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  • El Priscilianismo, Arqueología y Prosopografía by Diego Piay Augusto
  • Alberto Ferreiro
Diego Piay Augusto
El Priscilianismo, Arqueología y Prosopografía
Studia Archaeologica, 222
Rome: L'Erma di Bretschneider, 2018
Pp. 226. €145.00/$170.00.

It is rather amazing the amount of research that continues to be generated on the fourth-century "heretic" Priscillian of Avila in monographs and articles, intended for scholarly or popular audiences. The present volume is another recent contribution to the subject. The book is a revised version of a doctoral dissertation that the author successfully defended for his PhD at the University of Santiago de Compostela. Although adapted, it still has some characteristics of a dissertation; it tends to be ambitious in its scope and over-documented with very dense notes, all in a small volume. On the other hand, the novelty of this monograph is the manner in which it combines archaeology and historical texts relevant to Priscillianism. It also provides a full prosopography inventory of all persons, friend or foe, associated with Priscillianism. It also collects all that we have up to now regarding archaeological evidence related to Priscillianism, some of which is disputed by the scholarly community, concerning whether we really have any hard evidence of Priscillianist structures. Scholar and novice will benefit from these comprehensive inventories that are conveniently organized for easy consultation. The author's scholarly background reveals that he has participated in several archaeological excavations beginning in 1998. Some of them are not related to this topic, but some of them are; the latter are referenced in this study. His training gives him a great advantage over other authors as a historian and an archaeologist; he speaks with direct experience from both fields.

The volume is organized with the following sections and chapters: Acrónimos y Abreviaturas; Prefacio; Introducción; Parte Primera: Prosopografía: Capítulo I) Acercamiento prosopográfico al priscilianismo; Capítulo II) De Higinio de Córdoba a Braulio de Zaragoza, Crónica del antipriscilianismo; Parte Segunda: Arqueología: Capítulo III) Arqueología y priscilianismo; Capítulo IV) El viaje de los priscilianistas hacia la ciudad eterna; Capítulo V) El lugar de enterramiento de Prisciliano; Capítulo VI) El éxito del priscilianismo en Gallaecia tras los juicios de Tréveris; Cronología Histórica del Priscilianismo; Conclusiones; Bibliografía; Índice de Personas and Lugares. It is not necessary to comment on all the chapters; nor is there space to do so. It needs to be said that readers will have to have a good command of Spanish and for the notes; German and French would be advisable.

One subject that stands out in Priscillian studies that continues to attract [End Page 510] attention forms Chapter Five. It is on the question as to where Priscillian was buried and more controversially, who is really buried there? This chapter is useful in that the author lays out for the reader the various places that have been proposed for Priscillian's burial place. The author is of the opinion that he was buried in Asturica Augusta. A most instructive map supplements the chapter that identifies the various locations that have been proposed for his sepulcher (163). My critique of this chapter is that it is much too short. It omits an overview of the major scholars and their arguments in the debate over these questions. It is a topic that continues to be relevant and engaged. The most provocative theory that has adherents is the proposition that he was buried in what is now Santiago de Compostela; put another way, Priscillian—not Santiago—is buried there. Lastly, a great deal of material from the notes section should been integrated into the main text.

In terms of overall structure, the notes for many chapters are too dense; sometimes the pages dedicated to notes are as long as or exceed the text. This causes constant interruption when reading, as one has to continually pause to wade through the dense notes. The majority of that content would have been better used by integrating it into the text proper.

The sub-topic of prosopography is another novelty that sets this book apart from other Priscillian studies...


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