Item description for Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire: The Development of Christian Discourse (Sather Classical Lectures, Vol 55) by Averil Cameron...
Many reasons can be given for the rise of Christianity in late antiquity and its flourishing in the medieval world. In asking how Christianity succeeded in becoming the dominant ideology in the unpromising circumstances of the Roman Empire, Averil Cameron turns to the development of Christian discourse over the first to sixth centuries A.D., investigating the discourse's essential characteristics, its effects on existing forms of communication, and its eventual preeminence. Scholars of late antiquity and general readers interested in this crucial historical period will be intrigued by her exploration of these influential changes in modes of communication. The emphasis that Christians placed on language--writing, talking, and preaching--made possible the formation of a powerful and indeed a totalizing discourse, argues the author. Christian discourse was sufficiently flexible to be used as a public and political instrument, yet at the same time to be used to express private feelings and emotion. Embracing the two opposing poles of logic and mystery, it contributed powerfully to the gradual acceptance of Christianity and the faith's transformation from the enthusiasm of a small sect to an institutionalized world religion.
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Studio: University of California Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.98" Width: 6.48" Height: 0.64" Weight: 1 lbs.
Release Date Dec 2, 1994
Publisher University of California Press
ISBN 0520089235 ISBN13 9780520089235
Availability 0 units.
More About Averil Cameron
Averil Cameron is Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies at the University of London, King's College. Her many publications include Images of Women in Antiquity, edited with Amelie Kuhrt (1983), Procopius and the Sixth Century (California, 1985), and History as Text (1989)."
Averil Cameron has an academic affiliation as follows - Keble College, University of Oxford University of Oxford, UK Universit.
Reviews - What do customers think about Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire: The Development of Christian Discourse (Sather Classical Lectures, Vol 55)?
A thought-provoking masterpiece... May 31, 2005
At the time Averil Cameron's "Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire" came into the academic world the study of rhetoric as a historical method was still in its infancy. Much of the type of work done in ancient history ever since has changed in part due to the power of the ideas found in Cameron's insightful lectures.
Any student of classical history and Christianity has to face, sooner or later, one of the greatest riddles of all history: how did an eastern, small, and by all accounts marginal religion was capable not only of surviving, but ultimately of succeeding were other alternatives (and there were many) inexorably failed?
Ancient Christian historians such as Eusebius had no problem to attribute the victory to God, leaving little doubt that every event was carefully coordinated and supervised by the Divine being. But what Eusebius et al did not considered, or rather were unmoved to consider, was how much of the triumph of Christianity had to do with the way it created its own language, or, to borrow from Cameron's terminology, its own "discourse." Christianity is a faith with a message, and, if there is one thing that Christians are suposse to do well, that would be to express that message in a way that would be intelligible to all.
The paradox, which Cameron continously mentions, resides in that, for all its universalist and inclusivist features, Christianity could not coexist without critiquing, and ultimately defeating, other types of discourses. The God of the Christians is not one god, nor even the first god, among many; He is the only God or he is no god at all. How can a religion that has such a exclusivist belief at its heart was able to "conquer" such a pluralistic culture as the Roman Empire remains one of the most fascinating topics any historian could possible choose to study; and among those who do, Cameron's work remains a must read.
Christian rhetoric as a tool of fashioning catholic empire Jan 28, 2001
This is literally a seminal book. For me Cameron provides a meditation on questions and issues that have been haunting me for years regarding the use of language (written and visual) in the formation of a religion that began as small dissident sects and, over the course of three to four centuries achieved imperial recognition and status. This is not a book for tyros, but is most profitably read by students familiar with the sources and the sitz im leben. The speed reader will miss the challenge of confronting his or her own questions with the evidence presented. For example, the author devotes considerable space to the rhetoric of virginity and asceticism. This stimulated me to ask, "Is this language of purity an indictment of a church has been compromised by Roman imperial culture and ethics? Is this insistence on purity an admission of the church's sin of rejecting the meek Jesus of the past in favor of the powerful Kurios of the present? This rejection formally took place when Nicaea declared Christ to be god, a god incarnated in imperial imagery. Cameron indicates that a theological paradigmatic shift took place in the fourth through the fifth centuries. There is a tremendous difference between the tentative use of christian symbols by Ignatius of Antioch and the self assured proclamations of Gregory of Nyssa. The roots of modern christian theology are planted in the fourth through the fifth centuries. Cameron demonstrates that the christian rhetoric of that period provided the familiar themes of Greco Roman culture, but transfused with christian themes. This hybrid not only appealed to all social classes, unlike classical rhetoric, but carried within it the tensions that surfaced during the Iconoclast debate, the debate which resulted in the victory of the masses over the elite. Cameron's style of writing is to present complicated thoughts in lengthy sentences. However, if one hangs in, accepts the evidence presented, and applies it to his own analysis, she will be appreciated as taking the critique of classical rhetoric beyond mere stylistic criticism to its function in the creation of history.