2022-23 UTM Annual Classics Seminar Series
Religious Pluralism in the Ancient World: Herodotus, The Roman Republic, and Late Antiquity
Jan Bremmer (University of Groningen)
Professor Bremmer’s talk will take place on Tuesday, October 4, 4:10–6 pm, at UTM (Maanjiwe nendamowinan 3230). This will be a hybrid event. Unlike the other seminars in our series, this talk will not be followed by a seminar-style discussion.
Abstract: Religious pluralism is a fashionable subject. But what is religion and what is pluralism? The first term has been debated in the classical world by the well-known books of Brent Nongbri and Carlin Barton & Daniel Boyarin, and I will say a few words about these. Regarding pluralism, two prominent British sociologists of religion, Grace Davie and James Beckford, have called it, respectively, ‘a tricky term’ and a term needing ‘special care’. The first term I employ here as a descriptive term for differences between and within religions, whereas the second one has a more normative content and concerns ‘the frameworks of public policy, law and social practices which recognize, accommodate, regulate and facilitate religious diversity’. However, before turning to antiquity, I will show that the term ‘religious pluralism’ originates in the early 1940s and takes off in the 1980s with many books and articles with ‘religious pluralism’ in the title, although much less in the study of the ancient world. Making use of our two concepts, diversity and pluralism, I will start by looking at Herodotus’ view of Persian religion as an example of religious diversity (§ 1), then look at the vocabulary of diversity in the Roman Republic and the early Principate (§ 2) and, finally, albeit of course only summarily, at the place of diversity and pluralism in Late Antiquity (§ 3), followed by some final considerations.
Time: Oct 4, 2022, 4:00 PM America/Toronto
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