Concepts of deity in Arnobius of Sicca in the context of the contemporary Pagan-Christian debate
Simmons, Michael Bland.
The thesis is in two parts. Part I analyses the chronological (Ch. I) and biographical (Ch. U} problems related to the date of the Adversus natiOnes and the information which JerOme provides about Arnobius' life, respectively - The writer analyses Jerome's dating of the text appearing in Chrcn. (327) and suggests this is erroneous. It to not due to mistaking 327 with Amdbius' date of death or the vicernalia of Constantine with those of Diocletian. Oral tradition might have supplied him with the date. His corrected date "sub principe Diocletiano'' may derive from Jerome's reading of Lactantius' letters written during his pagan youth. As to internal evidence, 1.26 appears to allude to events before the persecution; 4.36 is interpreted as a clear reference to the First Edict" various passages appear to allude to several of Diocletian's edicts (on adultery, incest) or policies (reduction of the provinces). Adv. nat. 2.71 does not follow the Varronian chronology because Am. and Varro differ on the parentage of Saturn (cf. Ling. lat. 5.57 and Tert., Ad nat. 2.12). The 'novasque ...poenas" of 6.11.24 refer to edicts 2 or 3 of the persecution; and the grand attack upon sacrifice, compared with (e.g.) Crispina's trial cn 5 Dec. 304 at Theveste, makes sense if it was written before the persecution in Africa had ended before toe end of 305. Hence the suggested date of the work: late 302-before the end of. 305.Ch. II evaluates the biographical information given by Jercme about Amobius. Cncmastic analysis of the name 'Amobius' suggests tost he may have been of Latin descent; he does appear to have been a rhetor, several techni¬ cal rhetorical devices being used in the work: information is given about Sicca, where he is said to have taught rhetoric; texts which may betray an African background are studied which do appear to support Jerome: interesting archaeological evidence is explored which suggests that the cult of Peter existed, at Sicca in Byzantine times, am the writer observes that Peter is the cnly Christian predecessor named in Am.: this information is analysed; Jer erne's remark that Amobius cane to Christ through dreams is analysed: on available evidence fran N. Afr. this may have really been due to visions: the story of the hesitant bishop is analysed and accepted, as also texts which strongly suggest that Amobius was actually existentlally involved in Christian worship while writing the workPart II analyses the concepts of deity held by Amobius and those of his opponents which he attacks. Ch. Ill studies under three general headings (God and man, his world, and the cosmos; God and Christ: God and the gods) toe salient features of Amobius' conception of God. The writer studies all inporLant texts related to the prob¬ lem, and concludes that Amobius does not espouse an Epicurean view of God; there is evidence which clearly es¬ tablishes the Platonic influence ipen his understanding of God, e.g., an apophatic understand-'rig; creation ideas derived from Tim 41 etc.; 'God and Christ' reveals significant Chaldaean theological parallels; and the final section shows that Am. believed in 'gods' according to Tim., but definitely not those of the myths.Ch. IV analyses the concept of divine providence found in Adv. nat. 3.24 and passages in Bock 1, which depict; God as the great Lord of toe land and of toe harvest, who makes the sun shine, who sends toe rain, and who makes the seeds fruitful. Various divine epithets used by Amobius suggest that he is aware of the conflict between the Christian Church and the cult of Saturn. The Satumian epithet frugifer appears to have been used in this manner. There is also Qyprianic influence upon Amobius' conception of divine providence, specifically derived from De bono patientiae.Ch. V is a study of Porphyry's rejection of the deity of Christ found in the Hecatean Oracle and commentary upon it (Civ. Dei 19.23) and the way in which Eusebius, Augustine, and Amobius respond to it. Porphyry argued that Christ was not divine, but only a good, and wise mortal. Amobius turns the argument against Porphyry by arguing that the pagan deities are mortal, subject to passions, and therefore perishable. He uses the Stoic concept of passions which harm toe soul (De fin. 3.x.36) to argue that (so the writer argues) Porphyry's gods in Phil. or which ware subject to such passions (FE 3ff.; Civ. Dei 8-10) are mortal. Amobius responds to Porphyry's Hecatean Oracle and commentary by developing six recapitulations of his argument that the deities are mortal in Bocks 1, and 3-7. Ch. VI continues the argument that there is an Arrpbius-Porphyry connection beyond Bock 2, which builds upon toe arguments of Kroll, Bidez, Ccurcelle, 0'Meara, Hadot, Fortin, and Wilken by demonstrating that Amobius betrays evidence that he responds to the OC, Phil. or., and De reg. an. of Porphyry. He uses the Stoic Xoyoc irpo4>opikoc and evfiia&exoc, and Pythagorean concept of justice and piety towards animals, derived, from De Abst., to attack sacrificial concepts found in Fhil. or., thus using, like Eusebius and Augustine, Porphyry against Porphyry. The ch. ends by noting possible parallels between Adv. nat. 7 and Porphyry's Abst. and Fhil. or. An epilogue (Ch. VII) suggests that Fhil. or. was disseminated, before the persecution, perhaps with toe supPGS/ABST/83 P°rt of Diocletian • s government.An epilogue (Ch. VII) suggests that Phil. or. was disseminated, before the persecution, perhaps with toe supPGS/ABST/83 Port of Diocletian's government.