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Classifying Christians"Ethnography, Heresiology, and the Limits of Knowledge in Late Antiquity"$
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Todd S. Berzon

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520284265

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520284265.001.0001

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Writing People, Writing Religion

(p.1) Introduction
Classifying Christians

Todd S. Berzon

University of California Press

This introductory chapter explains that Christian theology—and a belief in the fundamental unity of the human species—was the foundation of European ethnology and ethnography. Shrouded in the language of evolution and devolution, the science of religion was guided by the comparison of ethnographic and hermeneutical data. The chapter examines how Christians harnessed the vernacular of ethnography, and states that the book shows how ethnography functioned within heresiological literature as a tool for organizing or disorganizing sects. Focusing on one set of Christian ethnographers, the book presents the writings of six heresiologists: Irenaeus of Lyons (ca. 130–202 C.E.), Hippolytus of Rome (170–235 C.E.), Tertullian of Carthage (ca. 160–220 C.E.), Epiphanius of Salamis (ca. 315–403 C.E.), Augustine of Hippo (354–430 C.E.), and Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393–457 C.E.).

Keywords:   Christian theology, European ethnology, ethnography, heresiologists, Irenaeus of Lyons, Hippolytus of Rome, Tertullian of Carthage, Epiphanius of Salamis, Augustine of Hippo, Theodoret of Cyrrhus

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