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Defining Paganism in the Carolingian World

James Palmer

Generations of scholars have looked for evidence of ‘paganism’ in continental sources from the eighth and ninth centuries. This paper surveys some of  the key problems in defining and conceptualizing the available literary evidence for such a project. Part one argues for a return to the sources to help escape the intellectual baggage created by discussions of ‘pan-Germanic  paganism’, interpretatio Romana and, more recently, folk practices. From the perspective of the sources’ producers, paganism needs to be understood as a category of difference employed to provide a better definition of  Christianity itself. In part two this line of thought is pursued through a brief study of the ways in which classical learning framed not only Carolingian attitudes to paganism, but also related strategies of moralizing.

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(via MIG Studies)