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Ambrosiaster's Political Theology$
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Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199230204

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199230204.001.0001

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Diabolical Tyranny

Diabolical Tyranny

(p.146) 7 Diabolical Tyranny
Ambrosiaster's Political Theology

Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores Ambrosiaster's presentation of the Devil as the tyrannical opponent of God, and a spiritual political model for earthly tyrants and usurpers. He was not the first Christian to pair the diabolical and the political. Christian writers before Ambrosiaster had characterized persecuting emperors as tyrants and close to the Devil, and the Devil himself as a cruel, tyrannical ruler. However, where earlier writers had tended to focus on the brutal aspects of the Devil's tyranny, that is, on his cruel persecution of Christians, Ambrosiaster insisted that the Devil was a contumacious rebel who attempted a usurpation of God's kingship and successfully won mastery over sinful man. It is argued that historical circumstances may have influenced this shift; Ambrosiaster's Latin predecessors had lived under the threat of persecution and suffering (Lactantius under the pagan Diocletian, Hilary and Lucifer under the Arian Constantius), whereas Ambrosiaster's immediate historical context was that of a plethora of western usurpers.

Keywords:   Devil, political theology, late Roman Christian writers, God

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