Academic journal article Church History

Cyprian and Roman Carthage

Academic journal article Church History

Cyprian and Roman Carthage

Article excerpt

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Allen Brent, an affiliated lecturer in the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge and author of the acclaimed A Political History of Early Christianity (New York: T & T Clark International, 2009), here offers insights into the interplay between pagan Roman politics and third-century North African Christian procedures. His argument is that Cyprian, before his conversion a prominent patrician rhetor or advocatus , continued to draw upon Roman jurisdictional principles and cultural influences to model church governance. Hence the book is almost equally divided between analyses of practices of contemporary Roman emperors and Cyprian's episcopal procedures.

Readers will find here a logical explanation of why, during times of crises and perceived cyclic decline, emperors such as Decius hoped to placate pagan divinities and to achieve a pax deorum by requiring citizens to offer propitiatory, apotropaic supplication. Christians could fulfill this demand via three forms of apostasy: as sacrificati (offering animal sacrifice), thurificati (burning incense only), or libellatici (obtaining spurious certificates of compliance). …

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