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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: September 2020

Epilogue

Summary

Did a Christianisation of gifts accompany Christian letter-writing? It is certain that gifts of books became particularly important for cultivating Christian unity in the doctrinal sphere. Food, saints’ relics and church plate were also prized by recipients. While the fourth and fifth centuries saw an explosion of epistolarity, by 500 CE letter exchange had begun to dwindle, or at least fewer examples from then have survived. With regard to future directions we note that the study of letter-writing in the Jewish diaspora is very much needed. In addition more work remains to be done on the process of collecting letters, whether secular or Christian, in the late Classical period and in Late Antiquity. This is particularly true of papyrological sources, and the letters and collections of the sixth century deserve more scholarly attention.

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