"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).

Monday, April 18, 2016

City of Demons

The University of California Press has put into my hands a new book City of Demons: Violence, Ritual, and Christian Power in Late Antiquity, written by Dayna S. Kalleres and published last fall. Comprising 392 pages, with helpful maps at the outset of Jerusalem, Antioch, and Milan, this book, the publisher tells us, looks at an overlooked area in the burgeoning studies on episcopal roles and authority in antiquity:
Although it would appear in studies of late antique ecclesiastical authority and power that scholars have covered everything, an important aspect of the urban bishop has long been neglected: his role as demonologist and exorcist. When the emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the realm, bishops and priests everywhere struggled  to “Christianize” the urban spaces still dominated by Greco-Roman monuments and festivals. During this period of upheaval, when congregants seemingly attended everything but their own “orthodox” church, many ecclesiastical leaders began simultaneously to promote aggressive and insidious depictions of the demonic. In City of Demons, Dayna S. Kalleres investigates this developing discourse and the church-sponsored rituals that went along with it, showing how shifting ecclesiastical demonologies and evolving practices of exorcism profoundly shaped Christian life in the fourth century.
The first section treats of St. John Chrysostom and Antioch, while the second treats Cyril of Jerusalem; and the third Ambrose of Milan.

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