Conversion as Soul Searching and Add-on conversion
"Constantine and conversion to Christianity" by Claire Sotinel
This paper is not concerned with Constantine’s conversion, but with imperial understanding of conversion of the Roman empire in the 4th and 5th centuries. According to the Actus Sylvestri, a famous hagiographical text written during the first half of 5th century, Constantine, converted to Christianity after being cured from lepra, decides to encourage the rest of the population’s conversion through coercive laws. Such laws did not exist in Constantinian Rome, no more than the fight against the dragon, the slayer of small children or Constantine’s lepra. Nonetheless, the text deserves to be taken seriously: what views on conversion does it document? How is it connected to actual imperial policy in Late Antique Rome? The paper will explore transformations, from the views expressed on conversion to Christianity in Constantinian time (Lactantius, Eusebius, Constantine himself) to the Actus Sylvestri, a text which became widely read in the West in the sixth century.
Prof. Claire Sotinel is Full Professor of Roman History at the Department of History of the University of Paris-Est Créteil and head of the Centre de Recherche en Histoire Européenne Comparée. She was a member of the Ecole française de Rome (1990-1994) and got her PhD in Late Antique Studies at the University of Paris Sorbonne. Her research focuses on Italy in Late Antiquity (4th-6th). Recently, she published the book "Rome, la fin d’un Empire. De Caracalla à Théodoric, 212-fin du Ve siècle" (Belin, 2020).
"Conversion to Islam in late antique and early medieval North Africa" by Christian C. Sahner
This brief presentation will explore some of the earliest Islamic missionary movements among the Berbers of North Africa (ca. 7th-10th c. CE), including Umayyad missionaries, Ibāḍī ḥamalat al-ʿilm, Muʿtazilī duʿāt, and Ismāʿīlī duʿāt. It will also comment on the gradual erosion of Christianity in the region and contrast this with the experience of conversion to Islam in other predominantly Christian regions of the early Islamic world.
Prof. Christian C. Sahner is Associate Professor of Islamic History at the University of Oxford and a fellow of St Cross College. His work explores the transition from Late Antiquity to the Islamic Middle Ages; relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, especially Christians and Zoroastrians; and the interconnected histories of Syria, Iran, and the Islamic West. His most recent book is "Conversion to Islam in the Premodern Age" (University of California Press, 2020, co-edited), and he is at work on a new project investigating the history of religions and revolutionary movements in remote, inaccessible regions of the medieval Islamic world, above all mountains.