James Petitfils

Mos Christianorum

The Roman Discourse of Exemplarity and the Jewish and Christian Language of Leadership

[Mos christianorum. Der römische Diskurs der Beispielhaftigkeit und die jüdische und christliche Sprache der Herrschaft.]

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sewn paper
ISBN 978-3-16-153904-6
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Published in English.
How did Jewish and Christian texts written in highly Romanized environments appropriate, adapt, and redeploy Roman discourse on exemplary leadership? James Petitfils explores the ways in which Josephus' Antiquities or 1 Clement, for example, utilize this discourse in the construction and maintenance of non-Roman ancestral exempla and native languages of leadership.
The preferred moral curriculum of a Roman education abounded with exemplary stories of Rome's native heroes. To inculcate conceptions of virtuous leadership, politicians and populace alike deployed exempla as rhetorical vehicles of the mos maiorum (way of the ancestors). James Petitfils explores Jewish and Christian participation in this widespread pedagogical practice. After surveying Roman discourse on exemplary leadership, the author consults several texts, written in significantly Romanized environments, celebrating Jewish or Christian ancestral leaders (Josephus' Antiquities 2–4, Philo's Mosis 1–2, 1 Clement, and The Letter of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons). He highlights their respective appropriation, adaptation, and redeployment of the Roman moral idiom on exemplary leadership in the promotion of self-consciously non-Roman ancestral exempla and languages of leadership.

James Petitfils Born 1981; 2013 PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles; currently Assistant Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Biola University.


The following reviews are known:

In: Theologische Literaturzeitung — 146 (2021), pp. 156–159 (Eve-Marie Becker)