Publication Date



The culture of late antiquity was a curious blend of classical pagan forms and newly developed Christian ones. This chapter deals solely with aspects of late antique literary culture, and investigates the degree to which the rise of Christianity impacted traditional Greco-Roman literary forms. It provides an introduction to the six most outstanding proponents of literary genres: Jerome, Ambrose of Milan, Augustine of Hippo, John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Theodoret of Cyrrhus. The most interesting aspect of the Christian appropriation of pagan genres involves how they adapted these forms to suit new audiences and new themes. The chapter examines the continuities with existing genres, and the innovations and subversions introduced by Christian authors. After dealing briefly with the genre of florilegia, the chapter examines the effect of the eastern expansion of Christian culture on the Syriac, Armenian and Coptic communities, which were somewhat freer from the constraints of the Hellenistic heritage.


Centre for Biblical and Early Christian Studies

Document Type

Book Chapter

Access Rights

ERA Access

Access may be restricted.