Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Review: Herrero de Jáuregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity

Miguel Herrero de Jáuregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity. Sozomena. Studies in the Recovery of Ancient Texts 7. Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2010. Pp. xiii, 442. ISBN 9783110206333. $136.00.

Reviewed by Benjamin Garstad, MacEwan University (


Readers seeking a speculative and sensational exposé of intimate and hitherto secret links between phantasmal circles of Orphic adepts and the first Christians will not find one in this book. Instead Herrero de Jáuregui has offered the scholarly world a sober and substantial contribution which is sure to stand the test of time in the form of a philological examination of the testimonies of Orphic texts and practice found in early Christian apologetic literature. This material (the most important examples of which are offered in translation as appendices to the volume) is not only among our best evidence for the phenomenon of Orphism in antiquity, it also represents a telling case-study of the early Christian engagement with the religious and philosophical discourse of the Greek culture which surrounded it, as the early Christians might have said, of which it was a part as contemporary scholars, like Herrero de Jáuregui might say. All those interested in the religious life, both pagan and Christian, of the Imperial centuries should be grateful that this translation has made Herrero de Jáuregui’s 2007 book Tradición órfica y cristianismo antiguo accessible to a wider audience.