Ben C. Smith wrote: ↑
Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:23 pm
MrMacSon wrote: ↑
Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:06 pm
And Rüpke also made a lot of the Shepherd of Hermas and a few other texts ...
I really must make it a point to get a better handle on the Shepherd of Hermas someday. I really have very little idea of where it might fit in to the overall scheme of things.
You've motivated me to see and collate what Jörg Rüpke said about Hermas in Pantheon
, 2018 (something I've been meaning to do for a while)
Rüpke first refers to Hermas as a visionary in a subsection in chapter 8, 4, sub-titled 'Places Where Religion Was Experienced', -
Chapter VIII. Lived Religion
4. Places Where Religion Was Experienced
... it was only in rare cases that households reserved a domestic space exclusively for religious communication, such as occurred in the Panayia Domus at Corinth. When they did so, they referenced those signs in the public realm that helped to sacralize spaces, giving them durable form and a special status; paramount among these public spaces was the “temple,” to which we must turn our attention before we return again to the home.
In the temples of Iron Age Italy, the relevant signs included especially lavish architectural decoration, a high podium, roof figures, and grotesque masks at the eaves ...
That the public temple was itself a location for intense religious experience is suggested by the acerbic critiques of the philosophers Lucius Annaeus Seneca and Plutarch, in their treatises On superstitions
, to which I have already referred. They were troubled by religious experiences that exceeded the bounds of social control ... individual religious practice could amount to deviance, and might occasion general mockery. As in the case of Aristides, it might not meet with the approval of temple personnel or be acceptable to other temple visitors.
Private cult spaces also came under critical scrutiny. From Late Antiquity onward, what was no more than suggested in Cicero’s polemic on the sacrarium of the conspirator Lucius Sergius Catilina led to a conflict that, owing to power relations in the real world, was never resolved. In one camp were those who claimed that ecclesiastical institutions should have sole control of religious spaces; in the other were proponents of the intensification of religious communication that could be experienced by private individuals on their own premises. It was precisely by adopting elements of the public formal vernacular of sacral space that designers of domestic structures could reproduce the sacral character of spaces in private contexts. Choir screens then no longer served to differentiate ritual spaces and to guide processions, but merely lent to the domestic setting something of the special character of an episcopal basilica. A temple facade might feature as domestic mural decoration or as the motif on an urn, so as to indicate a domestic space intended primarily for religious activity.
Inscriptions on temple walls or on free-standing stelae allowed those who commissioned or directed religious communication to report on the success of their endeavors. Often they told of claimed personal appearances by deities, and frequently, although not always, those appearances took place in dreams. A variety of deities were accessible in this way, and to achieve the requisite vision it was not necessary to visit a temple and sleep there, as was the custom in such places as Epidaurus. One could dream, as a rule, in one’s own bedroom (cubiculum
). This form of communication might be quite intense, as we learn from the orator and Asclepius-worshipper Aelius Aristides. In his Hieroi logoi
, he reports the commissioning of a silver tripod and its associated dedicatory inscription; but he also relates that the third and fourth lines of the inscription were corrected by the god himself shortly before morning. After awakening, Aristides repeated the lines until he had committed them to memory. His account continues: “After this, when we took counsel in common about the dedication, it seemed best to us, the priest and the temple wardens, to dedicate it in the Temple of Zeus Asclepius.… And the inscription is inscribed, and it has been added that it is from a dream. I also dedicated to Olympian Zeus the inscription and another dedication, so that the oracle was in every way fulfilled
An almost contemporary visionary in the city of Rome, describing himself in his writings as Hermas, reports having important visions not only on lonely roads or at workplaces remote from the city, but also in his own bedroom.78
It may well be that he mentioned this last, familiar locale in order to gain credibility, for in the same text he presents a rather remarkable array of visions and apocalyptic revelations, and the apparition he describes has no fixed place in tradition.
Rüpke, Jörg. Pantheon: A New History of Roman Religion
(pp. 226-229). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.
