B Introduction
dale b. martin
Late ancient studies as a relatively discrete discipline is a recent invention.
Only since the 1970s have scholars, who in a previous generation might have
identified themselves as classicists, church historians, Roman historians, or
patristics scholars, come to identify themselves as scholars of ‘‘late antiq-
uity.’’ But more has changed than just the name. The methods of analysis—
both historiographical and literary—of the period (itself newly delineated
within academic discourse), its characters and texts, have also changed sig-
nificantly. The essays in this volume, concentrating for the sake of coherence
mainly on Christianity in late antiquity, exemplify those changes.∞
A New Discipline
‘‘Late ancient studies’’ designates the study of the civilizations clustered
mainly around the Mediterranean from the period between roughly 100 and
700 c.e. The earlier terminus is intended to indicate that New Testament
history and literature lie outside the purview of late ancient studies. Although
some New Testament scholars publish on noncanonical early Christian texts
and even non-Christian materials of later periods, the field of New Testa-
ment studies has its own scholarly organs and identity markers: journals,
associations, job descriptions. Late ancient studies generally leaves the New
Testament and earliest Christian history (for example, the historical Jesus or
the social organization of Pauline communities) to others and begins where
the study of New Testament history and literature leaves o√.
The latter terminus (700 c.e.), on the other hand, is less firm. When
Peter Brown published The World of Late Antiquity, one of the first books that
helped define the new field, he added ‘‘ad 150–750’’ to the title. Averil
Cameron, on the other hand, entitled one of her books, with an admittedly
narrower focus, The Mediterranean World in Late Antiquity, ad 395–600. But we
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