First Advisor

Brian Turner

Date of Award


Document Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

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






Causation, Paulus Orosius, Paulus Orosius. Historiarum adversus paganos libri VII, Christianity -- Historiography, Christian historians, Apologetics -- Early works to 1800




Only recently has the reputation of the fifth century presbyter and historian, Paulus Orosius, begun to recover from his many detractors in modem scholarship. Beginning with Gibbon, up until today, many scholars have emphasized Orosius' Christian assumptions and apologetic intentions in his historical work, and dismissed or downplayed its historical content. While a few scholars have attempted to reaffirm that Orosius was operating in the Classical historiographical tradition, Orosius' interpretation of history, which was heavily informed by his Christian beliefs, tends to mark Orosius as beginning a new Christian historiographical tradition. To better understand how Orosius saw the practice of history, and whether he represented a break from the Classical historiographical tradition, this paper examines how he viewed causation. In this thesis, the explanations from Orosius' historical work Seven Books of History against the Pagans are grouped into categories and analyzed. The result of this analysis shows that Orosius used both divine causes to explain events as well as more traditional secular ones. The examination of both his divine and secular explanations paint the picture of a historian who was attempting to write history in the Classical tradition, and whose methodology does not stray far from his pagan predecessors. This conclusion undermines the attempts of some scholars to view Orosius' work as a theological endeavor, as opposed to an historical one, as well as breaks down any binary distinction between Orosius as a new kind of Christian historian or one following in the historiographical tradition that had come before.


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