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Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350-450$
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Maijastina Kahlos

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190067250

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190067250.001.0001

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Deviance or otherness inside: Construing heretics

Deviance or otherness inside: Construing heretics

(p.105) 8 Deviance or otherness inside: Construing heretics
Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350-450

Maijastina Kahlos

Oxford University Press

In internecine Christian struggles, differences and disagreements existing within Christianity were taken as deviance and heresy. Heresy and orthodoxy are relational concepts, which means that they are defined in relation to one another. Orthodoxy and heresy are best seen as a process in which councils and bishops set the boundaries of the norm and the deviant. On the one hand, church leaders reduced the variety of rival Christian groups to a single collective term of ‘heretics’. On the other hand, councils and legislators were almost obsessed in their care in naming, listing, and classifying specific heretical inclinations. This chapter introduces three heresies as examples of the construction of deviance. ‘Arianism’ represents the mechanisms by which doctrinal disagreements were deduced into a fundamental heresy. ‘Donatism’ stands for local disagreements that ecclesiastical leaders at first categorized as a schism but later defined as a heresy. ‘Pelagianism’ exemplifies the competition for resources between Christian groups.

Keywords:   deviance, norm, heresy, heretics, orthodoxy, Christianity, Arianism, Donatism, Pelagianism, doctrinal disagreements

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