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Clerical Exile in Late Antiquity


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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“I Will Never Willingly Desert You”: Exile and Memory in Ambrose of Milan


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David Natal

“I Will Never Willingly Desert You”:Exile and Memory in Ambrose of Milan

Abstract: This chapter argues that Ambrose of Milan († 397) deliberately minimized the memory of his predecessors, the banished bishops Eusebius of Vercelli and Dionysius of Milan, whose example undermined Ambrose’s authority by splitting his congregation into two opposing factions and revealing his lack of a similarly glorious Christian past.

The mid-fourth century was a period of heated theological conflict in northern Italy. As in other places of the empire, the Arian controversy divided Christian communities into two main doctrinal groups, the Nicenes, who supported the Homoousian formula of the Trinity and stated the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son, and the Arians, who defended that the Son is distinct and subordinate to the Father. In an attempt to put an end to these doctrinal dissensions, the Emperor Constantius II († 361) summoned a Council in Milan in 355. Relying on imperial support, a majority of bishops condemned the Nicene doctrines, and subscribed a new Trinitarian formula that was later ratified in the Council of Rimini in 359. Instead of the consubstantiality (homoousios) of the Son and the Father, these councils stated the “similarity” (homoios) between the two hypostases.1 Unwilling to subscribe to the Homoian theology of Milan, three recalcitrant Nicene bishops were condemned into exile. Dionysius of Milan spent the rest of his days in Cappadocia where he died around 360; Lucifer of Cagliari († ca. 371)...

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