• Contesting the legacy and patronage of Saint Cyprian in Vandal Carthage

    David Lee Riggs (see profile)
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    The Vandal period of African Christianity has long existed as a sort of Dark Ages in which the primary narratives of the Church are flush with persecution, exile, and destruction. Nevertheless, a notable surge of interest in the history of the Vandals in recent decades has prompted revisionist work that has broadened the purview of scholarship well beyond the paradigm Victor of Vita offers. Amid such work, the state-supported Homoian Church has begun to emerge as something more than a one-dimensional body of heretical barbarian persecutors. Some recent studies have highlighted how the Homoian Church sought to establish itself as a genuinely ‘African’ communion that appealed to a broad cross-section of the population. Along these lines, this study explores a selection of homilies from three anonymous preachers of the Vandal period (a Homoian bishop and two Nicene clerics) which provide a first-hand glimpse into an ecclesial rivalry in which both churches sought to leverage the legacy and authority of Saint Cyprian as each strived to establish its communion as the rightful heir of the African Christian tradition. As this study offers fresh testimony to our understanding of religious life in Vandal Carthage, it will ultimately contend that conventional characterisations of the Vandal kingdom as an era of decline and persecution for African Christianity must yield to interpretations that are more attentive to the growing evidence for the prosperity, credibility, and popularity of the Homoian church in North Africa.
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    8 months ago
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