These essays deal with two central preoccupations: the new styles of political behaviour developed by Christian rulers and Christian congregations during the century or so after Constantine's conversion, and the experiments in religious self-presentation which are reflected in our sources from the same period.
The first topic is covered in papers dealing with such activities as outbursts of popular rioting and exhibitions of imperial penance, and with legislation by emperors and lobbying by bishops; the second in papers on the inscriptions erected by pagan aristocrats, on the self-images presented by Christian autobiographers, and on the motives behind Christian anthologizing. The two themes converge in the central section, focusing on Gregory Nazianzen.
These papers are conceived as preliminary studies for a forthcoming book which will analyse his involvement in local and imperial politics, and the resourcefulness of his successive exercises in self-advertisement.
They show him involving himself in family disputes, civic life and literary culture, reshaping the legacy of his friend Basil and shaping his own identity as an independent holy man, beyond reach of his obligations to family, city and church