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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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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 29 June 2022

From Ethnography to List

From Ethnography to List

Transcribing and Traversing Heresy

(p.218) 7 From Ethnography to List
Classifying Christians

Todd S. Berzon

University of California Press

This chapter turns to Augustine's De haeresibus to examine how he confronts not only the textual possibilities and limitations of epistemological representation, but also the theoretical capacity to comprehend his heretical environs. Through intertextual reading, research, and personal experience, Augustine edited the work of his predecessors and contemporaries into a limited heresiological handbook. By explicitly adding and subtracting heretics, Augustine presented his text as a polemical palimpsest of ethnographic knowledge. But although Augustine insisted on his vast knowledge of the heretics, he readily admitted to falling short. What is particularly revealing about Augustine and his text is the precise manner in which he framed his limitations, not simply as a collector of abstract knowledge but as a living, practicing heresiologist. For Augustine, the limitations of heresiology were insurmountable because they were fundamentally ethnographic.

Keywords:   Augustine, De haeresibus, heresiology, heretical environs, ethnographic knowledge, heretics

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