'CHRISTIANITY & NATIONALISM IN THE LATER ROMAN EMPIRE' (1916)


In 'Christianity and Nationalism in the Later Roman Empire' Ernest Llewellyn Woodward argues that much of the force behind certain heresies during the period was due to ethno-nationalistic undertones of rebellion against Roman imperial control.

Woodward argues that Donatism in North Africa had little to do with theological issues, and that it survived as long as it did only because it represented discontented independence sentiments among populations centered in Numidia. Woodward points to the fact that Donatist churches existed solely in North Africa with the exceptions arising only in ethnic North African enclaves in other portions of the empire.

EXCERPTS

"...there is one other factor that became more important as the empire began to decay; it is the part played in the theological controversy by the non-intellectual, nationalistic motives: the constituent parts of the empire had...great political interests, but little means of expressing in a concrete form the emotions of national or even urban patriotism and the community of race and language. As local influences, therefore, developed different types and schools of thoughts, drawing different conclusions from the common data of Christianity, it became a point of national or racial honor to uphold these different conclusions irrespective, to a large extent, of their philosophical value..." (Pg. 5)

On Germanic invasions of Roman world: "The damage done by the Goths is often exaggerated." (Pg. 24)

"The adoption of Christianity [in Athens and Greece] had meant the revival of oratory, the raising of the general intellectual level which had fallen sadly from the old standard, an improvement in morality, and particularly in the condition of women: Hypatia and Eudocia show the opportunities which were present for the higher education of women." (Pg. 25)

"The Armenian Church...remained united after the partition of Armenia in 440, held to monophysitism. They first adopted it out of opposition to Persian Christianity and out of friendship for the Empire. They used it finally as a barrier to defend their nationality; for this purpose they kept also certain peculiarities of ritual." (Pg. 48)

"Thus we have seen the way in which in the East and in Egypt the Monosphysite heresy - the prevailing topic of thought - was used as an instrument for expressing nationalistic feelings..." (Pg. 94)

Ernest Llewellyn Woodward

Comments