Religious Studies: The Ancient Mediterranean

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The Ancient Mediterranean has long fascinated me. In the seventh grade, I learned of Greece and Rome, spurring me to read further. During that year, I presented projects on the Sistine Chapel and Emperor Constantine, both of which would later inspire my senior undergraduate thesis on the Sibyls in Lactantius. My interest in Greek and Roman Culture led me to major in the Classics (Greek and Latin) at the University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA), with a minor in Religious Studies. After working towards a masters, I want to pursue a doctorate in the study of the religion of the late Roman Empire, with the intent on an academic career in Religious Studies. I want to offer students new ways of perceiving the world by examining religious and cultural beliefs and practices through the lens of another culture (i.e. the Mediterranean World).
In future research, I wish to explore the interplay of pagan and Christian religious traditions. I want to investigate which ways the average pagan and Christian Romans of the Late Roman Empire integrated each other's seemingly disparate religious beliefs and practices into their own semi-coherent cosmologies. We must first keep in mind that the category of "religion" to describe the pagan and Christian traditions is a modern concept. James B. Rives points out that the Romans had no such concept as "religions." Thus, Rives argues that Roman religion cannot be characterized as religious toleration. Nevertheless, Rives adds that

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