By focusing first upon Asterius's critique of the festival of Kalends, I will outline how Asterius perceived the failure of Hellenistic religion and society.
Like Gregory of Nazianzus's "supercessionist" view of paideia as belonging now to Christians, Asterius looked toward a future where the traditional civic institutions (such as festivals) and virtues would henceforth be transformed by Christianity as exemplified by martyrs.
In his introduction to a homily attacking the New Year's festival of Kalends, Asterius proposed two criteria for a public festival: it must have a clear object and it must grant everyone a share of the enjoyment (Against Kalends, 2.
Asterius opposed the disorderly and materialistic behavior that the festival encouraged, but not its shadowy pagan heritage.
Finally in addition to the melancholy of forced expenditures and the disorder of money-grubbing, Asterius observes a general collapse of virtue.
It is in the realm of virtue that Asterius and other Christian leaders found much to desire of the remaining non-Christian festivals in their society, especially among eastern Christian leaders who were little concerned with traditional Greek religion, or passed it off as mere superstition.
Asterius joined other Christian leaders who were actively seeking to reform both what was celebrated and for what purpose it was to be celebrated.
In contrast to the critique on Kalends, Asterius could point toward the clear and noble purpose of martyrs' festivals.
Furthermore, the festivals have some claim to honored civic tradition since Asterius could speak of the Amaseian "fathers" who built fine buildings and established annual festivals in honor of martyrs.
Jahrbuch fur Liturgik und Hymnologie 13 (1968) 1-39; Auf der Maur, Die Osterhomilien des Asterius Sophistes; Sebastia Janeras, Le Vendredi-Saint dans la tradition liturgique byzantine: Structure et histoire de ses offices, Studia Anselmiana 99 (Rome: Benedictina, 1988) 264-70.
13) Egon Wellesz, "Melito's Homily on the Passion: An Investigation into the Sources of Byzantine Hymnography," Journal of Theological Studies 44 (1943) 41-48; Eric Werner, "Melito of Sardis, the First Poet of Deicide," Hebrew Union College Annual 37 (1966) 191-210; Auf der Maur, Osterhomilien des Asterius Sophistes 142; Schutz, "Was habe ich dir getan" 1, 2, 38; Janeras, Vendredi-Saint 264-70.
In the process of rehabilitating the reputed heretic, Lienhard examines Marcellus s theology as found in his primary work, the Contra Asterium, and then as found in the writings of his contemporary opponents (Eusebius of Caesarea, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Paulinus of Tyre, Narcissus of Neronias and Asterius