The spread of new cults, including Christianity, brought unprecedented religious plurality and competition and new spiritualities to the ancient world. These did not perish in the crisis of the 3rd century: Christianity did not prevail against 'dying' religious semantic systems with the Constantinian revolution.
The triumphalist narrative of the conversion of the Roman empire is ambivalent: the victorious march of Christianity, despite the use of enormous public, economic and social resources, was not followed by a general enforcement of Christian norms of behaviour. The claimed religious and social dichotomy between Christians and pagans remained questionable, since baptism alone did not convey a decidedly Christian identity. Believers lived out other social identities as well. Even the contact with Jews, pagans and their rites could not be prevented. Theatre, incubation, magic, etc. remained popular. Instead of a successful inner mission, secularizing tendencies were obvious. Theological, social and political debates have their roots in this field of tension and promoted the transformation of Late Antique society and politics. The following aspects shall to be analysed
- the secularization of pagan public practices, festivals and identities
- dynamics and potential for conflict of new Christian concepts of sacralization
- phenomena of secularization in Christian self-Conception and community life
- strategies for the displacement or integration of pagan, Jewish and other practices
- the differentiation of multiple religious and social identities as expressions of religious diversity
- the articulation and dynamics of social and political opposites in the medium of religious conflict