I’ve just finished reading Dirk Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (De Gruyter, 2016; Baylor University Press, 2017), a detailed and wide-ranging study of the effects of Christianity on the survival of classical literature.
Since at least Gibbon (19th century), there have been claims that the “triumph” of Christianity led to the wholesale destruction of the literary heritage of “pagan” antiquity. Rohmann, therefore, sets out to conduct an analysis that is a free as he can make it from either this sort of anti-Christian animus or simplistic Christian apologetics.
Rohmann’s main theses are (1) that the state-sponsored burning of books is first attested in Diocletian’s order to destroy books owned by Manichaeans, Egyptian alchemists and Christians (early 4th century AD); (2) that thereafter, as Christianity acquired cultural and political clout, ecclesiastical leaders and Christian rulers turned the tables and at various time sought to suppress or destroy…
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