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The Origin of Zealous Intolerance: Paulus Orosius and Violent Religious Conflict in the Early Fifth Century

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image of Vigiliae Christianae

This article explores the origins of religious intolerance in two episodes from the early fifth century AD: the forcible conversion of 540 Jews in Minorca by Bishop Severus, and the failed attempt by the monk Fronto to uncover heterodox belief in Tarragona, north-east Hispania. With the newly discovered relics of St Stephen, the presbyter Paulus Orosius brought a peculiarly vehement and absolute intolerance of non-orthodox Christianity to Minorca. Intolerance was facilitated and communicated through a trans-Mediterranean network of Christians connected through letter-writing and the exchange of visitors, of which Orosius was a particularly mobile and dynamic participant. In contrast to previous criticism, this article identifies Orosius as a point of intersection within the controversies, and, in the dissemination of his ideology of intolerance, as a catalyst for conflict.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Classical Studies


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