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Gaming Greekness

Cultural Agonism among Christians and Jews in the Roman Empire


How the Jewish and Christian communities that emerged in the early Roman Empire navigated a ‘Hellenistic’ world is a longstanding and unsettled question. Recent scholarship on the intellectual cultures that developed among Greek speaking subjects of Rome in the so-called Second Sophistic as well as models for culture and competition informed by mathematical and economic game theories provide new ideas to address this question. This study offers a model for a kind of culture-making that accounts for how the cultural ecosystems of the Roman Empire enabled these religious communities to win legitimacy and build discourses of self-expression by competing on the same cultural fields as other Roman subjects. By considering a range of texts and figures—including Justin Martyr, Tatian, the ‘second’ Paul of the Acts of the Apostles, Lucian of Samosata, 4 Maccabees, and Favorinus of Arelate—this study contends that competing for legitimacy enabled those fledgling religious communities to express coherent cultural identities and secure social credibility within the complex milieu of Roman Imperial society.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-4123-0
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Publication Status: In Print
Publication Date: Dec 1,2020
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 374
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-4123-0
$158.00
Your price: $110.60

How the Jewish and Christian communities that emerged in the early Roman Empire navigated a ‘Hellenistic’ world is a longstanding and unsettled question. Recent scholarship on the intellectual cultures that developed among Greek speaking subjects of Rome in the so-called Second Sophistic as well as models for culture and competition informed by mathematical and economic game theories provide new ideas to address this question. This study offers a model for a kind of culture-making that accounts for how the cultural ecosystems of the Roman Empire enabled these religious communities to win legitimacy and build discourses of self-expression by competing on the same cultural fields as other Roman subjects. By considering a range of texts and figures—including Justin Martyr, Tatian, the ‘second’ Paul of the Acts of the Apostles, Lucian of Samosata, 4 Maccabees, and Favorinus of Arelate—this study contends that competing for legitimacy enabled those fledgling religious communities to express coherent cultural identities and secure social credibility within the complex milieu of Roman Imperial society.

REVIEWS

"Georgia presents a convincing case for the applicability of game theory to the Christian and Jewish literature of the early Roman Empire."

-- Excerpt from Elizabeth R. Davis, Rhea Classical Review 2022

How the Jewish and Christian communities that emerged in the early Roman Empire navigated a ‘Hellenistic’ world is a longstanding and unsettled question. Recent scholarship on the intellectual cultures that developed among Greek speaking subjects of Rome in the so-called Second Sophistic as well as models for culture and competition informed by mathematical and economic game theories provide new ideas to address this question. This study offers a model for a kind of culture-making that accounts for how the cultural ecosystems of the Roman Empire enabled these religious communities to win legitimacy and build discourses of self-expression by competing on the same cultural fields as other Roman subjects. By considering a range of texts and figures—including Justin Martyr, Tatian, the ‘second’ Paul of the Acts of the Apostles, Lucian of Samosata, 4 Maccabees, and Favorinus of Arelate—this study contends that competing for legitimacy enabled those fledgling religious communities to express coherent cultural identities and secure social credibility within the complex milieu of Roman Imperial society.

REVIEWS

"Georgia presents a convincing case for the applicability of game theory to the Christian and Jewish literature of the early Roman Empire."

-- Excerpt from Elizabeth R. Davis, Rhea Classical Review 2022

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ContributorBiography

Allan Georgia

Allan T. Georgia (PhD, Fordham University) has taught at Fordham University, the Methodist Theological School of Ohio, Ohio Wesleyan University, John Carroll University, and Case Western Reserve University. He is also the director of religious education at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cleveland, Ohio. His essays have appeared in the Journal for the Study of the New Testament and the Journal of Early Christian Studies.

Acknowledgements. ix

Chapter One. Gaming the System: Cultural Competition and the Stakes of “Greekness” in the Early Roman Empire  1

I.      Introduction: Isocrates’ Gambit and the Performance of Greekness in the Early Roman Empire  2

Isocrates’ Gambit2

  1. The Value of Paideia: Modeling the Production of Culture in the “Second Sophistic”  6
  2. Competition and the Production of Culture. 14

Paideia as Cultural Capital in the Roman Social World. 16

Paideia in the Roman Social World. 20

Paideia as Open-Source Culture. 24

  1. Empire and Culture: Sophistic Greekness as a Strategy for Coping with Roman Power  29

Greece and Rome. 32

Greece contra Rome. 36

  1. A Limit Case: Tertullian’s De Pallio and the Bound­aries of Greekness  43
  2. Overview.. 51

Chapter Two. “In and Out of the Game”: Favorinus, Lucian and The Strategic Possibilities of Competing for Greekness57

