Arnobius of Sicca: Religious Conflict and Competition in the Age of Diocletian

Arnobius of Sicca: Religious Conflict and Competition in the Age of Diocletian

Hardback Oxford Early Christian Studies (Hardcover)

By (author) Michael Bland Simmons

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  • Publisher: Clarendon Press
  • Format: Hardback | 406 pages
  • Dimensions: 146mm x 216mm x 32mm | 599g
  • Publication date: 28 December 1995
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0198149131
  • ISBN 13: 9780198149132
  • Edition statement: New.

Product description

Arnobius of Sicca, in North Africa, was a Christian convert writing in the time of the Emperor Diocletian in the 3rd sentury AD. His most famous work, Against the Pagans, was written shortly after his conversion (c. AD 302), and is a brilliant defence of his new religion using arguments taken from the cream of pagan learning. It demonstrates exactly the nature and intensity of the conflict between pagans and Christians at this period. This book is the first ever major study of Arnobius. It deals fully with every important aspect of his life and writing - from the complex and controversial question of the date of Against the Pagans, to the biographical data provided by Jerome, to the significance of the conflict between the African supreme deity, Saturn, and the Christian God. Dr Simmons provides clear evidence to show that Arnobius' work is directly related to the anti-Christian writings of the famous Porphyry of Tyre, demonstrating how Arnobius used one work of Porphyry against another to disclose inconsistencies and contradictions in the great pagan polymath - the very method used by Porphyry in his own treatise, Against the Christians. Dr Simmons discusses the philosophical background of Arnobius, arguing convincingly that he belonged to the Platonic, not Epicurean, school of thought as has often been alleged. Arnobius has hitherto been one of the most misinterpreted ancient authors. This book will set Arnobius firmly on the map as a writer of condsiderable interest and importance, who made a significant contribution to the final triumph of Christianity over its Graeco-Roman competitors.

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Review quote

It is the revised version of a doctoral thesis presented at Edinburgh in 1985, and as the first monograph on Arnobius in English marks a watershed in the study of the author. ... The many-faceted erudition of Dr Simmons will be a substantial help to those who hope to sharpen appreciation of Arnobius' arguments, and of the complicated controversies which surrounded the Great Persecution and the Ruse of Constantine. ... this is a bahnbrechend study of a difficult author. Oliver Nicholson, Journal of Theological Studies The first major study of Arnobius of Sicca. Theology Digest Interesting and well researched book...the book is meticulously argued and carefully documented. Appropriate for research libraries and for specialists in Latin patristics. Religious Studies Review Simmons is thoroughly persuasive; he has found more extensive signs of Porphyrian influence than his predecessors, whose work he generously credits, and his book will put Arnobian scholarship on sounder footing. Church History This work will repay the reader by illustrating the fascination and complexity of the social. political. religious and intellectual background against which Christianity was developing at this time. The Glastonbury Review

Back cover copy

Arnobius of Sicca, in North Africa, was a Christian convert writing in the time of the Emperor Diocletian in the third and early fourth century AD. His most famous work, Against the Pagans, was written shortly after his conversion (c.AD 302), and is a brilliant defence of his new religion using arguments taken from the cream of pagan learning. It demonstrates exactly the nature and intensity of the conflict between pagans and Christians at this period. This book is the first ever major study of Arnobius. It deals fully with every important aspect of his life and writingfrom the complex and controversial question of the date of Against the Pagans, to the biographical data provided by Jerome, and the significance of the conflict between the African supreme deity, Saturn, and the Christian God. Dr Simmons provides clear evidence to show that Arnobius' work is directly related to the anti-Christian writings of the Porphyry of Tyre, demonstrating how Arnobius used one work Porphyry against another to disclose inconsistencies and contradictions in the great pagan polymaththe very method used by Porphyry himself in his own treatise Against the Christians. Dr Simmons discusses the philosophical background to Arnobius, arguing convincingly that he belonged to the Platonic, not Epicurean school of thought as has often been alleged. Arnobius has hitherto been one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted ancient authors. This book will set Arnobius firmly on the map as a writer of considerable interest and importance, who made a significant contribution to the final triumph of Christianity over its Gracco-Roman competitors.