Maidens, Magic and Martyrs in Early Christianity 978-3-16-154450-7 - Mohr Siebeck

Jan N. Bremmer

Maidens, Magic and Martyrs in Early Christianity

Collected Essays I

[Maiden, Magie und Märtyrer im frühen Christentum. Gesammelte Aufsätze I.]

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ISBN 978-3-16-154450-7
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Published in English.
By combining a profound knowledge of the Greco-Roman world and early Christianity, Jan N. Bremmer sheds new light on many aspects of the early Christians: from women to magic, from apocalypses to the apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, and from pagan observers to visionary martyrs.
In this work, Jan N. Bremmer aims to bring together the worlds of early Christianity and those of ancient history and classical literature – worlds that still all too rarely interlock. Contextualising the life and literature of the early Christians in their Greco-Roman environment, he focusses on four areas. A first section looks at more general aspects of early Christianity: the name of the Christians, their religious and social capital, prophecy and the place of widows and upper-class women in the Christian movement. Second, the chronology and place of composition of the early apocryphal Acts of the Apostles and Pseudo-Clementines are newly determined by paying close attention to their doctrinal contents, but also, innovatively, to their onomastics and social vocabulary. The author also analyses the frequent use of magic in the Acts and explains the prominence of women by comparing the Acts to the Greek novel. Third, an investigation into the theme of the tours of hell suggests a new chronological order, shows that the Christian tours were indebted to both Greek and Jewish models, and illustrates that in the course of time the genre dropped a large part of its Jewish heritage. The fourth and final section concentrates on the most famous and intriguing report of an ancient martyrdom: the Passion of Perpetua. It pays special attention to the motivation and visions of Perpetua, which are analyzed not by taking recourse to modern theories such as psychoanalysis, but by looking to the world in which Perpetua lived, both Christian and pagan. It is only by seeing the early Christians in their ancient world that we might begin to understand them and their emerging communities.

Jan N. Bremmer Born 1944; 1979 PhD; 1978–90 Associate Professor for ancient history at the University of Utrecht; 1990–2009 Chair of Religious Studies at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of the University of Groningen; currently Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg Dynamiken der Religionsgeschichte zwischen Asien und Europa, Bochum.


The following reviews are known:

In: Reading Religion — (Todd Penner)
In: Bulletin for Biblical Research — 28 (2018), S. 155–156 (Peter H. Davids)
In: New Testament Abstracts — 61 (2017), S. 523–524
In: Bryn Mawr Classical Review — (Daniel J. Crosby)