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The Politics of Heresy in Ambrose of Milan
Community and Consensus in Late Antique Christianity


  • Date Published: October 2017
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107019461

£ 101.00

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About the Authors
  • Ambrose of Milan is famous above all for his struggle with, and triumph over, 'Arian' heresy. Yet, almost all of the evidence comes from Ambrose's own writings, and from pious historians of the next generation who represented him as a champion of orthodoxy. This detailed study argues instead that an 'Arian' opposition in Milan was largely conjured up by Ambrose himself, lumping together critics and outsiders in order to secure and justify his own authority. Along with new interpretations of Ambrose's election as bishop, his controversies over the faith, and his clashes with the imperial court, this book provides a new understanding of the nature and significance of heretical communities in Late Antiquity. In place of rival congregations inflexibly committed to doctrinal beliefs, it envisages a world of more fluid allegiances in which heresy - but also consensus - could be a matter of deploying the right rhetorical frame.

    • Re-examines the familiar story of Ambrose's dealings with heresy and heretics through a close analysis of the ancient sources and in the light of modern understandings of heresiological rhetoric
    • Takes a political and rhetorical approach rather than a theological one, moving the focus away from what people believed towards what they did and said
    • Sets Ambrose's dealings with heresy in the light of modern sociological understandings of identity and group formation
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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2017
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107019461
    • length: 356 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 159 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.65kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: the strange death of 'Arian' Milan
    1. Making distinctions: Christian identity and community in Late Antiquity
    2. A tale of two bishops: Auxentius of Milan and the election of Ambrose
    3. Framing the faith: Aquileia, De fide, and the rhetoric of unity
    4. Manufacturing consensus: communities, leaders and the first basilica crisis
    5. Popular appeal: unity and authority in the second basilica crisis
    Conclusion: waiting for the Arians

  • Author

    Michael Stuart Williams, National University of Ireland, Maynooth
    Michael Stuart Williams is Lecturer in Roman History at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth in the Department of Ancient Classics. He has published widely on the history and culture of late-antique Christianity. His books include Authorised Lives in Early Christian Biography: Between Eusebius and Augustine (Cambridge, 2008) and (with E. P. Moloney) an edited volume on Peace and Reconciliation in the Classical World (2017).

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