Date of Award


Document Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History and University Honors






Conversion -- Comparative studies, Conversion -- Christianity -- History, Conversion -- Judaism -- History, Conversion -- Paganism -- History




The following paper originates in a series of reflections on the phenomenon of religious conversion in antiquity and the processes which lead to the completion of the event. Conversion has often been studied as a single process of change, a process defined by Arthur D. Nock in 1933 as "the reorientation of the soul of an individual, his deliberate turning from indifference or from an earlier form of piety to another, a turning which implies a consciousness that a great change is involved, that the old was wrong and the new is right." Whether or not this definition is in line with contemporary notions of religious conversion, the idea that a conversion leads one away from the "wrong" and towards the "right" is a common feature to all of the narratives from the Greco-Roman period that will be considered in this study. Previous studies of religious conversion have used a number of disciplinary or inter-disciplinary approaches, usually from the fields of sociology, psychology, history, and anthropology. These studies have focused on several aspects of the conversion experience, including motivations of the person seeking to convert, the socio-political environments in which conversions take place, and thematic elements present in conversion narratives, to name a few. On the basis of these studies a few models have been proposed for understanding experiences of religious conversion.


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