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Memory In Ancient Rome And Early Christianity

"Traces early Christian interpretations of the story of John the Baptist's death by means of memory theory and reception theory, arguing that early Christians used John's beheading to justify hostility toward Jews"

Memory in ancient Rome and early christianity

Over the past three decades, archaeology has seen an increasing interest in the relation between culture and memory. In the field of ancient Rome, Karl Galinsky has been the pioneer of this development, with works such as Memoria Romana: Memory in Rome and Rome in Memory (2014), Memory in Ancient Rome and Early Christianity (2016) and Cultural Memories in the Roman Empire (2016).

In archaeology, where we mainly work with tangible material evidence, we tend to underestimate the influence of cultural memory, but archaeological data are not just facts. They are always interpreted by humans and should be understood in the light of cultural identity and changing ideologies. We need always to have this in mind when considering the archaeology of early Rome. The cultural memory of later times should be treated critically and held up against the material evidence that is actually available from the period itself. But of course, there is no harm in using the occasion of the 21 April to have fun and think back on the long history of Rome.

It's probably in these early days after the death of Jesus that the movement really starts to reorganize around his memory... it's probably very much dependent upon this growing understanding that he had been raised from the dead. It seems to have circulated very quickly among his followers, but the earliest form of the movement is still thoroughly a sect within Judaism. He is a Jewish Messiah. They are followers of a Jewish apocalyptic tradition. They are expecting the coming of the kingdom of God on earth. It's a Jewish movement.

We have in the four gospels of the New Testament, passion narratives, narratives of Jesus' suffering and death. Outside of the New Testament canon, we have only one more extensive narrative of Jesus' suffering and death, and that has appeared in the Gospel of Peter. Now it was known in ancient times that there was such a thing as the Gospel of Peter. Eusebius of Caesarea, the earliest church historian at the beginning of the 4th century, tells about the fact that there was a Gospel of Peter which was used by some communities in Syria.But no one really knew what was in this gospel until at the end of the last century papyrus was discovered, which was a small amulet that a soldier had been wearing around his neck and which was given into the tomb of this soldier, and when it was opened up it turned out to be a text that told the story of the suffering and death and resurrection of Jesus. But it is told in such a way that one can assume that it was not dependent upon the canonical gospels that we have. But that at least part of this gospel goes back to the same story, but draws from the oral tradition of the telling of that story, or from some older gospel as somescholars believe that is preserved here. What is interesting in this Gospel of Peter is that it shows in some instances more clearly the direct dependence of the passion narrative upon the prophecy and psalms and suffering servant stories of the Hebrew Bible, and therefore gives us an insight in the development of the passion narrative....

The aim is to find a place and context for Authentikos Logos within early Christianity, but Tervahauta also adds new insight into the scholarship of the Nag Hammadi Library and study of early Christianity. Contrary to the usual discussion of the Nag Hammadi writings from the viewpoint of Gnostic studies, she argues that Authentikos Logos is best approached from the context of Christian traditions of late ancient Egypt between the third and the fifth centuries.

With this book Ulla Tervahauta makes an important contribution to the study of early Christianity in late ancient Egypt by discussing a writing thatshows knowledge and creative combination of literary traditions that circulated in late ancient Egypt.

The concepts of social memory and social identity have been increasingly used in the study of ancient Jewish and Christian sources. In this collection of articles, international specialists apply interdisciplinary methodology related to these concepts to early Jewish and Christian sources. The volume offers an up-to-date presentation of how social memory studies and socio-psychological identity approach have been used in the study of Biblical and related literature. The articles examine how Jewish and Christian sources participate in the processes of collective recollection and in this way contribute to the construction of distinctive social identities. The writers demonstrate the benefits of the use of interdisciplinary methodologies in the study of early Judaism and Christianity but also discuss potential problems that have emerged when modern theories have been applied to ancient material.

