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Reading the Panarion as Collective Biography: The Heresiarch as Unholy Man

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image of Vigiliae Christianae

This article proposes a reading of the Panarion, a fourth-century heresiology, as a collective biography, a genre that compiled shortened biographical snapshots of prominent individuals who together embodied an idealized way of life. Epiphanius, the defender and model of orthodoxy, augmented his power and authority through his writing and heresy-hunting activities. The Panarion included miniature biographies of heresiarchs in many of the entries, and together these biographies constructed the composite image and character of the heresiarch and collectively portrayed the unholy life.

Affiliations: 1: History and Classics, Calvin College 1845 Knollcrest Circle SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546 USA, Email:


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