The Early Modern Invention of Late Antique Rome

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Nicola Denzey Lewis
  • Cambridge: 
    Cambridge University Press
    , June
     440 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


In The Early Modern Invention of Late Antique Rome, Nicola Denzey Lewis challenges the common understanding of late antique Christianity as dominated by the Cult of Saints. Popularized by historian Peter Brown, the Cult of the Saints presupposes that a 'corporeal turn' in the 4th century CE initiated a new sense of the body (even the corpse or bone) as holy. Denzey Lewis argues that although present elsewhere in the late Roman Empire, no such 'corporeal turn' happened in Rome until the early modern period. The prevailing assumption that it did was fostered by the apologetic concerns of early modern Catholic scholars, as well as contemporary attitudes towards death, antiquity, and the survival of the Church against secularism. Denzey Lewis delves deeply into the world of Roman late antique Christianity, exploring how and why it differed from the set of practices and beliefs we have come to think flourished in this crucial age of Christianization.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Nicola Denzey Lewis holds the Margo L. Goldsmith Chair in Women's Studies in Religion at Claremont Graduate University. A recipient of research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies, along with additional support from, among other sources, the American Academy of Religion and the International Catacomb Society, she serves on the editorial boards of Gnosis and the Journal of Early Christian Studies.


Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.