Non-Fiction Books:

Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity

Studies in Text Transmission


Paperback / softback

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Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity by Dirk Rohmann
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Only a small fraction of ancient literature survivesaless than one percent,estimates reveal. While the reasons vary, it is an irony that Christianity, often regarded as responsible for the proliferation and spread of books and book culture, was likewise active in suppressing and destroying books in Late Antiquity. Author Dirk Rohmann assembles the evidence for the role playedin book-burningby Christian institutions, writers,and saints duringtheRoman Empire.Rohmannanalyzes a broad range of literary and legal sources, paying special attention towhich genres and book types were likely to be targeted. Rohmann concludes that, in addition to heretical, magical, astrological,and anti-Christian books, other less obviously subversive categories of literature were also vulnerable to destruction and censorshipthrough prohibition ofmanuscriptcopying. These texts included worksfrom materialistic philosophical traditions, texts that were to become the basis for modern philosophy and science. Whilebook-burning functioned as a recognized cultural practice, and Rohmann acknowledges the wide variety of motivations at work in the various practices of censorship, he ultimately asks to what extent Christian book-burning and accompanying practices negatively affected the survival of pagan and pre-Christian literary and philosophical texts. Christianity's rejection, even obliteration, of booksaso contrary to its own worldviewatestifies both to the perilous nature of texts in transmission as well astothe enduring cultural and ideological power of the written word.

Author Biography

Dirk Rohmann is Lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Wuppertal.
Release date NZ
October 1st, 2017
Country of Publication
United States
Baylor University Press
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