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Clerical Exile in Late Antiquity

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Edited By 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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Receptions of Exile: Athanasius of Alexandria’s Legacy

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Abstract: This chapter examines how the stories of Athanasius of Alexandria’s many exiles became a popular literary schema in the late fourth and early fifth centuries. Athanasius’s identity as a triumphant exile quickly became the standard by which subsequent episcopal exiles were measured. In the Johanite controversy of the 5th century Athanasius the exile is invoked to bolster support for John Chrysostom’s tarnished reputation as a failed exile.

Athanasius of Alexandria is frequently cited as one of the pillars of the Christian faith. It is often noted by his ancient – and contemporary – biographers that this legacy is tied directly to his experience of persecution. His frequent exiles, however, were not the only reason his reputation spread well beyond the borders of Alexandria. The stories of Athanasius’s many flights became a popular literary schema that circulated within pro-Nicene Christian literature during the late fourth and early fifth centuries.1 His identity as a triumphant exile quickly became the standard by which subsequent episcopal exiles would be measured. Indeed, by the time the Johannite controversy of the fifth century takes shape in and around Constantinople, Athanasius the exile is invoked to bolster support for John Chrysostom. John’s biographers insist that those who question their hero’s orthodoxy are no better than those heretical enemies of the great Athanasius of Alexandria.

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