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Religious Diversity In Late Antiquity: An Introduction

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Chapter Summary

The place of religion in the world of Late Antiquity, no less than in our modern world, has been the subject of great debate in recent years. Late Antiquity was a period of diversity and change. The relationship between archaeology and the study of religion has not always been smooth. Archaeologists have at times placed religion and religious belief on the fringes of their research, preferring to focus on economic and social structures, production and settlement. Archaeological discovery and the ongoing reassessment of older literary and material evidence continue to reinforce the diversity of late antique religion. The Christian Empire offered imperial patronage to those who accepted the approved orthodoxy in belief and practice and the threat of persecution to those who did not, together with the structures required to define that orthodoxy at an empire-wide level through the ecumenical council and imperial law.

Keywords: archaeological discovery; Christian empire; late antiquity; orthodoxy; religious diversity



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