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IMC 2023: Sessions

Session 709: Faith, Theology, and Ideals of Living in the Late Roman Empire

Tuesday 4 July 2023, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Nicola Ernst, School of Historical & Philosophical Inquiry, University of Queensland
Paper 709-aThrough the 'Gates of Paradise': Eucherius, Ontology, and the Late Ancient Monastery of Lérins
(Language: English)
Matthew Baker, Department of History, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Index terms: Ecclesiastical History, Monasticism, Philosophy, Religious Life
Paper 709-bThe Reception of Augustine's City of God in Orosius' Against the Pagans
(Language: English)
Cédrik Michel, Department of Classics & Ancient History, Durham University
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Language and Literature - Latin, Literacy and Orality, Theology

Paper -a:
Few monasteries so powerfully influenced Christian culture in the Late Antique West as did Lérins in southern Gaul. And no writer more directly shaped 'Lerinian monasticism' than did the monk Eucherius. His major works, In Praise of the Desert and On Hating the World, present what this paper will describe as a 'Lerinian ontology' - a way of being-in-the-world peculiar to the monastic network of Lérins that emphasizes the immediate presence of the divine alongside an optimism in the human condition and in the possibility of paradise brought down to Earth. This paper will also show how the Lerinian network intersected with the broader network of 'Origenist' discourse emanating from controversy in the East. Ultimately, the paper will present Eucherius and the monks of Lérins as more than precursors to later Benedictine monasticism but instead as representatives of a lost opportunity, a different mode of being that its opponents would eventually stamp out of Christian orthodoxy in the West.

Paper -b:
This paper will highlight the importance of considering the chronology of the circulation of the City of God's books (c.426) in understanding Against the Pagans (c.417) as one of the earliest instances of reception of the City of God. Despite Orosius being tasked by Augustine to compile the troubles caused by disasters and wars which had occurred before Christian times, scholarship has considered the content of Orosius' Against the Pagans to be antithetical to that of Augustine's City of God. Orosius, however, would likely only have access to the first three books of Augustine's magnum opus, which were in circulation by 413-414, rather than the completed City of God, comprised of 22 books, to which scholars today compare Against the Pagans. The comparison of passages found in the first three books of the City of God with Against the Pagans demonstrates a less antagonistic relationship between both works than what scholars have claimed.