Epictetus was the sort of figure that only the Roman Empire could have produced. He was born in the Phrygian hills of Anatolia in the middle of the first century. Enslaved and brought to the capital, he served in the household of the freedman Epaphroditos. Epaphroditos, in turn, was in the direct . . . . Continue Reading »
Mary in Early Christian Faith and Devotionby stephen j. shoemaker yale, 304 pages, $28 The Virgin Mary is a shibboleth. Whatever one thinks of Jesus, it is impossible to be neutral about her place in Christian doctrine and devotion. Either Mary is essential to the faith as the Mother of God, or . . . . Continue Reading »
As Matthew Arnold feared, the “Sea of Faith” has retreated—but not evenly. While fashionable atheism, or nebulous spirituality, prevails among intellectuals, religiosity continues to abide among the vast majority of Americans. Dialogue between these two audiences is all too rare, as can be seen in a literary marketplace divided between maudlin dross like Heaven is for Real and vitriolic screeds like Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion.
Justin, known also as “the martyr” for obvious reasons, undertook a defense of Christianity and published his Apology around AD 155-158. But his Apology isn’t an apology at all. It is a legal brief, possibly in reaction to the murder of Polycarp some short while before. Justin’s brief to . . . . Continue Reading »
Allegory fell on hard times in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Although the charm of beloved works of English literature such as Spenser’s Faerie Queene and Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress lies in the imaginative use of allegory, biblical scholars banished the term from their vocabulary. . . . . Continue Reading »