Roman Nobilitas in Jerome's Letters 978-3-16-159343-7 - Mohr Siebeck
Theology

Jessica van 't Westeinde

Roman Nobilitas in Jerome's Letters

Roman Values and Christian Asceticism for Socialites

[Römische Nobilitas in den Briefen des Hieronymus. Römische Werte und christliche Askese für Prominente.]

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Jerome of Stridon promoted a new model of Christian nobility that safeguards traditional Roman values and the exclusivity of the illustres. In this study, Jessica van 't Westeinde demonstrates how the difference between the true nobility and the nouveau riche becomes visible in Jerome's correspondence with these elites.
Jerome of Stridon argued that 'the most distinguished privilege loses its prestige when lavished on a crowd' (Ep. 66.7). Recent imperial changes left the senatorial aristocracy with a devaluation of their order. When a number of its illustres showed an appetite for asceticism, Jerome took up his quill to offer them a nobilitas- model that preserved their exclusivity through appropriation of Christian asceticism. Jessica van 't Westeinde shows how Jerome's design restored the Roman exclusivist notion of nobilitas as an antidote to the opening up of senatorial rank to 'country boors' by creating a status group of Christian elites. The nouveau riche may have attempted to enter this social circle, but they could never attain the same level of perfection as the illustres. As such, Jerome offered a 'Christian ascetic' nobilitas- model that embodies continuation which breathes Roman aristocratic status culture of the illustres.
Authors/Editors

Jessica van 't Westeinde 2016 PhD from Durham University, UK; currently Junior Research Fellow at the Department of Ancient History, University of Bern (IRC Religious Conflict and Coping Strategies), and the Department of Ancient History, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen.
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4963-4130

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