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My Trip To Rome: Interested in Joining?

As I announced a few weeks ago, I will be going on a tour to Rome and other sites to the south, including Pompeii, Heraculum, Bay of Naples, Amalfi Coast on April 14-24, 2020 (six months from now!).   If you haven’t been to these places before, this would be a great opportunity!  And even if you have been before this would still be a great opportunity!  It is a very impressive itinerary.  Every informed and interesting person on the planet really should see these sites before shuffling off their mortal coil.

The tour is being sponsored by Thalassa journeys, which does a fantastic job in every way: thoughtful itineraries, great accommodations, unusually helpful tour guides.

I will be giving lectures on the tour, focusing on the relations of pagans and Christians in the early centuries of the Christian movement, as Christianity moved from being a hated and persecuted little sect to becoming the dominant religion of the empire, eventually the most powerful social, cultural, and, of course, religious movement in the history of Western civilization.  (That’s the subject of my last book The Triumph of Christianity). We will also see a number of things related to my new book, to be released by then, on the afterlife (Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife) — from the sad but startlingly real remains of people fleeing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Pompeii to art in the Christian catacombs.

But even more, we will soak up the monuments to the glories of world-empire Rome itself — the Colosseum, the Pantheon, destroyed Heracleum — and the early monuments to the burgeoning and then overwhelmingly dominant Christian church that was to replace — the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, the Basilica of Saint John Lateran — and on and on.

Here is the short blurb I wrote for the brochure about the focus of my lectures for the trip.

When Christianity arrived on the world stage in the first century CE, Rome and the Empire it founded were predominantly “pagan” – filled with a large number of polytheistic religions worshipping the Greek and Roman Gods.   On this tour we will examine how the Christian faith first came to the Italian peninsula, and especially Rome, the city destined to be the epicenter of Christianity for centuries to come.  In particular we will explore the clash of religions and cultures: between the pagan cults of Rome and the Christian church that was to become the official religion of the empire for centuries to come.

So, are you interested in coming?   It will be a small group, and I will spend the entire time not only giving lectures but hanging out with everyone, talking, answering questions, and asking a few of my own!  Here is a new version of the brochure.

https://www.thalassajourneys.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Pagans_Christians.pdf

Let em know if you have any questions; a personal email is fine:  behrman@email.unc.edu


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Comments

  1. Avatar
    Fernando Peregrin Gutierrez  October 12, 2019

    The Abbazia di Farfa (The Abbey of Farfa) is 53 km from Rome.
    At the entrance there is a sign that says:

    Visitor, if you are a Christian believer, you will feel an ecstasy in your soul to contemplate so much beauty inspired by God to pious artists.

    If you are not, you will be admired, amazed and overwhelmed by the portentous artistic creativity of man.

    http://www.abbaziadifarfa.it/storia-di-farfa.asp
    ——————————————————————————
    There is an old legend that says that every person with sensitivity and artistic passion has two homelands: his own and Italy.

  2. Avatar
    Damian King  October 12, 2019

    Hey Bart, I was wondering, when it comes to Christianity, at what time period does your expertise cease? I know you are an expert on early Christianity, but up to what time? Does your expertise no longer extend to Medieval Christianity?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 13, 2019

      I start wavering at the beginning of the fourth century and pretty much fall off the map at the end of it. And my real and solid expertise is definitely in the earliest period, up to about 150 or so.

      • Avatar
        Damian King  October 13, 2019

        Bart, I usually am interested in the history of the Catholic Church, and reviewing the patristics, I was stunned how early some of the Catholic views had developed. I see 2nd century fathers already sort of accepting the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, using Trinitarian formulas, calling themselves Catholic, showing respect to the See of Rome… I am sure you probably know what I am talking about, without any citations.

        What I wanted to ask you is this, what stops you or scholars like you, from referring to this Church or stream of Christianity, as Proto-Catholic?

        Thanks

        • Bart
          Bart  October 14, 2019

          I suppose you could. I’m not sure about the “real presence” or “Trinitarian formulas” though. I suppose “Proto” would cover it. The second century views certainly led to later CAtholic views. But they also led to later contrary views (e.g., on the Trinity, and the eucharist). “CAtholic” of course, simple means “universal” — so it’s just a claim to be the form of “all” Christianity. Rome’s authority of course was not widely conceded for most of the second century.

          • Avatar
            Damian King  October 14, 2019

            Well Bart, no doubt you personally read more diverse patritics, but there are some quotes from early fathers that I was surprised to see how close they are to Catholic doctrines.

            Here is a quote from Tertullian about the Trinity that I probably had in mind above:
            “”We define that there are two, the Father and the Son, and three with the Holy Spirit, and this number is made by the pattern of salvation . . . [which] brings about unity in trinity, interrelating the three, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are three, not in dignity, but in degree, not in substance but in form, not in power but in kind. They are of one substance and power, because there is one God from whom these degrees, forms and kinds devolve in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” (Adv. Prax. 23; PL 2.156-7).”

            And this quote about the real presence from Ignatius that struck me:

            “They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness, raised from the dead.” Letter to the Smyrnaeans”, paragraph 6. circa 80-110 A.D.

            So, these type of quotes are what made me ask that question. I mean, you could say that this was a Proto-Catholic stream of Christianity. Wouldn’t that be correct?

          • Bart
            Bart  October 15, 2019

            Ah, yes. They do seem close. But later fathers found these statements hopelessly simplistic and problematic precisely because the terms were not well enough defined. Have you read my book How Jesus Became God? I deal with all that there. But there are obviously far more sophisticated treatments for anyone who wants to dig deep. One place to start is the work of Lewis Ayres.

  3. Avatar
    Judith  October 13, 2019

    It is going to be too good to miss!!!

    • Bart
      Bart  October 13, 2019

      HA! Then don’t miss it! And bring all your family, friends, and neighbors!

      • Avatar
        Judith  November 2, 2019

        Are you serious? Because Patrick wants to go!

        • Bart
          Bart  November 3, 2019

          Yes, Patrick should definitely come. And everyone else you know! But especially Patrick.

    • Avatar
      TimKendrick  October 14, 2019

      We’re considering it as well Judith. We just have to see if we can arrange our schedule around it. But it would be good if we get a few of us going from the Israel trip.

  4. Spencer Black
    Spencer Black  October 15, 2019

    Would love to go!

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