  1. Introduction.. 57
  2. Competition, Ambition, and the Prize of Belonging in Favorinus’s Corinthian Oration  60

Agonistic Imagery: Corinth as Prize and Contestant in Favorinus’s Corinthian Oration   65

  1. Lucian of Samosata and the Possibilities of a Plastic Paideia  73

“Do Not be Incredulous; Dreams Work Wonders!”: Lucian’s Dream and the Competition of Paideia  75

“Laugh at all the speakers!”: Rigors and Realities in the Teacher of Rhetoric  85

“It would be unkind to turn my own weapon against me!”: Agonistic Self-Creation and Lucian’s Invention in the Double Accused.. 94

  1. Agonism and Invention: The Possibilities of Paideia. 103

Chapter Three. Paul’s Understudy: Recasting Paul as a 2nd Cen­tury Cultural Competitor  107

  1. A Second Paul107
  2. The Evolution of ἀγῶνες in the Pauline Tradition.. 113

Competitive Imagery and Paul’s Self-Characterization in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27  115

Beyond the Metaphor: Agonism and Intellectual Life in the Ancient World  118

Venues of Competition in the Pastoral Epistles121

III.   Paul and the Critique of Magic and Popular Cult Practices in the Acts of the Apostles and the Pastoral Epistles  129

Critique of Cult Practices and the Exposure of Charlatans in the 1st – 3rd Centuries.130

Narrating Paul’s Critique of Magic and Popular Cult Practices in Acts 19  134

Characterizing Paul’s Adversaries in the Pastoral Epistles. 143

IV.   Fugitive Acts: Paul as a Civic Virtuoso in Acts 21-22. 149

Discourses of Exile and Belonging in the Roman World.. 151

Paul as a Civic Virtuoso in the Acts 21-22. 158

V.    Conclusion.. 165

Chapter Four. Piety and Paideia: Jews Dying like Greeks in front of Romans in 4 Maccabees169

I.      Introduction.. 169

II.    Remembering and Re-Membering: The Exordium of 4 Maccabees  172

Demonstrating Martyrs. 177

Paideia and Piety. 180

III.   “Sovereign Over the Emotions”: Eleazar’s Double Ἐπιδεῖξις and Paideutic Manliness  182

Prosopopoiia and Eleazar’s Rhetorical Ἐπιδεῖξις. 184

Eleazar’s Agonistic Ἐπιδεῖξις. 189

IV.   Tyrannical Passions: Roman Values, Greek Virtues, and the Discourse of Kingship in 4 Maccabees  194

The Roman “Audience” of 4 Maccabees. 198

Antiochus, the Tyrannized Despot. 204

V.    Rational Competition.. 212

Chapter Five. The Parting of the Ways had Greek Road Signs: Posture, Deportment and the Philosophical Marketplace in the Frame Narrative of Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho. 217

I.      Introduction.. 217

  1. Urban Outfits: City, Space, and Style. 223

City and Space within the Roman Civic Frame. 223

Cloaks, and What’s Beneath Them... 228

III.   Agonizing over the Details: Posture, Pose and De­meanor. 234

The Content and Context of Justin’s Homeric Greeting. 235

A Duel of Smiles. 237

Deportment as Competition.. 242

  1. What Came Before: Justin’s Career and The Philo­sophical Marketplace of the Ancient City  245

Justin as an Urban Philosopher in the Roman World. 246

Justin and “True” Philosophy. 254

V.    From Competition to Cooperation.. 259

Chapter Six. The Monster at the End of [T]his Book: Hybridity as Theological Strategy and Cultural Critique in Tatian’s Against the Greeks261

I.      Introduction.. 262

II.    “Difference Made Flesh”: Hybridity and Monstrosity in Tatian   267

A Contradiction in Terms: Tatian the (Pseudo-) Sophist267

Hybrid Selves, Bodies, and Speakers among the Sophists. 273

Hybridity, Monstrosity, and the Competition for Greekness  276

III.   Mixture and Monstrosity: Tatian’s Account of Greek­ness.. 280

Babel Revisited: Greeks and Greekness. 280

The Greeks as a Barbarian Saw Them: Rome’s Cultural Colony  289

IV.   The Unity and Concord of God.. 294

Conclusion.. 299

Bibliography. 305

Ancient Texts and Translations305

Secondary Texts. 320

Indices. 345

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