The Politics of Heresy in Ambrose of Milan: Community and Consensus in Late Antique Christianity

The Politics of Heresy in Ambrose of Milan: Community and Consensus in Late Antique Christianity

by Michael Stuart Williams


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Ambrose of Milan is famous above all for his struggle with, and triumph over, 'Arian' heresy. Yet, almost all of the evidence comes from Ambrose's own writings, and from pious historians of the next generation who represented him as a champion of orthodoxy. This detailed study argues instead that an 'Arian' opposition in Milan was largely conjured up by Ambrose himself, lumping together critics and outsiders in order to secure and justify his own authority. Along with new interpretations of Ambrose's election as bishop, his controversies over the faith, and his clashes with the imperial court, this book provides a new understanding of the nature and significance of heretical communities in Late Antiquity. In place of rival congregations inflexibly committed to doctrinal beliefs, it envisages a world of more fluid allegiances in which heresy - but also consensus - could be a matter of deploying the right rhetorical frame.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781107019461
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 10/19/2017
Pages: 356
Product dimensions: 6.26(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.91(d)

About the Author

Michael Stuart Williams is Lecturer in Roman History at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth in the Department of Ancient Classics. He has published widely on the history and culture of late-antique Christianity. His books include Authorised Lives in Early Christian Biography: Between Eusebius and Augustine (Cambridge, 2008) and (with E. P. Moloney) an edited volume on Peace and Reconciliation in the Classical World (2017).

Table of Contents

Introduction: the strange death of 'Arian' Milan; 1. Making distinctions: Christian identity and community in Late Antiquity; 2. A tale of two bishops: Auxentius of Milan and the election of Ambrose; 3. Framing the faith: Aquileia, De fide, and the rhetoric of unity; 4. Manufacturing consensus: communities, leaders and the first basilica crisis; 5. Popular appeal: unity and authority in the second basilica crisis; Conclusion: waiting for the Arians; Bibliography.

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