecutions of the Christians, esp. during the emperors Nero, Decius, Diocletian. Martyrs – heroes.
8. By the 4th c. A.D., about 10% of the population of the Roman Empire was Christian.
9. Religious policies of Constantine and Theodosian I.
10. 3rd-4th c.: the monasticism, born in Egypt, starts to develop in Syria and then in Palestine and Anatolia (see Peter Brown). The holy man.

Vocabulary, names and dates

ca. 30 A.D.: crucifixion of Christ.
ca. 35 A.D.: conversion of Paul.
65 A.D.: decapitation of Paul, during Nero
Preaching of an eternal life, peace, love, equity, justice.
Catacombs, Eucharist
Plotinus, Augustine, Boethius
Symeon Stylites (+ 459)
Monasticism, holy man,
Late Antiquity

Constantine (306-337).
313: the edict of Milan.
325: 1st General Council (Nicaea I), in Isnik.
330: Inauguration of Constantinople.
337: Constantine’s baptism.

Theodosius I (378-395)
381: 2nd General Council (Constantinople)
391: Edicts against paganism
392: destruction of the gigantic Serapeum of Alexandria (the biggest temple of its time) and of its library.
393: last Olympic Games