Beat Brenk

Christianization of the Late Roman World

Cloth bound

Cities, Churches, Synagogues, Palaces, Private Houses and Monasteries in the Early Christian Period

Publication: to be announced

24 x 17 cm
620 pp. 326 illus.


Book Description

The separate papers in this publication have appeared during the last 10-15 years as parts of a comprehensive enquiry by Professor Brenk, where the goal is not generalization, but microhistory. The opportunity presented itself to examine the phenomenon of Christianization on the basis of separate case studies in different religious, social and economic areas of life. The author asks how these areas of life changed in a period of major transformation in the Late Roman World, between the 3rd and the 7th centuries, and how these changes were reflected in art and architecture.

The city in late antiquity forms the starting point, “acquiring a new emphasis after the 4th century with the cult buildings of Christians and Jew (churches, monasteries, synagogues) as well as some extremely luxurious residences. The author tries to examine in which topographic surroundings Christian and Jewish cult buildings were established. Special attention is given to the question of the taking over of construction plots or the re-use of buildings, as well as the re-use by building materials by Christians.

A further selection of topics emerges with the use, re-use and with the artistic furnishing of private houses and residences with house chapels by Christians. The investigation of house chapels throws a new light of the question of private cults. Cult, function and requirement are categories from which a new understanding can be obtained for such different building types as monasteries, urban votive churches, cathedrals and pilgrimage churches.

A considerable number of studies previously published in German and Italian are presented here in English “translation, and some are published here for the first time.


  • Introduction
  • Cities: The Christianization of the late-Antique City
  • On the Christianization of the late-Antique City in the East (Gerasa, Apamea, Bosra, the Negev Cities)
  • The Christianization of the City of Ostia


Churches 1:

  • From Private House to Church
  • House Churches (unpublished)
  • Churches over Private Houses (Kurnub, Shivta, S. Sabina. S. Pudenziana, Parenzo, Capernaum, Ebona)
  • SS. Giovanni e Paolo in Rom: a Case Study


Churches 2:

  • Functions, Pretentions and Meaning
  • The Year 410 and its Effect on Church Art at Rome
  • Parenzo, Problems of Research
  • The Building Concept of Hagios Demetrios in Thessaloniki
  • The Cult Centre, its Accessibility and its Visitors
  • On the Rhetoric of Places of Pilgrimage and Holy Images



  • The Christianization of the Jewish City Centre of Capernaum
  • The Transformation of the Synagogue of Apamea into a Church. A Study in History and Mentalities


Houses and Palaces:

  • Christian Basilica or Christian ‘Domus of the Tigriniani’
  • On the Christianization of the Imperial Residence
  • Imperial-Christian-Pagan-Private. From the Context to the Significance
  • The Christianization of the Domus of the Valerii on the Celian
  • Monasteries: Monastic Construction and Equipment before the year 800. Rhetoric versus Reality
  • Benedict and the Problem of monastic Architecture before the Year 1000
  • On the Relationship of the Four-winged Layout (Claustrum) in early Christian-early Medieval Monasteries
  • On the Origin and Rhetoric of the Monk’s Portrait (unpublished)



  • Spolia from Constantine to Charlemagne: Aesthetics versus Ideology.
  • Spolia and their Effect on the Aesthetics of varietas
  • Additional Notes
  • Index

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