Interactions between Science, Religion, and Literature
Edited By Luis Arturo Guichard, Juan Luis García Alonso and María Paz de Hoz
Christian Paideia in Early Imperial Alexandria: Clelia Martínez Maza
CLELIA MARTÍNEZ MAZA
Christian Paideia in Early Imperial Alexandria
Over the course of several centuries, the Christian community in Alexandria evolved from a persecuted minority to the dominant force in the city’s politics, society and economic life.1 Yet it is impossible to chart the progressive Christianization of Alexandria’s aristocracy, at least in the same detail as is possible for other cities, such as Rome. Nevertheless, the third century appears to have been the crucial epoch for the penetration of Christianity among the Alexandrian elite, with the city’s Christian community now acquiring a public face2. According to the Shepherd of Hermas, Christians “have won riches and renown among pagans […] they are absorbed in business and wealth and friendships with pagans”3. It was usual for Christians to serve in real, active civic magistracies, too. The situation in Alexandria was not very different. The letters of Dionysus, bishop during the years of the midcentury persecutions, speak of several Alexandrian aristocrats who were punished for their faith. These bouletai appear to have been especially susceptible to official pressure. Dionysus mourns the fact that ‘Nevertheless all were panic-stricken, and num ← 211 | 212 → bers at once of those who were in higher positions, some came forward in fear; and some who held public posts were led by their official duties’4. Alexandria saw many defections, especially among the more socially eminent, including those in official employ5.
During most of the period, therefore, Christians as such avoided attention, although they...
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