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There Is No Crime for Those Who Have ChristReligious Violence in the Christian Roman Empire$
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Michael Gaddis

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520241046

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520241046.001.0001

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An Eye for an Eye

An Eye for an Eye

Religious Violence in Donatist Africa

Chapter:
(p.103) 3. An Eye for an Eye
Source:
There Is No Crime for Those Who Have Christ
Author(s):

Michael Gaddis

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520241046.003.0004

This chapter returns to North Africa, the scene of violent struggle between the schismatic Donatists and the state-sponsored Catholics. It explores both how the Donatists sought to present themselves as the “Church of the Martyrs,” facing persecution from a Constantinian regime they believed to be Christian in name only, and also how Optatus, Augustine, and other bishops of the Catholic camp attempted to undermine Donatist claims to religious legitimacy by focusing on the violent conduct of the Circumcellions, Donatism's militant wing. The Donatist emphasis on martyrdom was sufficiently strong to produce on occasion behavior that others might regard as suicidal. The collapse of Donatism can be traced to the failure of the “Church of the Martyrs” to co-opt the power of that same state that it saw as “persecutor”.

Keywords:   religious violence, North Africa, Donatists, Catholics, Optatus, Augustine, Circumcellions, Donatism, Church of the Martyrs

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