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Gibbon and the 'Watchmen of the Holy City'The Historian and his Reputation, 1776-1815$
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David Womersley

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780198187332

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198187332.001.0001

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‘Too deeply into the mud of the Arian controversy’: Gibbon and the Early Church Fathers

‘Too deeply into the mud of the Arian controversy’: Gibbon and the Early Church Fathers

Chapter:
(p.100) 3 ‘Too deeply into the mud of the Arian controversy’: Gibbon and the Early Church Fathers
Source:
Gibbon and the 'Watchmen of the Holy City'
Author(s):

DAVID WOMERSLEY

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198187332.003.003

Gibbon was aware that the historical terrain he was obliged to traverse for the second instalment of The Decline and Fall (1781) was rich in potential to offend those of orthodox religious beliefs. In particular, he knew that his accounts of the early Church, of the development of its doctrines (especially the doctrine of the Trinity), and of its dealings with the emperor Constantine and his successors, would be closely scrutinised. This chapter suggests how Gibbon's alertness to probable lines of attack stimulated him towards a new subtlety of historical interpretation, and shows how the historian's critics became secret sharers in the business of historical composition.

Keywords:   Decline and Fall, early Christian Church, the Trinity

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