chapter  8
18 Pages

Christian paganism

Christian knowledge 149 Textuality: coming down from Sinai 149 Specificity 1 52 What pagans do 1 56 Eating and drinking Dance 1 6 1 Particular customs 1 63

New Year's Day 1 63 Thursday 1 64 The moon 1 64 Laurel 1 65

Catechism: renouncing what? 1 65

With this chapter we move from where it happens to what happens, from sacred place to ritual. We may approach this topic in a number of ways. One way is the study of archaeological remains, but generally in this book I have chosen to look at a different source of evidence, namely what people tell us about pagans. Some pagans, Greeks and Romans, tell us about themselves. Sometimes they tell us about other pagans. But one overwhelming and characterful source for the activities of pagans is those who sought to destroy, stamp out and repress every last vestige of pagan­ ism. For Christians, paganism was a professional interest. But that does not, as we shall see in this chapter, make them scientists of paganism. In a remarkable way Christians were unable to comprehend the variety and chaos that always make paganism what it is.