Saturday, May 05, 2018

Review of Cadwallader (ed.), Stones, Bones and the Sacred

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Alan H. Cadwallader (ed.), Stones, Bones and the Sacred: Essays on Material Culture and Religion in Honor of Dennis E. Smith. Early Christianity and its literature. Atlanta: SBL Press, 2016. Pp. xvii, 365. ISBN 9781628371666. $44.68. Reviewed by Bilal Bas, Marmara University (
Stones, Bones, and the Sacred is a collection of 16 essays on material culture and ancient religion in honor of Dennis E. Smith edited by Alan H. Cadwallader. In the first essay, Hal E. Taussig presents a general evaluation of Dennis E. Smith’s scholarship and the final essay is written by Smith himself as a response to the essays. In general, the essays focus on the intersection of material culture, ancient religion, and the texts and practices of early Christianity. Many of the authors attempt to employ the interpretation of material culture in the New Testament exegesis and Christian origins (Ibita, Økland, Huber, Cadwallader, Kurek-Chomycz and Bieringer, Weima, Thompson, and Wilson). A group of scholars employ literary and material evidence in order to explore meals in Greco-Roman world and early Christianity (Ibita, Alikin, Friesen, Schowalter, Dyer, Økland).

All the essays are well-written, learned contributions to their respective fields and thus worth mentioning. However, due to the limited space allowed for a book review, there is room to review only some of them.
Also, Larry Hurtado has some critical comments on the book: “Material Culture” of Early Christianity. He is disappointed with its lack of attention to the material culture of ancient Christian manuscripts. The book is about ancient Christianity, but there is much in it relevant to ancient Judaism as well.

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