Frank R Trqmbley

Asia Minor was a region ofbroad religious diversity in the time of the Tetrarchy and afterwards, under the successor regimes established by Licinius, Constan-tine and his sons (284-361). Significant communities of Jews and Christians populated its cities and their territories amid the great pagan Greek majority. Christians were a tiny minority c. 300, perhaps 5 to 10 per cent in most cities except in some places like Nicomedia and Eumeneia, and in villages throughout Phrygia, where large numbers lived.1 Its institutional expansion is reflected in the fact that, in 325, the representatives of some 150 episcopal sees in Asia Minor attended the Council of Nicaea. This posed a serious ideological challenge to the pagan temple cults of Asia Minor. Their priesthoods were filled by city councillors who had accrued great wealth from their agricultural estates. The ancestral cults of the agricultural cycle were considered the basis for preserving the 'peace of the gods', whose chief manifestation lay in the regularity of the forces of nature; their neglect was thought to cause the meteorological catastrophes that periodically damaged agricultural production. A decree of the emperor Maximinus Daia in 312 sums up this theological argument in some detail.2

Education in grammar, rhetoric and the Greek paideia provided an ideological basis for the city councillors' religious opinions; it was a key factor in their resistance to Christian ideas, particularly where the conflicting theologies gave rival interpretations of particular questions, such as the divine nature, cosmogony and ethics. The importance of the Greek paideia is particularly evident in the writings of Themistius, who taught rhetoric in Ancyra in the mid-fourth century, but also in many Christian inscriptions.3

The fourth century marked a critical transition in relations between pagans and Christians in Asia Minor. The eastern emperors of the second Tetrarchy,

1 T. Drew-Bear, ed., Nouvelles inscriptions, no. 48, etc.

2 A. D. Lee, Pagans and Christians, 77f.

3 SEG 6, no. 17; SEG 27, no. 847; W Jaeger, Early Christianity and Greek paideia.

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