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Making Tradition of an Ass. Zênôn the Alexandrian, a White Donkey, and Conversion to Hellenism

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Modern discussions of religious change in the ancient Mediterranean have frequently focused on the steady increase in Christian authority and numbers, and the related decrease in the number of 'pagans.' This is frequently paired with a supercessionist logic that suggests Christianity is a new thing in contrast to the older, static, Jewish and pagan cultures. Looking at an invented conversion ritual (one moving from Judaism to Hellenism), we can begin to question the standard ideas of tradition and innovation in Late Antique religious cultures, and to see the ways that some Jews and Hellenes used Christian discourses to assert their own independence and agency.


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Affiliations: 1: University of Pennsylvania, 249 South 36th Street, 201 Logan Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States of America


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