In November, Eerdmans Publishing Company released “Christianity in Roman Africa: The Development of Its Practices and Beliefs” by J. Patout Burns Jr. (Vanderbilt Divinity School) and Robin M. Jensen (Vanderbilt University). The publisher’s description follows:
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.