Over the past generation, a broad consensus has been reached that the category of “religion” as it exists in modernity does not map onto a clearly delineated discursive domain in the ancient Mediterranean and West Asian world—or in other premodern and non-Western contexts, for that matter.1 Some have gone further and argued that the application of the term religion to ancient contexts at best occludes the organization of those societies and cultures and even distorts historical understanding.2 To what extent historical developments within the world of Late Antiquity prefigured or conditioned the emergence of the discourse of religion in early modern Europe remains hotly debated.3 Nonetheless, few scholars would now insist on treating “religion” as a discrete experiential, epistemological, or legal domain disembedded from the political, economic, military, and scientific spheres of social life during the period of Late Antiquity.

But this foundational insight into the contingent...

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