78. Shepherd of Hermas 8.1, 9.1.
He then refers to Hermas as a ''seer'' who released an apocalyptic text “revelatory” of the occult, similar to the “Sybilline books,” and apocalypses such as 4 Ezra, Enoch, and the Apocalypse of St. John, -
Chapter X. Experts and Providers
: the First to Third Centuries AD
4. Prophetesses and Visionaries
... anonymous or pseudonymous authors in the eastern Mediterranean wrote oracular texts, “Sybilline books,” and apocalypses such as 4 Ezra, Enoch, and the Apocalypse of St. John, all of them with a clearly anti-Roman bent, just as their predecessors had had an anti-Hellenistic bent. Their authors were likely members of the former elite, who no longer shared in governing and now therefore branded the regime with the stigma of foreign rule. In order to be rid of unwanted but authoritative texts such as these, Augustus and Tiberius examined and burned thousands of them. But a substantial number were back in circulation by the time of the Great Fire of Rome in 64.56
A similarly apocalyptic text “revelatory” of the occult, far less radical but all the more popular, made its advent in Rome shortly before the middle of the second century. It was a substantial text, released in several stages (probably because of continuing demand), and the author—if, that is, we are to believe the first-person narrator (and he set store by being believed)—was the Hermas briefly mentioned above (Ch. 8.4). This Hermas faced the problem shared by every “seer”: how to make his message credible as authentic revelation. The problem was all the more acute for an author who was not backed by an institution, such as a shrine of Asclepius or an oracle. And, if his text was destined merely to be read, he even had to forgo the impact of his own persuasive presence as a speaker. It was for this reason that the eponymous John of the Apocalypse, in what was a slightly older text, identified with a probably real name, also supported his claimed authority on prophetic tradition and astrology. Hermas, on the other hand, began on a more aggressively autobiographical note, even down to his frailties and details of his living and working environment.
He then developed the idea of apocalypse stage by stage on the basis of contemporary contemporary reflections concerning the possibility of divination by visions.59
This author allows us a rare insight into the problems of visionary communication in the presence of others.60
In the spirit of contemporary philosophical tracts, Hermas’s text is evidently targeted at individual listeners and readers, to whom he offers the possibility of self-development. It was to this end that he initially sought entry to institutional settings, so as to have his text read out as a heavenly missive within a circle of presbyteroi
He perhaps used another circle to admonish one Maximus, known to his audience.62
A woman called Grapte was to read the text out to widows and orphans, and a Clement to disseminate it in letter form.63
That recipients urged the author on to ever new visions, copied his work, and quickly translated it into Latin and the languages of Syria and Egypt demonstrates the success of this reading therapy aimed at individual transformation within the “congregation” (ekklesia
), and at both spiritual and behavioral change (metanoia
). Only occasionally does the author allow the reader to see that he is thinking of followers of Christ, who know what a Sybil is, but perceive her as something other. Other than whom? Hermas assumed that his first hearers and readers were familiar with Roman institutions, such as the military, and with Italic economy and agriculture. Critical, however, was their being “citizens”.64
As was typical for citizens of an empire, Hermas’s audience already had what amounted to double citizenship. They were at the very least inhabitants of Rome, and Hermas was now trying to awaken them to a further relationship with a heavenly city, an alternative to the Jerusalem that was definitively lost. Contemporary texts from the eastern Mediterranean urged their readers to foresee Rome’s apocalyptic destruction, which they themselves as individuals might bring about by adopting a new lifestyle.65
As opposed to the fantasies he spun for his audiences in distant provinces, Hermas had also to address an audience that lived in this very Rome, and beheld with wonder an infrastructure recast in flawless marble by the Flavians.66
So, in the images he uses, he relies not on that other city, but on an architectural feature that was universally conceivable in perfect or (at least) perfectible form: a tower. He gives his female oracular figure a Roman magisterial throne, and has her accompanied by six youths after the fashion of official attendants.67 These were not end-time alternatives, but mental images, conceptions to be nurtured in the here and now.
56. Cass. Dio 57.18.4–5. Fire of Rome: 62.18.3.
57. Satake 2008, 126; Malina 2002; see Taeger and Bienert 2006, 162–63.
58. Osiek 1999, 24; Rüpke 2013b.
59. Rüpke 2005b.
60. On the following see Gordon 2013b.
61. Shepherd of Hermas 8.3.
62. Shepherd 7.4; see Leutzsch 1989, 70–71.
63. Shepherd 8.3.
64. Lieu 2004, 243. Cf. Cicero, On the laws 2.5, and the discussions of the Alexandrian Jews in Josephus, Against Apion 2.6, and Diognetus 5–6.
