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Gibbon, to his credit, at least attempted to address this contradiction, but his solution - that zealous Christians provoked tolerant authorities - amounts to little more than 'blame the victim'.44 There is an even more serious lacuna. While intellectuals on both sides might well have perceived irreconcilable differences in the two religious systems, there is abundant evidence for others who thought a via media could be found: Christians who were more than ready to make their peace with pagan neighbours, as well as pagans who were shocked and repelled by the coercive measures taken against Christians.45 One important point was lost in the haze of preconceived notions: pagan eloquence only starts to devote itself to the subject of toleration in the aftermath of the establishment of Christianity, and when it is put to this service it draws largely on Christian argument to do so.46

It is not so much that intolerance is wrong as an explanation as that it is insufficient. It rests on theological arguments, and even as a theological argument it is incomplete, for it does not attempt to explain how a religion whose most revolutionary commandment is to return hatred with love, and which fostered a strong tradition that true belief could not be coerced, was unable to find a more pluralistic path to success. The canons of the fourth-century Council of Elvira are suggestive in two ways: first, because bans the bishops place on sharing fine clothing with pagan neighbours and attending public sacrifices show that Christians of a certain status were interacting quite comfortably with pagan neighbours - more comfortably, indeed, than the bishops found acceptable. Second, and most significant, the bishops also refused to sanction militancy, denying the title of martyr to those who die in attacks on pagan temples 'because we find it written nowhere in the Gospels nor ever done by the Apostles' (in Evangelio scriptum non est neque invenietur sub aposto-lis unquam factum, c. 60). Traditionally, the council has been dated to the first decade ofthe century, but a plausible argument has been made that the canons in their present form are a compilation of the decisions of a series of councils held throughout the fourth century.47 The later such principles guided episcopal decision-making, the less sufficient the intolerance argument becomes, because its effect has been to anoint the militant group as the normative Christians, and correspondingly to dismiss others as 'semi-Christians', those

44 Gibbon, Decline and fall, ch. 16 (ed. Bury, ii: 87).

45 Drake, Constantine and the bishops, 245-50.

46 P. Garnsey, 'Religious toleration in classical antiquity' is fundamental. On the language of toleration, see C. Ando, 'Pagan apologetics and Christian intolerance in the ages of Themistius and Augustine'.

47 J. Suberbiola Martinez, Nuevos concilios Hispano-Romanos; for the canons, see G. Martinez Diez andF. Rodriguez, eds., La colección canónica Hispana, IV, 233-68.

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