La notion de "religio" dans le "De ira Dei" de Lactance : la Providence et la crainte de Dieu au fondement de la religion comme réponse à la philosophie épicurienne source des hérésies

Authors: Aubin, Jeffery
Advisor: Pasquier, Anne
Abstract: This thesis proposes a study of the concept religio in the De ira Dei of Lactantius, a Christian writer of the fourth century AD. Lactantius is well known for its etymology of religio found in its Diuinae institutiones, but the notion of religio, as found in the De ira Dei, never raised much interest. Yet, it is a central notion in this treatise written after Christianity became a religion tolerated in the Roman Empire. Indeed, the rhetoric analysis of the text shows the following propositio: there can’t be any religion where there is no fear of God. The main idea defended by Lactantius is that kindness and anger must both exist in God and that this is the essential point of piety and religion. But the concept of religion is rarely linked to fear God in Antiquity and fear is rather associated with superstitio in Latin literature, especially in Varro and Cicero. The thought of Lactance is remote not only to Roman thinkers of philosophy of religion, but also Christian authors who have not linked these concepts as clearly. Firstly, this thesis examines the use by Christian of religio and superstitio in order to identify some characteristics. Secondly, this study analyzes the first part of the De ira Dei devoted to the notion of religio, to the fear of God and to Providence. The topics covered in the treaty are similar to those contained in the pseudo-clementine texts: divine judgment used to correct rather than to avenge, Divine Providence, the fear of God, discussion about atoms and the particular use of Epicurus as a the archetype of those who refuse to admit that God created the world and governs it. A strong link can be found between the thought expressed by Simon and Faustinianus in the Pseudo-Clementines and statements attributed to Epicurus in the De ira Dei. Some researchers have noted that the thought of Epicurus, as depicted in the Treaty of Lactantius, not always reflect exactly the thought of the philosopher of the garden. The refutation of Lactantius would be directed at a Christian group, or one close to Christianty, rather than directed at the epicurean philosophy. This particular group could not reconcile the idea of a good God and a God who is angry. These groups tend to reject the idea of God’s action in the world, therefore the Divine Providence, and have a very pessimistic view of man. The analysis of the arguments shows that the opponents of this book share traits with Arnobius and another author who is refuted by Augustine in his Contra aduersarium legis and prophetarum. While the Pseudo-Clementines are using the figure of Simon to tackle Marcionites or the disciples of Apelles, the De ira Dei uses the Epicurus to attack a group of “Neu- Marcionitismus” as A. von Harnack called them. Therefore, the aim of the discussion on religion in the De ira Dei is to inform these groups that they can’t be part of the religio if they do not conceive that there is only one God who created the world, governs it and who can feel kindness as well as anger.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2016
Open Access Date: 24 April 2018
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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