Tertullian the African theologian : a social anthropological reading of Tertullian's identities
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The following thesis explores the social identities of TertuIIian, a Christian from Carthage who lived from approximately 160 to 220. After exploring the implications of calling TertuIIian an "African Theologian," the introduction interacts with the work done on TertuIIian in the past, concluding that although he was once read Euro-centrically and assumed to be a Roman, explicitly, and a European, implicitly, scholars in recent decades have deconstructed the biographical information of TertuIIian, leaving his African origin as one of the only undisputed aspects of his life. However, while scholars have located TertuIIian within the broader movements of the Roman Empire, few have explored the North African milieu in relation to Tertullian's writings. In order to contribute to this area of scholarship, theories from the discipline of Social Anthropology are accommodated and applied to selections of Tertullian's writings, thereby exploring Tertullian's construction of his own identities. The social theories applied, namely, social identity, kinship identity, class identity, ethnic identity and religious identity, are used heuristically to read the sources from Roman Africa in order to inquire as to the various identities constructed by individuals and groups. Within the social context of Roman Africa, this study establishes the categories of Roman colonizers, indigenous Africans and new elites. The third category, new elites, is actually meant to destabilize the other two, denying any "essential" Roman or African identity. Once the context has been framed, the thesis investigates samples from Tertullian's writings to compare his construction of his own identities and the identities of his rhetorical opponents. In order to interpret Tertullian's social identities, one chapter compares the identities Tertullian constructs in his works Apologeticum and Ad nationes. The similarity of these two tracts allows for an inquiry into TertuIIian's "Other" and the "Other" Tertullian constructs for his audiences. The subsequent chapter applies kinship theory in order to compare Tertullian's ideals with those of Roman kinship and early Christian kinship. Therein, the usual discussion of Tertullian's view of marriage is readdressed by comparing the kinship identities and ideals forwarded in his works Ad uxorem 1 and 2. Closely connected to Tertullian's kinship identity is that of his class identity, and, while his exact status and class may be elusive in historical terms, one can explore his socio-economic ingroup and outgroup as he portrays them in De cultu feminarum 1 and 2. Tertullian's ethnic identity is discussed in a chapter that interprets his works De uirginibus uelandis and De pallio, in which it is suggested that Tertullian establishes boundaries between his own ethnic group and that of Roman colonizers. The last form of identity discussed, religious identity, involves a reinterpretation of TertuIIian's use of the New Prophecy. Therein, Tertullian's religious "Other" is understood to be constructed with not only "psychic" rhetoric, but also with Roman imagery. The overall study finds Tertullian's identities to be manifold, complex and discursive. Additionally, his writings are understood to reflect antagonism towards Romans, including Christian Romans, and Romanized Africans. While TertuIIian accommodates much from (Graeco-)Roman literature, laws and customs, he nevertheless retains a strongly stated non-Roman-ness and an African-ity which have been almost entirely neglected in past studies, and it is this aspect, therefore, which is highlighted in the present thesis.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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