Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Religion Comparative Religion

Text and Artifact in the Religions of Mediterranean Antiquity

Essays in Honour of Peter Richardson

edited by Stephen G. Wilson & Michel Desjardins

CCSR, Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Initial publish date
Jan 2006
Comparative Religion, Eastern, Antiquities & Archaeology
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jan 2006
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2016
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2000
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


Can archaeological remains be made to “speak” when brought into conjunction with texts? Can written remains, on stone or papyrus, shed light on the parables of Jesus, or on the Jewish view of afterlife? What are the limits to the use of artifactual data, and when is the value overstated? Text and Artifact addresses the complex and intriguing issue of how primary religious texts from the ancient Mediterranean world are illuminated by, and in turn illuminate, the ever-increasing amount of artifactual evidence available from the surrounding world.

The book honours Peter Richardson, and the first two chapters offer appreciations of this scholarship and teaching. The remaining chapters focus on early Christianity, late-antique Judaism and topics germane to the Roman world at large. Many of the essays relate to features of Jewish life — the epigraphic evidence for gentile converts to Judaism or for Jewish defectors, ancient accounts of the Essenes or of the siege of Masada, and the material context of the first great rabbinic work, the Mishnah. Other essays connect early Christian texts with the social and cultural realia of their day — modes of travel, notions of gender, patronage and benefaction, the relation of tenants and owners — or reflect on the aesthetics of Christian architecture and the relation between building and ritual in Constantinian churches. One study relates the writing of the famous novelist Apuleius to a household mithraeum in Ostia, while another explores the changing appropriation of religious realia as the Roman world became Christian.

These wide-ranging and original studies demonstrate clearly that texts and artifacts can be mutually supportive. Equally, they point to ways in which artifacts, no less than texts, are inherently ambiguous and teach us to be cautious in our conclusions.

About the authors

Stephen G. Wilson is Professor of Religious Studies in the College of the Humanities at Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario.

Michel Desjardins is Associate Professor in the Department of Religion and Culture at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario.

Stephen G. Wilson's profile page

Michel Desjardins is a professor in the Department of Religion and Culture at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Michel Desjardins' profile page

Other titles by Stephen G. Wilson

Other titles by Michel Desjardins