Click here to get the answers to the most commonly asked RBL questions.

Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Libanius the Sophist: Rhetoric, Reality, and Religion in the Fourth Century
Cribiore, Raffaella

Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013 pp. x + 260. $49.95

Series Information
Townsend Lectures Series/Cornell Studies in Classical Philology


Description: Libanius of Antioch was a rhetorician of rare skill and eloquence. So renowned was he in the fourth century that his school of rhetoric in Roman Syria became among the most prestigious in the Eastern Empire. In this book, Raffaella Cribiore draws on her unique knowledge of the entire body of Libanius’s vast literary output—including 64 orations, 1,544 letters, and exercises for his students—to offer the fullest intellectual portrait yet of this remarkable figure whom John Chrystostom called “the sophist of the city." Libanius (314–ca. 393) lived at a time when Christianity was celebrating its triumph but paganism tried to resist. Although himself a pagan, Libanius cultivated friendships within Antioch’s Christian community and taught leaders of the Church including Chrysostom and Basil of Caesarea. Cribiore calls him a “gray pagan” who did not share the fanaticism of the Emperor Julian. Cribiore considers the role that a major intellectual of Libanius’s caliber played in this religiously diverse society and culture. When he wrote a letter or delivered an oration, who was he addressing and what did he hope to accomplish? One thing that stands out in Libanius’s speeches is the startling amount of invective against his enemies. How common was character assassination of this sort? What was the subtext to these speeches and how would they have been received? Adapted from the Townsend Lectures that Cribiore delivered at Cornell University in 2010, this book brilliantly restores Libanius to his rightful place in the rich and culturally complex world of Late Antiquity.

Subjects: Greco-Roman Literature, Early Christian Literature, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, Literary Approaches

Login to Read the Review(s)

You must be a member of SBL to read the review(s). In May 2019, SBL improved security of its main site with a new login procedure that requires an email address and a password, instead of an SBL member number. RBL’s login procedure is now synched to SBL’s. Please use your email address and SBL password to log in to RBL. Your use of this site indicates your acceptance of RBL’s Terms of Use.


Email Address
SBL Password
 
  
 Forgot Your Password
 Join SBL or Renew Membership


Review by Thomas Olbricht
Published 7/16/2015
Citation: Thomas Olbricht, review of Raffaella Cribiore, Libanius the Sophist: Rhetoric, Reality, and Religion in the Fourth Century, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2015).


Adobe Acrobat Reader
All RBL reviews are published in PDF format. To view these reviews, you must have downloaded and installed the FREE version of Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have the Reader or you have an older version of the Reader, you can download the most recent version now.

 

 
Privacy PolicyTerms of UseContact Us