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Classifying Christians

Ethnography, Heresiology, and the Limits of Knowledge in Late Antiquity

Todd S. Berzon (Author)


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Classifying Christians investigates late antique Christian heresiologies as ethnographies that catalogued and detailed the origins, rituals, doctrines, and customs of the heretics in explicitly polemical and theological terms. Oscillating between ancient ethnographic evidence and contemporary ethnographic writing, Todd S. Berzon argues that late antique heresiology shares an underlying logic with classical ethnography in the ancient Mediterranean world. By providing an account of heresiological writing from the second to fifth century, Classifying Christians embeds heresiology within the historical development of imperial forms of knowledge that have shaped western culture from antiquity to the present.
List of Abbreviations

Introduction: Writing People, Writing Religion
1. Heresiology as Ethnography: The Ethnographic Disposition
2. Comparing Theologies and Comparing Peoples: The Customs, Doctrines, and Dispositions of the Heretics
3. Contesting Ethnography: Heretical Models of Human and Cosmic Plurality
4. Christianized Ethnography: Paradigms of Heresiological Knowledge
5. Knowledge Fair and Foul: The Rhetoric of Heresiological Inquiry
6. The Infinity of Continuity: Epiphanius of Salamis and the Limits of the Ethnographic Disposition
7. From Ethnography to List: Transcribing and Traversing Heresy

Epilogue: The Legacy of Heresiology
Todd S. Berzon is Assistant Professor of Religion at Bowdoin College.
"Berzon's book offers a potent epistemological reflection on the production, organization, and limits of knowledge in late antiquity... a finely articulated meditation on the effects of theological and ethnographic ancient list-making."—Bryn Mawr Classical Review
"Classifying Christians is a remarkable book... indispensable."—Reading Religion
"Todd S. Berzon’s Classifying Christians: Ethnography, Heresiology, and the Limits of Knowledge in Late Antiquity partakes of these rich conversations by offering a sustained and convincing reflection on the adaptations, innovations, and antinomies of heresy-writing in the late ancient period."—Ancient Jew Review
"Classifying Christians is a learned, wide-ranging, and exciting new study on ancient Christian heresiology... we look forward to Todd Berzon’s next [volume]."—Histos
"This volume clears more space in our scholarly discourse for several topics which are only recently starting to receive a fraction of the attention they deserve."—Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum
"Classifying Christians is a splendid and challenging study, a must-read for scholars in the field of Late Antique theological polemics. . . . immersive and engaging while intellectually challenging at the same time."—Augustiniana
Classifying Christians represents a crucial missing chapter in the larger history of Western discourse about itself and others. Too often, studies of heresiology understand and present it as a sui generis literature, a fascinating late-ancient ‘oddity’ that gets pitched to modern readers as an intriguing bauble. Todd Berzon’s study is the first to make a convincing argument as to why anyone outside the narrow field of late ancient studies should care about heresiology.”—Andrew Jacobs, Professor of Religious Studies and Mary W. and J. Stanley Johnson Professor of Humanities, Scripps College

“With Classifying Christians, Todd Berzon has produced an original, important, and impressive intellectual intervention in early Christian history, the history of social sciences, and critical theory of religion. This well-conceived, highly learned, and sophisticated analysis of the genre of heresiology will be required reading for scholars of antiquity.”—Jeremy Schott, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington

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