Christians in Conversation: A Guide to Late Antique Dialogues in Greek and Syriac

ISBN : 9780190915452

Alberto Rigolio
288 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Apr 2019
Oxford Studies in Late Antiquity
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This book addresses a particular and little-known form of writing, the prose dialogue, during the Late Antique period, when Christian authors adopted and transformed the dialogue form to suit the new needs of religious debate. Connected to, but departing from, the dialogues of Classical Antiquity, these new forms staged encounters between Christians and pagans, Jews, Manichaeans, and "heretical" fellow Christians. At times fiction, at others records of, or scripts for, actual debates, the dialogues give us a glimpse of Late Antique rhetoric as it was practiced and tell us about the theological arguments underpinning religious differences. By offering the first comprehensive analysis of Christian dialogues in Greek and Syriac from the earliest examples to the end of the sixth century CE, the present volume shows that Christian authors saw the dialogue form as a suitable vehicle for argument and apologetic in the context of religious controversy and argues that dialogues were intended as effective tools of opinion formation in Late Antique society. Most Christian dialogues are little studied, and often in isolation, but they vividly evoke the religious debates of the time and they embody the cultural conventions and refinements that Late Antique men and women expected from such debates.


Structure of the Work
Dialogue and Christianity
Dialogues and Late Antiquity
The Dialogue Form and Rhetorical Training
The Dialogue Form and Erotapokriseis
Towards a Comprehensive Approach?
A Formal Typology
Guide to Dialogues
Index of Dialogues, Erotapokriseis, and Related Texts
General Index
General Bibliography

About the author: 

Alberto Rigolio was trained in Classics and Late Antiquity in Milan, Oxford, and Princeton, and is currently Assistant Professor in Classics at Durham University. He works on the cultural history of the later Roman world, with particular reference to the transformations of ancient rhetorical and philosophical traditions in Early Christianity and Late Antiquity.

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