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10 The Apostles as Instruments of Social Engagement: The Poetical Representation of the Apostles as a Means of Influencing Society

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Chapter Summary

Christian poetry flourished in the fourth century, especially in the Latin West. This chapter discusses the significance of fourth century Christian poetry. Poetry was an appropriate means to spread a message among all Christians. Christian poets were well aware of this potential of poetry and tried to make use of it. This leads to the question what they wanted to communicate through their poems. The chapter argues that they used their poems to promote two important ecclesiastical issues: the promotion of unity within the church and the promotion of the primacy of Peter. The poetry, in Greek, by Gregory of Nazianzus and his nephew Amphilochius of Iconium is characterized by its overtly didactic purpose. One of the clearest examples of Gregory's didactic concerns might be his poem 1.1.19: an enumeration of the names of the twelve apostles in hexameters.

Keywords: apostles; Christian poetry; ecclesiastical issues; Gregory of Nazianzus



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