By Arietta Papaconstantinou, Daniel L. Schwartz

The papers during this quantity have been offered at a Mellon-Sawyer Seminar held on the collage of Oxford in 2009-2010, which sought to enquire part by means of facet the 2 vital events of conversion that body overdue antiquity: to Christianity at its commence, and to Islam on the different finish. difficult the competition among the 2 stereotypes of Islamic conversion as an intrinsically violent procedure, and Christian conversion as a essentially non secular one, the papers search to isolate the behaviours and situations that made conversion either any such universal and one of these contested phenomenon. The unfold of Buddhism in Asia in extensively a similar interval serves as an exterior comparator that used to be now not stuck within the web of the Abrahamic religions. the amount is organised round a number of topics, reflecting the worries of the preliminary undertaking with the articulation among norm and perform, the function of professionals and associations, and the social and person fluidity at the floor. Debates, discussions, and the expression of norms and ideas approximately conversion conversion usually are not infrequent in societies experiencing spiritual swap, and the 1st component of the e-book examines a few of the major matters cited through surviving assets. this can be by way of 3 sections reading assorted elements of the way these rules have been - or weren't - positioned into perform: how conversion used to be dealt with by way of the kingdom, the way it used to be always redefined through person ambivalence and cultural fluidity, and the way it was once enshrined via assorted types of institutionalization. eventually, a topographical coda examines the consequences of spiritual swap at the iconic holy urban of Jerusalem.

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Imperial legislation from Theodosius onwards, apparently intended to enforce Christianity or proscribe pagan or heretical practices, used to be seen as a straightforward indicator. But given a closer understanding of how late Roman law worked – or did not work – in practice, this ‘evidence’ now seems like another minefield; laws were frequently repeated, and were usually in any case rescripts addressed to local enquiries or local petitions. 29 The state was rarely in a position to implement such legislation, and rarely did so (this was also true Rodney Stark, Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome (San Francisco, 2006), with a chapter entitled ‘Why Historians Ought to Count’; less cited by late antique historians is another book by Stark, tellingly entitled The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism and Western Success (New York, 2005).

Generally, such narratives are as etiological as they are historical, giving a holy figure an important role in the establishment of the community as a way to give lustre to its origins. 50 Building Jerusalem Territory is very important when it comes to establishing group boundaries, and conversion is no exception. It was impossible to focus on everything in a single volume, so space had largely been left out of our central concerns. 51 Here we have chosen to take a spatial symbol, Jerusalem, which came to carry meanings 49 For a discussion of the distinction between ‘Islamization’ and ‘Arabization’, see Décobert, ‘Sur l’arabisation’; on Iran, see now Sarah Savant, The New Muslims of PostConquest Iran: : Tradition, Memory, and Conversion (Cambridge, 2013).

When Cyril of Scythopolis describes how the monk Euthymios converted an entire tribe of Arab nomads not only to Christianity, but also to the sedentary life, he is developing an archetypal narrative defending the superiority not only of a religion, but of a culture and a way of life. Generally, such narratives are as etiological as they are historical, giving a holy figure an important role in the establishment of the community as a way to give lustre to its origins. 50 Building Jerusalem Territory is very important when it comes to establishing group boundaries, and conversion is no exception.

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