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Document Details :
Title: Questioning the 'Opposition' and Interpretatio Christiana in Marcus Aurelius (Med. 11.3)
Author(s): ROSS, William A.
Journal: Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses
Volume: 95 Issue: 4 Date: 2019
This article discusses a long-standing debate pertaining to the meaning of the word παράταξις in Marcus Aurelius (Med. 11.3), apparently in reference to the manner of death typical of early Christians. Scholars have for some time questioned the originality of this reference to Christians, in part owing to the difficulty of understanding παράταξις in the context. Over several centuries, a tradition has developed of translating the word using 'opposition' or its synonyms. However, detailed analysis of the use of παράταξις conclusively demonstrates that at no point in the history of Greek was παράταξις used with that sense. The lexical analysis offered here looks briefly at classical sources, but focuses primarily upon the post-classical evidence found in both literary and non-literary sources, where παράταξις is clearly and consistently used to refer to the concept battle. This evidence forms the basis for a more historically and linguistically accurate translation of Med. 11.3. The analysis also supports the proposal that the reference to Christians is a late interpolation, but one that elicited an erroneous understanding of παράταξις in Marcus due to expectations about early Christian attitudes towards martyrdom that have prevailed among interpreters, the results of which have crept into modern lexicons.