65. Apocalypse 17–18; 4 Esra 11–12; Sibylline Oracles 5.408–27; Jones 2011.
66. On the Flavians: Boyle and Dominik 2003; cf. Rüpke 2012i for a somewhat earlier text in Rome, and Nasrallah 2010 for eastern Mediterranean cities. Cf., on the other hand, modes of reference in John’s Apocalypse, Karrer 2012.
67. Shepherd 9 (visio 3.1), 4, and vis 1.4.1 and 3; vis 3.1.6 and 10.1.
In referring to urbanisation in the Roman empire in antiquity and things like religion as "a field of learning" and of knowledge, and "religious communication free from particular sites and appointed times", -
Chapter X. Experts and Providers
: the First to Third Centuries AD
Heroic journeys away from rural marginality or slave status might give those affected a taste and desire for recognition. Such a member of the old elites as Petronius might accordingly in his Satyricon ridicule the freedman Trimalchio. But such careers as Trimalchio’s remained models for many, even if the prospects envisaged might frequently enough prove unrealistic. High expectations might also easily tip over into a sense of self-empowerment, confidence that anything was possible. A visionary like Hermas might not delay in having his first book of visions copied for the export market.[101, Shepherd of Hermas 8.3]
, (p. 323)
Chapter XII. Demarcations and Modes of Community
: The Third to Fourth Centuries AD
2. Political Actors
... exegetical techniques...served to prepare speakers in both religious and nonreligious contexts for tasks such as the delivery of “homilies,” sermons. There was also the issue, as Hermas had shown, of how to reveal religious knowledge to individual readers of both sexes; for the battle between good and evil was above all an internal one, requiring intensive practice. To this end, a constant stream of new texts provided material that flowed into networks removed from any kind of control by institutions. People who read such texts were referred to as gnostics (those having knowledge) or Hermetics (followers of Hermes); but there were no groups that bore such names. This absence of named groups is shared with Neoplatonism, which was the first system to provide the polytheistic traditions of antiquity with a theoretical underpinning that could stand on an equal footing in rational discourse with the tradition of (especially Platonic and Stoic) “philosophy,” and its reception by Jewish-monotheistic thinkers (beginning with Philo in Alexandria in the first century AD).
Rüpke even refers to Hermas in discussing cultural practices and literary traditions in the mid 4th century -
Chapter XII. Demarcations and Modes of Community
: The Third to Fourth Centuries AD
3. The Treatment of Differences
Others elsewhere were attempting, as in the case of the codex of 354, to combine new traditions with elite cultural practices, and so render them productive for the formation of the same elite—not only in the realm of philosophy, and not only in Rome.74
The presbyter Gaius Vettius Aquilinus Iuvencus...liv[
in Spain, in the south of one of the most strongly Romanized provinces ... was still working on a version of the gospels in four verse
volumes in the final years of Constantine.75
In his preface, Iuvencus quite explicitly situates himself within the Greco-Latin epic tradition, the lineage of Homer and Virgil ... he claim[
to offer the “sure basis for faith” (certa fides
) that is provided by the deeds of Christ: this in the place of lies about the deeds of humans. Iuvencus regarded poetic activity as a religious act that would figure in his life’s final reckoning. The same motive, ...also central to the reception of Hermas, was responsible for the copying and writing of further biblical epics, and inspired the numerous acts of martyrs.
The work’s four books constituted a biography that followed the basic line of Matthew’s gospel, complemented by parts of Luke and John (Mark’s gospel was still scarcely read at this time).76
Contrary to the later assertion by the canonic expert Jerome, in writing a work in four volumes Iuvencus was not modelling his narrative on any canon, but rather on the classic model of the day’s limits, the onsets of night and sunrise. Ivencus even sought a heroic tone for his versification by recasting his prose models.
In a literary subculture, such an opus was a gamble, and indeed it found no direct imitators for the next hundred years. Even when they did at last make an appearance, they modelled themselves on Iuvencus, no longer on Virgil. But the narrative retreated further and further into the background, while interpretation of the subtext came to the fore. The defining of a theological position was now regarded as a more appropriate source of distinction than using high-value texts to win over members of an upper class that had, in any case, by the fifth century, long adopted piecemeal the Christian paradigm.
74. Cf. Leppin 2012, 260, on the phase of “neutralization” in the context of his conception of a process of Christianization.
75. Brief biography in Jer. Vir. Ill. 84. For full coverage of the following, Rüpke 2012a, 233–44. See also Flieger 1993.
76. See Stökl Ben Ezra 2012.