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Title: Prayer in Earliest Christianity in the Context of the Graeco-Roman World
Contributor(s): Milroy, Leon Francis (author); Franzmann, Majella (supervisor)
Conferred Date: 2001
Copyright Date: 2000
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: By the fourth century CE Christianity had grown throughout the Roman Empire to rival paganism and was about to finally replace it. The Roman Senator, Symmachus, when he was Prefect of Rome in 384 CE, wrote a plea to Emperor Valentinian II on behalf of the Senators who still clung to their pagan heritage for tolerance of the old pagan Roman state religion. This was an appeal for the restoration of the Altar of Victory in the Senate, which had become a symbol of the official state cults. He wrote: "It is reasonable that whatever each of us worships is really to be considered one and the same. We gaze up at the same stars, the sky covers us all, the same universe compasses us. What does it matter what practical system we adopt in our search for the truth? Not by one avenue only can we arrive at so tremendous a secret. But this is the kind of case for men to put with time on their hands; at the moment it is prayers that we present to you, not debating arguments." Symmachi Relationes 3.10. In a sense it is a plea that the Emperor regard each of the religions of his empire as worthy of practice, not just the new political force of Christianity. In this thesis I take Symmachus' plea seriously and present the prayer forms in earliest Christianity in the Graeco-Roman context, investigating how they have been influenced by religions and their associated prayer forms, that were present in the Roman Empire prior to the time of Symmachus' plea, and how they differ from them. By influence I mean how the practices of the prayer forms of other religions at the time of earliest Christianity set a pattern. They set a pattern with regard to types of prayer, forms of prayer, attitude and posture of prayer, places and times of prayer, community prayer and public and private prayer and certain customs practised before during and after prayer, and were a guide for the development of some of the prayer forms in earliest Christianity. Underlying the physical forms, influence also relates to ideas about the deities, ideas about humans and ideas about how communication can be held between humans and deities.
Publication Type: Thesis Masters Research
Rights Statement: Copyright 2000 - Leon Francis Milroy
HERDC Category Description: T1 Thesis - Masters Degree by Research
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