"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Classifying Christians and Heretics

The University of California Press continues to publish impressive and important studies in early Christian history, not least, as I noted earlier, the Syriac Christian tradition.

From California I recently received in the mail a new study: Classifying Christians: Ethnography, Heresiology, and the Limits of Knowledge in Late Antiquity by Todd S. Berzon (2016), 320pp.

About this book we are told:
Classifying Christians investigates late antique Christian heresiologies as ethnographies that catalogued and detailed the origins, rituals, doctrines, and customs of the heretics in explicitly polemical and theological terms. Oscillating between ancient ethnographic evidence and contemporary ethnographic writing, Todd S. Berzon argues that late antique heresiology shares an underlying logic with classical ethnography in the ancient Mediterranean world. By providing an account of heresiological writing from the second to fifth century, Classifying Christians embeds heresiology within the historical development of imperial forms of knowledge that have shaped western culture from antiquity to the present.

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