Imperial Religion versus Local Beliefs
Academic Year April 2021 - March 2022
The second academic year will address the implementation and function of imperial religions (Imperial cult, mono-religious Christian Late Antiquity, multi-religious Islamic societies), focusing on the relationship between state authority and religion. We will question what forms of local religious practice remained, despite the dominance of eastern salvation religions, and what forms changed as a result. In the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, pagan cults continued into the 4th century. Christianization was accompanied by the formation of heresies such as Priscillianism. In general, the new religion’s institutionalization was a slow process, and not until the end of the 6th century were metropolitan orders developed. This contrasted with North Africa; Cyprian of Carthage was, for example, the only bishop in the west to challenge the primacy of the urban Roman order, and from him Stephanus of Rome acquired the doctrine of Petrine primacy. The differences behind such radically different developments continued into the Islamic period. Christianity retained its significance on the Iberian Peninsula but faded from North Africa, despite arguments that traces remained longer (10th/11th century) than traditionally assumed. Islam and its elites did not need as the religion of the state an exclusive position. While Ifriqiya was controlled by the Islamic empire, “heterodox” forms of Islam such as Khārijiyya und Ibāḍiyya became established in other parts of North Africa, which were no longer integrated into the Islamic Empire. This questions how far Crones’ 2012 argument regarding “Nativist Prophets” can be transferred to the west, e.g., in relation to the revolt of the muwalladūn under ʿUmar ibn Ḥafṣūn in the 9th century, and how control through religion in the periphery of Malikite Iberia can be characterized.