Three Reasons Christianity Flourished in the Roman Empire
So far the diffusion of Hellenism was the workof the Seleucids, then of the Romans. Now a new factor appears. In thefourth century the eastward spread of Hellenism became the deliberatetask of the Christian Church, which at that time identified itself withthe Roman Empire. From this point the political history of Rome may belaid aside and attention concentrated on the outspread of Christianity.
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In Christian times Aramaic appears in twodialectal forms, Western and Eastern, the former with a phonology whichhas resemblances with Hebrew, probably representing the vernacular ofthe Syrian and Palestinian littoral, whilst the Eastern remains moretrue to the earlier Aramaic. The Eastern form is used in the JewishAramaic of the Targums and Talmud (Gemara). The Aramaic of Palestine,which gave way before the Arab conquest, known to us only in fragmentsrecovered of recent years from Sinai, Egypt, and Damascus. In thehinterland Aramaic survived in the western dialect only in somecommunities in the Lebanon, but the eastern dialect spread from thehighlands of Armenia to the Persian Gulf and produced a richliterature. The focus of that literary output was at Edessa, and thematerial produced belongs chiefly to the Christian era, though therewas a certain pre-Christian Edessene literature. But most of itsmaterial dates from the third century A.D. onwards. The ChristianAramaic writers introduced the term as the name oftheir language, a name based on the fact that its home was in the Romanprovince of Syria, and from that it is usual to employ the term Syriacto denote Ch-ristian Aramaic. A distinctive feature of this Aramaic isthe use of the prefix ri- in the 3rd person of the impcrfect tense ofthe verb in place of which appears in other Semiticlanguages.
In the two essays by Bowerstock and Cameron, we are strongly given to understand that the adjective "Roman" refers to the original City of Rome, so that an expression like "Roman Studies" only means those matters that, in the Latin language, pertain to the time when the original City of Rome was the active capital of the Empire.
Roman Decadence, Rome and Romania, and the …
As the captives were free to follow their ownreligion they enjoyed greater religious freedom under Persian rule thanthey were officially permitted at that time in the Roman Empire, forthose who were Christians were allowed to build and maintain churches,whilst within the Roman jurisdiction Christianity was still liable topersecution. At Yaranishahr, which was one of the camp cities assignedthe captives, they had two churches, in one the liturgy was celebratedin Greek, in the other the Syriac language was used ed. Scher, in P.O., iv, 220-1).
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At the death of Iamblichus in 33o, his schooldispersed, but he had a successor in at Pergamum inMysia, who educated the sons of Eustathius, a noble Roman who was senton an embassy to the Persian court. By that time the Roman Empire wasprofessedly Christian, and the philosophers who adhered to paganism hadto keep their religious sympathies secret. Amongst Aedisius' pupils wasthe Emperor Julian, who made an attempt to revive decaying paganism,but without permanent result. The great hope of the pagan party lay inthe neo-Platonists. At the beginning of the fifth century Hypathia (d.415) expounded neo-Platonic doctrines at Alexandria, but for the mostpart Alexandrian thought was not much attached to neo-Platonism. Thesame teaching was continued after her by Hierocles (circ. 415-450), apupil of Plutarch of Athens (d. 481), who seems to have beenresponsible for introducing neo-Platonism into Athens which from histime forward became its home. Plutarch was succeeded at Athens bySyrianus of Alexandria. After him came Proclus (410-485) a native ofConstantinople who received his education at Alexandria, then continuedat Athens under Plutarch and Syrianus. He was the author of a treatiseon "Platonic Theology "and of one called "Theological Elements ", whichcontains a statement of the doctrine of Plotinus modified in a formwhich supplied the philosophical ideas of the later neo-Platonists, sothat he ranks next after Plotinus as an authority of their system. Atthat time the school of Athens, the home of neo-Platonism, was secretlypagan and conscious of the precarious character of the tolerance whichit enjoyed. One of his pupils was Marinus, who wrote his biography.
How Greek Science Passed to the Arabs
The last head of the academy of Athens was a native of Damascus as his name denotes, but educated at Alexandria,then at Athens. He professed to accept the Aristotelian doctrine of theeternity of matter, in contradiction to the accepted Christian tenet ofcreation, and for this was viewed disapprovingly by the EmperorJustinian. But this was merely the climax of a growing antagonism ofthe imperial authorities for what was generally felt to be a nursery ofpaganism. Justinian's ideal was a centralized and united empire, incomplete conformity with the ruling prince in religion and ineverything else. Official disapproval led to a species of persecutionof all philosophers in 528, and in the following year the school ofAthens was closed and its endowments confiscated. Of the deprivedprofessors seven, including Damascius, migrated to Persia and werewelcomed by Khusraw, who was an ardent admirer of Greek philosophy andscience. This migration seems to have taken place in 532. The sevenphilosophers expected to find an ideal state under the rule of aphilosopher king, but were quickly disillusioned and discovered that anoriental tyranny could be worse than the severity of Justinian, andbegged to be allowed to go back. Khusraw tried to induce them toremain, but used no compulsion, and -when they did return took care toinsert a clause in the treaty made with Justinian securing themcomplete liberty of conscience and freedom from molestation when underRoman rule. This return took place in 533.