An Eye for an Eye

Michael Gaddis

in There Is No Crime for Those Who Have Christ

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2005 | ISBN: 9780520241046
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930902 | DOI:
An Eye for an Eye

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This chapter returns to North Africa, the scene of violent struggle between the schismatic Donatists and the state-sponsored Catholics. It explores both how the Donatists sought to present themselves as the “Church of the Martyrs,” facing persecution from a Constantinian regime they believed to be Christian in name only, and also how Optatus, Augustine, and other bishops of the Catholic camp attempted to undermine Donatist claims to religious legitimacy by focusing on the violent conduct of the Circumcellions, Donatism's militant wing. The Donatist emphasis on martyrdom was sufficiently strong to produce on occasion behavior that others might regard as suicidal. The collapse of Donatism can be traced to the failure of the “Church of the Martyrs” to co-opt the power of that same state that it saw as “persecutor”.

Keywords: religious violence; North Africa; Donatists; Catholics; Optatus; Augustine; Circumcellions; Donatism; Church of the Martyrs

Chapter.  12903 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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