Religions in Conflict: From Polemics to Wars (Late Antiquity - 18th Century)
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Reading the Ancients: Remnants of Byzantine Controversies in the Greek National Narrative

Effie Gazi, University of Thessaly

The paper explores the complex relation of the concepts “Hellenism” and “Christianity” in modern Greece by primarily focusing on discursive shifts and connotative processes that surround the emergence and articulation of the “helleno-christian civilization.” It defines the reading of ancient Greek philosophy as of primary importance in a set of cultural politics that aimed at the reconciliation of pagan thought and Christian metaphysics and at the formation of a canon that ruled their relation. It primarily focuses on the image of the Church Fathers of the 4th century as both ideal readers of the ancients and as gate-keepers of Christian Orthodoxy. In this vein, the paper discusses the ways 11th century Byzantine controversies and polemics over the place of ancient thought in the curriculum of Christian education re-emerged and became re-interpreted in the process of the development of national ideology. Main argument of the paper is that critical aspects of the Greek national narrative lie upon constant conceptual metamorphoses that incorporate older symbolic capital in a new setting and make possible the close intersection of ethnicity and religion.

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