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Martyrdom, Literary Experiment and Church Politics in Jerome’s Epistula Prima, to Innocentius, on the septies percussa

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image of Vigiliae Christianae

Jerome’s Epistula prima is a remarkably hybrid text. It contains a miraculous account of the trial and failed execution of a woman from Vercelli, who is falsely accused of adultery and eventually saved from further persecution by Jerome’s patron, Evagrius of Antioch. In our article we discuss the martyrological and novelistic elements of Jerome’s text and analyze how he related a cruel, but trivial trial with anonymous protagonists to contemporary Church politics and gave it an ascetical undertone. Furthermore, we link these elements to the interests of Jerome’s intended readership. Overall, we argue that Jerome wrote the Epistula prima not only as a hyper-rhetorical showcase to advertise himself as a Christian writer or to eulogize Evagrius, but that he included subtle yet meaningful literary and ideological references in his text.

Affiliations: 1: Universiteit Gent, vakgroep Wijsbegeerte en MoraalwetenschapBlandijnberg 2, Gent; 2: Universiteit Gent, vakgroep Wijsbegeerte en MoraalwetenschapBlandijnberg 2,


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