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Clerical Exile in Late Antiquity


Julia Hillner, Jörg Ulrich and Jakob Engberg

This volume results from the international research project ‘The Migration of Faith: Clerical Exile in Late Antiquity (325‒c.600)’. The project is a collaboration between the Department of History at the University of Sheffield, the Seminar für Kirchengeschichte at the University of Halle, and the Department of Culture and Society at Aarhus University. Ten chapters of the volume are revised versions of papers delivered at the XVII International Conference on Patristic Studies held in Oxford in 2015. The three chapters of the first part of the volume discuss the question of "Clerical Exile and Social Control". The second part offers five selected case studies from the 3rd to the 6th centuries. The final part deals with discourses, memories, and legacies of clerical exile in late antiquity.

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Exile, Identity and Space: Cyprian of Carthage and the Rhetoric of Social Formation


Abstract: Cyprian’s period of exile threatened his episcopal authority and provoked great controversy within his church. To explain this situation, the bishop drew upon exilic topoi to defend his flight, to counter the support for an elite church defined by martyrs and confessors, and to establish the attitudes and behaviors necessary to protect church boundaries.

Within a century after the death of Cyprian of Carthage, Christian writers regularly lauded the bishop as a model of Christian virtue. His prudent leadership, literary skill, and theological acumen were all traits that contributed, according to his hagiographers, to his worldwide reputation for wisdom and eloquence. Gregory of Nazianzus, for instance, calls Cyprian “the greatest and most respected of pastors” whose influence reached every corner of the earth, a “bastion of learning” whose rhetorical elegance “eclipsed the rest of humankind to the degree that rational creatures are superior to brute nature.”1 Similarly, Prudentius refers to him as “the glory and teacher of the world” whose books every Christian must read.2 While such rhetorical license is hardly unusual among the classically-trained authors of late antiquity, in this case such boasts have historical support: in the fourth and fifth centuries, schismatics, heretics, and orthodox writers alike appealed to Cyprian as an authority on issues ranging from ecclesiastical order and community concord to the sacraments and Christian ethics.3 ← 129 | 130 →

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