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Peasant and Empire in Christian North Africa$
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Leslie Dossey

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780520254398

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520254398.001.0001

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Preaching to Peasants

Preaching to Peasants

(p.147) 6 Preaching to Peasants
Peasant and Empire in Christian North Africa

Leslie Dossey

University of California Press

The late fourth and early fifth centuries were in many respects revolutionary times for North Africa because of the gradual transformations of local power structures. Historians have studied many of the mechanisms that may have brought about these changes, but rarely the transformative power of public speaking. It would be impossible to write a history of the end of the Roman Republic without Cicero's orations. Yet histories of the fourth and fifth centuries are frequently written with little reference to the most widely diffused form of public speaking Greco-Roman society produced: the Christian sermon. This is particularly regrettable because bishops possessed few means of acquiring influence other than by their voices. This chapter discusses how clerical communication penetrated more deeply in Africa than is often imagined. By studying the anonymous North African sermons, historians can glean something of its substance.

Keywords:   North Africa, public speaking, Christian sermon, bishops, political change, clerical communication

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