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Title: Inimica amicitia : friendship and the notion of exclusion in early Christian Latin literature
Author: Brändli, Adrian
ISNI:       0000 0004 6498 8943
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis discusses the notion of amicitia in early Christian literature. By examining letters and normative texts ranging from the third to the early fifth century, the study illuminates not only how contemporary authors shaped friendship conceptually but also how these concepts relate to the actual social practice. Typically, scholars confine their reading of Christian friendship to the late antique period. In so doing, they approach amicitia either as a particular kind of relationship performing crucial social functions or as a subject for theorization that followed the example of a longstanding ancient philosophical tradition. Particularly influential has been the view that links amicitia with affection and love. Hence, scholars tend to stress the inclusiveness of friendship. By contrast, my own study focuses on the aspect of exclusion as the necessary by-product of social inclusion processes. Along these lines, amicita is described as existing in a dialectical opposition with its antonym, inimicitia. This approach yielded a number of insights. First, as the study moves into uncharted territory, the examination of third century texts highlights a tradition of amicitia-related thought that reached further back than has previously been assumed. From this, a more nuanced picture of friendship emerges that is not constrained by scholarly established boundaries between different fields of study. Second, the principle of inclusion and exclusion, dividing the world into amici and inimici, has been revealed as a powerful tool in church politics and religious controversy that established sharp boundaries between competing Christian factions. This view, which posits the truth of faith as the necessary prerequisite for friendship, is set off against other contemporary voices that did not make amicitia dependent on a particular religious group affiliation. Third, while disentangling friendship from the question of love, the character of Christian amicitia is viewed against the backdrop of the divine household. Though the conceptual overlap between friendship and kinship is not unique to the Christian tradition, such thinking ties in with an idea of community that builds on the paternity of God. These findings have implications for both the study of ancient friendship and the history of the early church. They improve our understanding of the relation between the conceptualization of amicitia and the actual social practice and moreover offer a deep insight into the social dynamics of contemporary religious controversies.
Supervisor: McLynn, Neil B. Sponsor: Berrow Foundation Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Christianity and culture--Early church ; Inclusion ; Exclusion ; Friendship