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p. 272. Paganism in retreatlocked

  • Owen Davies

Abstract

‘Paganism in retreat’ describes the gradual Christianization of the Roman world. Missionaries were sent into the pagan territories, ideally to live amongst them. To be successful, they had to concentrate on influencing the ruling elites, whose motive for conversion was undoubtedly political as much as spiritual. While desecration and destruction of temples, idols and images dramatically demonstrated the power of Christianity over the old gods, incorporation and assimilation were also effective long-term policies. Though we know rulers adopted Christianity, their pagan subjects were baptized, and the churches controlled their formal religious worship, we do not know how far individuals, families, and communities thought and behaved like devout Christians.

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