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Kitzler, Petr

From ‘Passio Perpetuae’ to ‘Acta Perpetuae’

Recontextualizing a Martyr Story in the Literature of the Early Church

Series:Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte 127

    99,95 € / $140.00 / £91.00*

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    Publication Date:
    April 2015
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    Aims and Scope

    While concentrated on the famous Passio Perpetuae et Felicitatis, this book focuses on an area that has so far been somewhat marginalized or even overlooked by modern interpreters: the recontextualizing of the Passio Perpetuae in the subsequent reception of this text in the literature of the early Church. Since its composition in the early decades of the 3rd century, the Passio Perpetuae was enjoying an extraordinary authority and popularity. However, it contained a number of revolutionary and innovative features that were in conflict with existing social and theological conventions. This book analyses all relevant texts from the 3rd to 5th centuries in which Perpetua and her comrades are mentioned, and demonstrates the ways in which these texts strive to normalize the innovative aspects of the Passio Perpetuae. These efforts, visible as they are already on careful examination of the passages of the editor of the passio, continue from Tertullian to Augustine and his followers. The normalization of the narrative reaches its peak in the so-called Acta Perpetuae which represent a radical rewriting of the original and an attempt to replace it by a purified text, more compliant with the changed socio-theological hierarchies.

    Supplementary Information


    xiv, 159 pages
    Type of Publication:
    Passio Perpetuae et Felicitatis; Acta Perpetuae; martyrdom; Augustine

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    Petr Kitzler, Centre for Classical Studies at the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic.


    "To conclude, [Kitzler's] book provides a highly lucid and wide-ranging overview of research on the Passio Perpetuae: its origins, narrative structure, theological and social implications and subversive nature. [...] [It] will be an important starting point for such research."
    Klazina Staat in: Vigiliae Christianae 71 (2017): 95-110

    "Kitzler's aims are admirably realised in this slim volume: it would form an excellent introduction to the Passio Perpetuae for someone new to this text, and the extensive footnotes are a comprehensive guide to current scholarship and directions for further reading. For the scholar already familiar with the text, the valuable aspect of this work is the reading of its reception history and the demonstration of the ongoing power of its narrative by virtue of the repeated efforts to re-write it."
    Jane McLarty in: Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2017.01.05

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