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Christianity in Roman Africa
The Development of Its Practices and Beliefs
J. Patout Burns Jr.
Robin M. Jensen
153 color photos and architectural drawings
HARDCOVER; Published: 11/30/2014
ISBN: 978-0-8028-6931-9
Price: $ 61.99
724 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 7 x 9.5
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In-depth, illustrated exploration of how early North African Christians lived out their faith

Using a combination of literary and archeological evidence, this in-depth, illustrated book documents the development of Christian practices and doctrine in Roman Africa — contemporary Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco — from the second century through the Arab conquest in the seventh century.

Robin Jensen and Patout Burns, in collaboration with Graeme W. Clarke, Susan T. Stevens, William Tabbernee, and Maureen A. Tilley, skillfully reconstruct the rituals and practices of Christians in the ancient buildings and spaces where those practices were performed. Numerous site drawings and color photographs of the archeological remains illuminate the discussions.

This work provides valuable new insights into the church fathers Tertullian, Cyprian, and Augustine. Most significantly, it offers a rich, unprecedented look at early Christian life in Roman Africa, including the development of key rituals and practices such as baptism and eucharist, the election and ordination of leaders, marriage, and burial. In exploring these, Christianity in Roman Africa shows how the early African Christians consistently fought to preserve the holiness of the church amid change and challenge.
Catholic Press Association 2015 Book Award First Place in History
The Catholic Historical Review
"This collaborative book is an impressive work of synthesis covering all major topics of relevance to understanding the daily lives of North African Christians in the first seven centuries of their history. . . . An important work that will be extremely useful to all scholars of late-antique North Africa and early Christianity."
Journal of the American Oriental Society
"Refreshingly well made . . . [this book] is impressive for its ability to telescope out from particular details to their wider historical significance."
Review of Biblical Literature
"An instant classic. . . . No collection of works on early Christianity, Roman history, or ancient North Africa can afford to be without this encyclopedic, impeccably researched, and consistently reliable resource."
John C. Cavadini
— University of Notre Dame
"This is an astonishing compendium integrating history, theology, and material culture. It is really unprecedented. The theology illuminates the art, and the art in turn illuminates the theology — and both make the history come alive, almost right before the reader's eyes. A truly amazing achievement!"
Robert Louis Wilken
— University of Virginia
"One of the many pleasures of this rich and rewarding volume is that it gives the reader a textured portrait of what life was like in Christian communities in the early centuries. Do you want to know how the eucharist was celebrated? Or what rituals were associated with baptism? Or how Christians were buried? Or what a church looked like from the inside? You will find answers here, all documented with literary texts and archeological data and illustrated with stunning pictures."
Allan Fitzgerald
— Villanova University
"A fascinating and very readable contribution to the understanding of Christian North African culture as found in texts (both pastoral and polemical), liturgical artifacts, architecture, iconography, and epigraphy. . . . Provides sweeping yet keenly perceptive and balanced overviews of the historical context in the time from Tertullian to Augustine and beyond."
Elizabeth A. Clark
— Duke University
"Bringing together the extant literary and archeological evidence to illuminate the distinctive teachings and practices of the North African churches, Burns and Jensen's Christianity in Roman Africa is especially valuable for its treatment of archeological and material-culture remains."
Andrew McGowan
— University of Melbourne
"Breaks new ground as an integrated approach to the lived reality of Christian faith in the ancient world. . . . Burns, Jensen, and their collaborators offer rich, nuanced, and sometimes surprising insights into the spiritual and material concerns of an ancient Christianity that itself soon disappeared but that has continued to wield influence ever since."
"A necessary resource for anyone serious about the history of Christianity in North Africa."
"An intellectual tour de force. . . . Highly recommended."
Chronicle of Higher Education
"Examines Christian practices and doctrine in what is today Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco from the second century to the Muslim conquest."
Midwest Book Review
"A massive work of truly impressive and informative scholarship. . . . Superbly organized and presented, making it ideal for both academia and the non-specialist general reader. . . . An essential and very highly recommended addition to seminary, academic, and community library collections."
Theological Studies
"A splendid collaborative effort by six well-known scholars of late-antique archeology, art history, theology, and church history. . . . The time is ripe for this book."
"A detailed examination of the two distinctive Christian rituals (baptism and the Lord's Supper) from the surviving archeology of the region . . . and the extant works of Christian writers of the period."