History of the Ancient World
Models and Evidence in the Study of Religion in Late Roman Egypt
Bagnall, Roger S. (New York University)
From Temple to Church: Destruction and Renewal of Local Cultic Topography in Late Antiquity, edited by Johannes Hahn, Stephen Emmel, and Ulrich Gotter, 23–41. Religions in the Graeco-Roman World 163. Leiden and Boston: Brill, (2008)
The title of this paper may seem too restrictive for an opening lecture in a colloquium concerned with the entire East of the Roman Empire, in which only half of the papers concern Egypt, and yet simultaneously far too ambitious in its scope. In the course of the colloquium, however, it became clear that the methodological issues that I was trying to confront were broadly relevant across the geographical span covered by the colloquium and to some extent raised fundamental questions about the very formulation of some of the organizers’ questions to participants, questions which came back into focus in the lively concluding discussion. This in my view was to be anticipated, because part of my argument is that Egypt is not any more exceptional than anywhere else in the Roman Empire of late antiquity, and that the questions at stake there are broadly applicable, even if the answers vary.