In Hora Mortis: Évolution de la pastorale chrétienne de la mort aux IVe et Ve siècles dans l'Occident latinby Eric Rebillard (review)
- The Catholic Historical Review
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 82, Number 4, October 1996
- pp. 681-683
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BOOK REVIEWS681 the "evU skiU of the Aristotelian syUogism" and at the same time make use of Unes from Homer's Odyssey in the epigraph of a letter (p. 17). If die cosmological myth ofPlato's Timaeus was influential,knowledge ofits argument is practicaUy presupposed by the Cappadocians; but Uterary myth Ui Greek poetry was deemed unreformable and not a suitable vehicle for expressing theological ideas. There is one caution that bears notice. It might occur to the reader that die thought of the individual members of the triad (or tetrad, with Macrina) differed inasmuch as each of them possessed an individual approach; but Pelikan mixes theU statements as though something like a unified system of "Cappadocian thought" existed. WhUe admitting that discussion and correspondence along with Platonism and the paideia gave them a common outlook, one is at times inclined to hope that the author would point out differences of approach among them. Admittedly this was not the object of PeUkan's analysis. This said, the importance of his book is patent. It has provided a firm foundation for the study of the cultural synthesis of Christianity and the Greekpaideia Ui the postCappadocian period. Frank R.Trombley University of Wales College ofCardiff Ln Hora Mortis:Évolution de lapastorale chrétienne de la mort aux LV etV siècles dans l'Occident latin. By Eric ReblUard. [BibUothèque des Écoles françaises d'Athènes et de Rome,Fascicule 283·] (Rome:École Française de Rome. 1994. Pp. xvi, 269) This book studies the attitudes toward the fear of death and die fear of judgment at the turn of the fifth century. It sets out to document a significant and radical change Ui the Western Christian attitude toward die fear of death and judgment. A careful reading of this study may not seem obvious within a time when tilings like death, sin, and penance are rarely addressed Ui the mainstream of Christian life or conversation.Yet, the process of discovering the rich transformations of another age may weU open the way to the positive, forwardlooking aspects of those tiiemes for present-day Christian IUe and thought. In any case, this finely crafted book is worth the time and effort. In continuity with theU predecessors, preachers such as Zeno ofVerona and Ambrose of MUan spoke of death as a good; fear of death was a sign of a bad conscience (p. 19); faith was said to destroy the fear of death (p. 25). In die context of a Stoic phUosophy or at a time when there is a need to affirm the value of Christian martyrdom, the view that death is a good to be desUed and the fear of death is a sign of guUt may be understandable. However, by the beginning of the fifth century, figures such as Augustine, Peter Chrysologus, and Leo the Great thought of the fear of death as a normal, acceptable human and Christian experience, not a sign of a bad conscience. RebUlard provides a clear, detaUed, and valuable analysis of sermons, burial inscriptions, and other related material 682book reviews from that time, tiius documenting a changed pastoral approach toward death at the beginning of die fifth century. A significant aspect ofhis analysis centers on the impact ofdie Pelagian controversy on diis multifaceted aspect of Christian experience. Holding that the fear of death is not a fundamental part of human nature, Augustine used the common fact of fear to say diat deatii is a punishment for original sin (pp. 63-65). He thus made a conscious break widi the heroic ideal ofthe mastery of self, the keystone of which was the acceptance of death without fear (p. 1 19)· It was the Pelagian controversy which led Augustine to crystaUize some previously held aspects of his thought on the effects of original sin (p. 84). As widi other fifth-century writers, his acceptance of die fact diat one cannot be without sin aUows him to emphasize daUy penance and focus, not on fear of death or of judgment, but on the hope of salvation (pp. 144-145, 165-166). RebUlard's study ofthe fear ofjudgment is simUar to that of the fear of death, showing how...