Monday, April 11, 2016

Review of Eastman, The Ancient Martyrdom Accounts of Peter and Paul

David L. Eastman, The Ancient Martyrdom Accounts of Peter and Paul. Writings from the Greco-Roman World 39. Atlanta: SBL Press, 2015. Pp. xxv, 469. ISBN 9781628370904. $59.95.

Reviewed by Adam Carter McCollum, Institut für Byzantinistik und Neogräzistik, Universität Wie (


This volume collects several more or less related texts on the post-biblical tales about Peter and Paul. Like other volumes in the series, the texts appear in both the original or an early translation, and in English translation. Short introductions and a modicum of notes accompany the texts. The goal is, it seems, to shed more light on texts beyond the commonly studied Acts of Peter and Acts of Paul (both of which are also included in this volume) and to bring those texts into the discussion of the martyrdom traditions of these two major Christian figures (see especially p. xxii). That goal the author has achieved. These texts include some Greek and Latin texts, but Eastman especially singles out Syriac texts as having been unduly ignored. Consequently, Syriac has a relatively large place in the book. This inclusion is another sign of the happy trend to make the border between the Greco-Latin textual sphere and that of other languages (Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, etc.) less impassable and the territory on both sides better known. Eastman goes so far as to speak of earlier considerations of these (and presumably other similar) texts as having “been hampered by a kind of myopia”, considerations that consider “voices that are not in Latin or Greek” as “variant voices” (p. xxiv). He is not wrong, and even if his textual catalog and presentation might have been even more comprehensive, the fact that he puts Syriac texts as equals beside Greek and Latin texts marks a welcome corrective.

The book was noted here when it came out. Cross-file under New Testament Apocrypha Watch.