Date of Award
Master of Arts
Dr. Jaclyn Maxwell
Dr. Brian Wilson
Dr. Paul L. Maier
Masters Thesis-Campus Only
Arianism, a Christian heresy from the fourth century, proved to be one of orthodox Christianity's most resilient enemies. Though the Council of Nicaea technically condemned Arianism as a heresy in 325 C.E. , the religion persisted in parts of Europe through the late sixth century- particularly among the 'barbarian' Goths.
Many Goths had become Arian Christians reluctantly upon entering the Roman Empire in the mid-fourth century. The Goths' continued adherence to Arianism, once it was condemned, was a result of two factors. First, a compatibility existed and was nurtured between Gothic culture and Arianism. This made the heresy that much harder to relinquish. Secondly, adherence to Arianism kept the Goths in a desirable marginal status within the Roman Empire. Arianism was Christian enough to provide acceptance, but different enough to help the Goths avoid assimilation.
Similar examples occur in other contemporary groups-especially the Nestorians of Persia. Studies of these phenomena demonstrate how religion was used as a tool in identity establishment and also show the tensions that existed in regard to identity among the various groups of the later Roman Empire.
Mead, Richelle K., "Arianism and the Goths: Religion and Identity Preservation in Late Antiquity" (2001). Masters Theses. 3766.