1) Was the demise of paganism inevitable?
2) What were the main turning points in the conflict between paganism and Christianity?
3) How did Romans view the gods of other peoples?
4) Did syncretism allow for enrolling all gods of the Roman world as imperial protectors? Why? Why not?
5) Why did Roman emperors seek to link themselves with the many gods of the empire? What was the impact of associating the emperor with local gods?
6) What do funerary monuments and inscriptions reveal about pagan conceptions of the divine and the afterlife? How were such monuments expressions of social rank and membership in the ruling circles rather than mere expressions of piety?
7) What was the nature of pagan prayer, and what did pagans expect from their gods? How do votive offerings reveal pagan religious sensibilities?
8) How did pagans tend to define piety? How is this different from Christian conceptions?
9) What led peoples of the Roman Empire to venerate or worship the emperor? Was this an act of political loyalty or belief?
10) How did Jews perceive the imperial cult? In what ways could they accommodate themselves to it, and what objections would they raise against its practices?
11) What were the specific appeals of the cults classified as mystery cults? How did they differ from civic and family cults? Did any of these cults offer a distinctively different vision of the divine from traditional paganism?
12) How did the Romans accept new gods? Did the Romans have a sense of religious conflict? Why did the Romans regulate the actions of worshipers but never rites and belief?
13) In the imperial age, how did senators and equestrians adapt Stoic principles to conduct a moral life as a governing class devoted to traditional worship? How did they in fluence the very nature of imperial government?
14) On what grounds did pagan philosophers reject Christianity?
15) What was the impact of Nero’s persecution of the Christians in 64 AD?
16) How did Romans typically view Christians in the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D.? Mention some primary authors.
17) What motivated Romans, and pagans in general, to compel Christians to sacrifice?
18) What does Pliny the Younger reveal about the imperial government’s aims in persecuting Christians? Was this a priority at that time?
19) What main difference existed between the persecutions up to the time of Emperor Decius, and the persecutions begun under his reign?
20) How did pagan criticisms of Christianity change over the course of the 2nd and 3rd centuries? What were the most popular charges raised by pagans? What were the most damaging? What does this criticism reveal about pagan acquaintance with Christians and Christian doctrine?
21) How did apologists adapt classical genres to create defenses of the faith?
22) What was the impact of the apologists on Christian self-definition?
23) What was the impact of the Catechetical School of Alexandria?
24) How did political and military crises transform pagan perceptions of the gods and the Roman emperor?
25) Why would pagans likely not reject the ancestral gods in a crisis? Why would pagans become impatient with Christian refusal to sacrifice to the gods or the genius of the Roman emperor?
26) What are the sources for arguments of spiritual crisis and a loss of faith in traditional gods after 235? What are the dangers in surmising explanations based on modern analogies?
27) By what means could emperors enforce empire wide compliance of sacrificing to the gods and the spirit of the emperor?
28) What are the sources for pagan religious experiences in the 3rd century? How has the paucity of sources led to scholarly misunderstanding? Why is it misleading to take a lack of sources for a lack of belief?
29) How did Manichaeism pose a challenge to both pagans and Christians? What accounted for the remarkable success of Manichaean missionaries?
30) What has accounted for the debate over the conversion of Constantine? Explain the contours of this debate.
31) How did Constantine’s conversion decisively change the course of the conflict between pagans and Christians?
32) What was the impact of the dedication of Constantinople as a Christian capital? How did pagans react to this change? What was the opinion of the pagan senators at Rome?
33) Why would Christians and pagans alike see the Council of Nicaea as a veritable miracle? What did Constantine hope to achieve by summoning the council? What were the consequences of the council?
34) How important were charity and Christian festivals in winning over city populations? How did these activities differ from earlier pagan ones?
35) What does St. Augustine say about the Roman’s desire for glory? How did it serve a useful function for them? What sort of rewards did they receive from it?
36) How did Christian emperors promote missions to the peoples beyond the imperial frontiers? How did a sense of Christian commonwealth come into being? What was the historical significance of this new perception?
37) How did Christian thinkers and writers create a literature distinct from Greek and Latin pagan texts? What authors and genres were favored? How did this literary development ensure Christians of cultural leadership in the Roman world?
38) What were the long-term prospects of Julian’s laws if he had won in Persia and ruled for 30 years?
39) Why were Christian emperors cautious in their religious policy from 363–379? What were the limits of imperial power in enforcing religious conformity?
40) Consider St. Augustine’s disagreement with Cicero’s definition of a commonwealth. Do you think justice plays an essential role in the idea of a political community? What do you think of Augustine’s rejection of this view?
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