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book reviews727 brings a vibrancy to this volume in highlighting the roles of churchmen counteracting heretical movements and thus in turn writing theology that is called upon so readily today. Kelly writes his World ofthe Early Christians with the premise that most students have "no knowledge of the ancient world." He has thus produced an engaging and readable study of the ancient Christian culture and history. Bearing in mind that the author is at times given to general statements which may sometimes be challenged, this edition is a worthwhile contribution to adult education programs and to the novice studying church history. Sister Madeleine Grace, CVI. University ofSt. Thomas Houston, Texas Perpetua's Passion: The Death and Memory of a Young Roman Woman. By Joyce E. Salisbury. (New York: Routledge. 1997. Pp. ix, 228. $19.95 paperback .) The martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas (not "Felicity," please!) has been the subject of many scholarly editions and analyses. So why bring out a new book on this very old subject? The answer lies perhaps in the author's method of approaching historical problems through such disciplines as sociology and psychology . The result is a brief but compact treatment of all those historical, religious, and communal experiences which may have molded Perpetua's character and prepared her for voluntary, sacrificial death. The book is very well organized around the central event of the trial and execution . We learn both what led to this event and what flowed from it. The first three chapters discuss Rome, Carthage, and the Christian community in Carthage. Chapter one deals with Roman customs of family and home, the role of the emperor as head of the extended family, and the general religious situation in the second and third centuries after Christ. Perpetua was a Roman, but also a Carthaginian: she was born and raised in Carthage and must have absorbed much of the city's spiritual heritage. The city's history, life, culture, and especially its infamous practice of human sacrifice are briefly introduced. We then learn how Christianity arrived in this city, its outstanding characteristics and its congregational life there. The actual story ofPerpetua is told in Chapters four and five, entitled "Prison" and "The Arena." Her arrest, trial, and experiences in prison are vividly described; dreams which she herself put down in writing and then interpreted to her fellow prisoners are related and analyzed. These pages are perhaps the most original of the whole book and could alone make it worthwhile and rewarding reading. The description of the execution itself is based on eyewitness accounts. Perpetua and her fellow martyrs were treated like others who were to be executed. The Roman arena is well described, and 728book reviews we learn that, as a rule, prisoners were not killed by the wild animals; these encounters stunned and perhaps wounded the condemned, but the actual killing was done by the sword, as happened in the case of Perpetua and her fellow martyrs. The final chapter,"Aftermath," answers the question people usually ask: "And then what happened?"What happened to Rome? Carthage? The Christian church in Carthage? And what happened to the memory of Perpetua as it is preserved in written form in her Passion How did the text become subject of sermons and interpretations and, perhaps more importantly, how did a Christian church inspired by the Holy Spirit become a church based on the hierarchy?— a crucial development. As an "aftermath" we also receive a brief but subtle reference to the beginning of the veneration of relics and the saints. It is always easier to criticize a book than to write one. So let me try to correct just one possible confusion: "Quodvultdeo" mentioned on pages 172 ff. is Quodvultdeus, a pupil and friend ofAugustine who lived through the barbarian invasion of Carthage but then fled to Italy and died in 453. Readers of the Catholic Historical Review will not learn much new in this book about the history of Rome, Carthage, and early Christianity, but they will enjoy the different viewpoint, the new perspective, and the gentle feminine touch which does not spare even St. Augustine for his treatment of Perpetua and Felicitas. Stephen Benko Sonoma, California Cassian...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 727-728
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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