This article investigates the ideological dimensions of an expressly spatialized discourse of Christian heresy in late antiquity as articulated in the laws of the Theodosian Code. It argues that efforts to legislate heresy in spatial terms served both to reify its seemingly uncontrollable, protean nature, while also distinguishing heresy as a dangerous social contagion from heresy as a cognitive condition. To legislate heresy in the language of space and place was an attempt to regularize it, to subject it to conditions that could be usefully legislated against, maybe even with a modicum of tolerance in a narrowly defined spaced. The laws within the Code deployed different rhetorics and logics to describe and regulate the spaces of the heretics. The heretics were denied space altogether and thus exposed, permitted secluded spaces and contained, and pushed out of the world altogether and thus made oblivious. In these different rhetorical maneuvers, the Code produced a protracted struggle to define the very terms of its heretical control. In codifying efforts to manage such a diverse and diffuse mass of heretics, the Code produced not a singular orthodoxy, but various orthodoxies or strategies of heretical containment. Efforts to control the heretics, in short, produced competing and complementary orthodoxies.
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Research Article| June 01 2017
Strategies of Containment: Regulatory Rhetoric and Heretical Space in the Theodosian Code
Studies in Late Antiquity (2017) 1 (2): 124–149.
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Todd S. Berzon; Strategies of Containment: Regulatory Rhetoric and Heretical Space in the Theodosian Code. Studies in Late Antiquity 1 June 2017; 1 (2): 124–149. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/sla.2017.1.2.124
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