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THE CHRISTIANISATION OF THE PELOPONNESE: THE CASE FOR STRATEGIC CHANGE

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 April 2015

Rebecca Sweetman*
Affiliation:
University of St Andrews

Abstract

The issue of the persistence of paganism is now quite well considered; however, it is only in recent times that the same concern approached from another perspective, the multifaceted nature of the Christianisation of the Peloponnese, has become the topic of detailed discussion. It is likely that Christianisation in Achaea took place incrementally and with a variety of effects according to the location. The processes of how this took place and under what circumstances remain to be discussed in detail. As a considered and active process, understanding methods of conversion should provide insights into the nature of society at the time, particularly in terms of communications. Church location reflects a range of choices made in terms of the conversion process and therefore is fundamental to analysing religious transformation. Such insights are important, particularly given the dearth of historical sources for, and difficulties of refining, church chronologies in the Peloponnese. In the case of the Late Antique Peloponnese, a great deal is known about many individual churches as a result of quite extensive excavation of a majority of them, particularly through the work of Pallas and Orlandos. This evidence, together with the results of a survey of all the known Late Antique churches in the Peloponnese undertaken in 2012, makes possible a synthetic interpretation of all the material within the surrounding landscape. While the precise chronologies may remain elusive, this present study shows how sociological theories of conversion processes can be applied to the topographic analysis of the Late Antique churches of the Peloponnese to help determine the nature of Christianisation across the diachronic range. In this work I will present some new theories regarding processes and phases of conversion, and the implications of these in terms of understanding networks and society in the Late Antique Peloponnese.

Ο εκχριστιανισμός της Πελοποννήσου: μια περίπτωση στρατηγικής αλλαγής

Ενώ το ζήτημα της επιμονής στον παγανισμό έχει πλέον συζητηθεί εκτενώς, ένα ανάλογο ζήτημα, το οποίο προσεγγίζεται από μια άλλη σκοπιά, μόνο κατά τα τελευταία χρόνια έχει γίνει θέμα λεπτομερούς συζήτησης: ο πολύπλευρος χαρακτήρας του εκχριστιανισμού της Πελοποννήσου. Είναι πιθανόν ότι ο εκχριστιανισμός της Αχαΐας πραγματοποιήθηκε σταδιακά και με ποικίλες επιπτώσεις ανάλογα με την τοποθεσία. Οι διαδικασίες που σχετίζονται με το πώς πραγματοποιήθηκε και υπό ποιες συνθήκες εξακολουθούν να μην έχουν συζητηθεί λεπτομερώς. Παρόλα αυτά, η κατανόηση των μεθόδων της αλλαγής θρησκεύματος, ως μια συνειδητή και ενεργή διαδικασία, θα πρέπει να παρέχει πληροφορίες για τη φύση της κοινωνίας εκείνη την εποχή, ιδιαίτερα όσον αφορά στις επικοινωνίες. Οι τοποθεσίες των εκκλησιών αντανακλούν μια σειρά από επιλογές, όσον αφορά στις διαδικασίες θρησκευτικής μετατροπής και, συνεπώς, είναι θεμελιώδους σημασίας για την ανάλυση τους. Αυτές οι πληροφορίες είναι σημαντικές κυρίως λόγω της έλλειψης ιστορικών πηγών σχετικά με τις χρονολογίες των εκκλησιών στην Πελοπόννησο, καθώς και των δυσκολιών επεξεργασίας τους. Για την περίπτωση της Ύστερης Αρχαιότητας στην Πελοπόννησο, πολλά είναι γνωστά για πολλές μεμονωμένες εκκλησίες, ως αποτέλεσμα των αρκετά εκτεταμένων ανασκαφών στην πλειονότητα από αυτές, κυρίως μέσα από το έργο των Πάλλα και Ορλάνδου. Τα στοιχεία αυτά, σε συνδυασμό με τα αποτελέσματα της έρευνας όλων των γνωστών εκκλησιών της Ύστερης Αρχαιότητας στην Πελοπόννησο που πραγματοποιήθηκε το 2012, επιτρέπουν να γίνει δυνατή μια συνθετική ερμηνεία όλου του υλικού στο πλαίσιο του γύρω τοπίου. Ενώ οι ακριβείς χρονολογίες μπορούν να παραμείνουν ασαφείς, η παρούσα μελέτη δείχνει πως κοινωνιολογικές θεωρίες των διαδικασιών μετατροπής είναι δυνατόν να εφαρμοστούν στην τοπογραφική ανάλυση των εκκλησιών της Ύστερης Αρχαιότητας στην Πελοπόννησο ώστε να βοηθήσουν στον προσδιορισμό της φύσης του εκχριστιανισμού σε διαχρονική κλίμακα. Σε αυτή την εργασία θα παρουσιάσω κάποιες νέες θεωρίες σχετικά με τις διαδικασίες και τις φάσεις της θρησκευτικής μετατροπής, καθώς και τις συνέπειές τους σχετικά με την κατανόηση των δικτύων και της κοινωνίας κατά την Ύστερη Αρχαιότητα στην Πελοπόννησο.

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Copyright © The Council, British School at Athens 2015 

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