Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. David Olster


The emperor Justinian's religious policy has sometimes been characterized as haphazard or incoherent. This dissertation examines religious policy in the Roman Empire from the accession of the emperor Justin to the inception of the Three Chapters controversy in the mid 540's AD. It considers the resolution of the Acacian Schism, Justinian's apparent ambivalence with regard to the Theopaschite formula, the attempt to court the anti-Chalcedonians in Constantinople in the period leading up to the Council of 536, and the relationship between the genesis of the Three Chapters and Second Origenist controversies.

Even during these seemingly disparate episodes, this dissertation argues that it is possible to account for the apparent incoherence of this period. To do so, we create an account which includes and appreciates the embeddedness of imperial policy within a social context with two key features. First, we must bear in mind the shifting interests and information available to the individual agents through and over whom the emperor hoped to project influence. Second, we must identify the shifting and hardening symbolic and social boundaries established through the interactions of these same, competing agents. These form the basis for in- and out-group categorization. The individual interests of individual people—whether Justinian, Vitalian, Dioscorus, Leontius, Eusebius, Theodore Askidas, or Pelagius—within complex networks must always be accounted for to give a complete picture. When this social context is accounted for, Justinian's approach appears as that of a rational actor, having incomplete information, with consistent policy goals, working within inconsistent constraints to achieve those goals.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)