1. One hundred and fifty years have passed since my Predecessor, Bl. Pius IX, authorized the first plan of operation worked out by the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology that had been established a short time before to enlarge the collection of Christian antiquities, to gather them in suitable premises and to create a museum for them, subsequently called the (Pope) Pius Christian Museum (Museo Cristiano-Pio). Bl. Pius IX entrusted to this commission the task to work with prudent discernment to ensure "that all the items which could ... edify the devout by reminding them of the simplicity of the catacombs and that are not in danger of being lost, as far as possible stay in place in the catacombs" (in Archivio della Società Romana di Storia Patria, 91 [1968], 259). When he published the venerated Pontiff's mandate on 6 January 1852, Cardinal Giacomo Antonelli, then Secretary of State, announced the definite membership of the commission that included such distinguished and farsighted scholars as Fr Giuseppe Marchi S.J. and Giovanni Battista De Rossi. On this happy anniversary, I asked Cardinal Angelo Sodano, my Secretary of State, to greet warmly and encourage strongly the distinguished members of today's Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology to continue conserving, studying and making known the precious heritage of the venerable memories of the Church, and particularly of the catacombs of Rome and Italy. Catacombs: Popes Zephyrinus, Callistus, Damasus and Pius XI 2. On this occasion, how can I fail to emphasize the great veneration with which the Roman Pontiffs have conserved the memories of the Christian community, disseminated throughout the city of Rome and throughout the Italian peninsula since its origins? The decision of Pope Zephyrinus, for example, is worth mentioning. He was the first to create the catacombs on the Appian Way and he made the deacon Callistus responsible for them. This, the largest complex of catacombs, was later to take the name of Callistus who became Pope and succeeded Zephyrinus. Another Pope deeply committed to spreading appreciation for the catacombs was Pope Damasus, who during his Pontificate sought out the tombs of the martyrs and embellished them with splendid metric epigraphs in memory of the acts of these first witnesses to the faith. In the last century, confirming and updating the provisions of his immediate Predecessors, Pope Pius XI, with his Moto proprio "I primitivi cemeteri", enlarged and strengthened the Commission of Sacred Archaeology, "so that the ancient monuments of the Church [might] be conserved in the best possible way for the study of the learned and for the veneration and fervent devotion of the faithful from every nation" (AAS 17 [1925], 621). The providential initiative of that great Pontiff was in keeping with the special nature of the Holy Year of 1925, in which crowds of pilgrims came to pay homage at the memories of the Church of Rome. Thus as always, it was a pre-eminently pastoral and spiritual goal that induced the Successors of the Apostle Peter to give new life to the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology. Catacombs recall communion that unites the living and the dead, earth and heaven, time and eternity 3. The catacombs have represented a cornerstone of piety and unity for believers in every age. In them, eloquent testimonies to the holiness of the Church are lovingly safeguarded and revered. They recall the communion that unites the living and the dead, earth and heaven, time and eternity. In those sacred places waiting for the glorious coming of Christ are those who were marked with the seal of Baptism, and often, many who witnessed to the Gospel with the supreme trial of bloodshed. I would like to quote in full, from among many, the admirable epigraph that Pope St Damasus composed in honour of St Saturninus the Martyr, whom the liturgy commemorates today. The words can be applied to the many who gave their life for Christ and now sleep in peace, awaiting the day without end when the Lord will come again in glory. It is a tribute we would like to pay to our brothers and sisters in the faith: Epigraph of Pope Damasus for St. Saturninus Citizen now of Christ, formerly of Carthage, The moment the sword pierced the Mother's holy breast, through her blood he changed country, name and lineage, the birth to the life of the saints made him a Roman citizen. His faith was wonderful: as his heroic death would later show. His enemy Gratianus trembled while he tore his holy members; but though all his venomous rage exploded, he could not induce you, O Saint, to deny Christ; indeed through your prayers he even deserved to die a Christian. This is the will of the suppliant Damasus: venerate this tomb! [Here it is given to fulfil vows and to pour out chaste prayers, because it is the tomb of the martyr St Saturninus] To you, O Martyr Saturninus, I pay my prayerful homage. (Epigrammata Damasiana, edited by A. Ferrua, Rome 1942, p. 188-189). In the light of these inspired verses, how can one deny that the catacombs are one of the historical symbols of Christ's victory over evil and sin? They are still standing to prove that the storms unleashed against the Church can never destroy her, because she is founded on the Lord's promise "the powers of death shall not prevail against her" (Mt 16,18). Silent message of Christian memories helps Christians stay faithful to 'depositum fidei' 4. I am also pleased to recall that the commission of which you are the President is not only concerned to conserve "these vestiges of the People of God" properly, but also seeks to gather and spread the religious and cultural message they evoke. In fact, the contribution of those who work with you encompasses technical, scientific, epigraphical, anthropological, theological and liturgical expertise. This enables the Church to become better acquainted with the heritage left by the generations of early Christians. Thanks to the constant message that this patrimony silently proclaims, the Christian people are encouraged to remain faithful to the depositum fidei, received as a precious treasure to be safeguarded with care. The distinguished interventions of the experts of the commission, in the course of the past 150 years are, and remain, important for their scientific, and especially, for their religious and ecclesial character. On this happy Jubilee I desire to express my deep gratitude for the immense and generous dedication with which each member contributes to enriching this historical and pastoral patrimony. I also hope that the work of the Pontifical Commission will be better known, so as to satisfy the desire of those who want to become familiar with the testimonies of the ones who preceded them in the sign of the faith. The young generations coming into contact in turn with the steadfastness of faith of the early Christians will feel deeply moved by these monuments and memories to live the Gospel coherently, even at the cost of personal sacrifice. With these sentiments I express to you, Venerable Brother, the Members of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, those who cooperate and all those who will take part in the scheduled programme, my wholehearted appreciation. I entrust each of you to Mary, Mother of the Church, and I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to every one as a pledge of abundant heavenly favours. From the Vatican, 12 February 2002, Memorial of the Martyrs, Sts Saturninus and Companions. John Paul II L'Osservatore Romano, Editorial and Management Offices, Via del Pellegrino, 00120, Vatican City, Europe, Telephone 39/6/698.99.390. 041b061a72


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