Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review – The Story of the New Testament Text

Robert F. Hull, Jr., The Story of the New Testament Text:  Movers, Materials, Motives, Methods, and Models, (Leiden and Boston:  Brill, 2011)

Hull NT TextThis wonderful monograph tells two stories simultaneously:  the story of the New Testament text and its transmission from the earliest extant copies up to the latest scholarly Greek editions, and the story of the development of the discipline of New Testament textual criticism from early figures such as Origin and Jerome, to the emergence of the modern critics like Erasmus and Westcott and Hort, to the latest shapers of the discipline like Bart Ehrman, Kim Haines-Eitzen, and David Parker.  The development of the discipline is indeed the primary emphasis, as author Robert Hull (recently retired Dean and Professor of New Testament, Emmanuel School of Religion) focuses attention on movers (significant figures in the discipline), materials (important sources and documents), motives (the goals of various movers), methods (criteria by which certain movers made decisions), and models (examples of methods in practice).

Although the primary audience is seminary, divinity, and grad students of New Testament, this book would also be useful in undergraduate bible courses or even for the lay reader, provided that the reader has enough New Testament background to understand the general idea of textual criticism.   Although Hull provides some preliminary material explaining the reasons that textual criticism is necessary and the general goals of the discipline, this is certainly not an introductory level book.  I would think the most natural place for this book would be in a seminary or graduate level course on textual criticism, alongside readings from Westcott and Hort, Metzger, Epp, Ehrman, Haines-Eitzen, and Parker.  Unfortunately, as Hull laments, such courses are difficult to find.  I certainly was unable to take one over the course of my graduate career (all of the authors mentioned above I read independently), and found that interest is quite low even at the Ph.D level.

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Book Review – Enticed By Eden

Linda S. Schearing and Valarie H. Ziegler, Enticed By Eden, (Waco:  Baylor University Press, 2013) or order from Amazon.

In this extremely readable book, Linda Schearing (Professor of Hebrew Scriptures, Gonzaga University) and Valarie Ziegler (Professor of Religious Studies and Women’s Studies, DePauw University) examine the ways that Christian and secular culture both compete and conspire to redefine, recreate, and recycle the symbolism, characters, and themes of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, the snake, and the forbidden fruit.  As a philologically-inclined textual scholar, I was slightly disappointed at the lack of textual and exegetical analysis in the book, but this was obviously not one of the goals of the book, and it undoubtedly made the book more accessible to the non-academic reader.  Furthermore, the authors’ analysis of the interactions of contemporary Western culture with ancient scripture was for the most part extremely insightful and engaging (I will address a few complaints below).

Sch and Zieg EdenThe book is organized into two halves, with three comically-named chapters in each half.  The first half, termed “Recreating Eden,” analyzes the ways that contemporary Christians find in Genesis 1-3 prescriptions for  gender roles, sexual norms, and proper Christian dating or courtship practices, and attempt to impose those ideals on contemporary society.  These chapters focus specifically on what the authors consistently refer to as “conservative evangelical Christians,” but I would I would identify these groups as “fundamentalist” or “extremely conservative.” 

The first chapter, titled “Someday My Prince Will Come—When Eden Becomes Camelot” challenges the ways which extremely conservative Christians construct gender norms—especially those of women—and the ways that girls ought to relate to men.  The authors convincingly demonstrate that most of these gender and sexual ideals (females as pure princesses, subject to their fathers, waiting for their prince) do not derive from Genesis at all, and are instead the result of poor or nonexistent exegesis and the incorporation of medieval and romantic cultural constructs into contemporary Christian culture.

The second chapter observes how the characters of Adam and Eve manifest on Christian online dating websites.  There are many such websites, and all of them look to Adam and Eve for the example of appropriate behavior between men and women, which is odd since Adam and Eve did not need to seek out their mate!  The relationships between extremely conservative Christian men and women can be very difficult, given that some reject “dating” altogether in favor of courtship or betrothal, and those who accept dating usually advise girls not to initiate relationships, and still others teach girls how to manipulate slow-moving men into proposing.  Indeed, the advice given on Christian websites reflects the diversity of opinion, but most of it still reflects a commitment to a degree of female subordination and passivity.

The third chapter highlights the role of Adam as “alpha male” in extremely conservative interpretation, and examines the practice of wife spanking as a way of enforcing the hierarchical gender roles within Christian marriage.  The authors describe the bizarre world of Christian Domestic Discipline in detail, having obviously spent many hours scouring internet discussion boards on the practice.  Most of the practitioners described three types of spankings:  “playful,” semi-erotic spanking sessions, moderate “maintenance” sessions, and severe and painful “disciplinary” sessions.  Many women—by their own accounts—apparently welcome the stability that they find in a strong disciplinarian husband, and some describe becoming very aroused after being spanked.  The authors, however, rightfully caution that the practice verges on abuse, especially the severe disciplinary spankings, which in some cases lasted nearly an hour, and in some marriages were followed by forced sex. 

I was disappointed, though, by the authors’ predominantly descriptive approach and their failure to undermine the biblical interpretation on which this practice is founded.  They explain the spanking practitioners’ apologetics well enough, but do little to counter with trained academic analysis of Genesis 1-3.  Furthermore, I was disappointed with the authors’ consistent failure throughout this first section to identify exactly what sorts of Christians were involved in producing and maintaining these ideals and behaviors.  Throughout the section, the authors simply refer to “conservative evangelicals” without qualification, thereby reifying an entire religious community and identifying it with misogynist ideals and practices. 

The second half, termed “Recycling Eden,” deals with the use of the themes and characters in the Eden story in popular culture, including jokes, advertising, and the entire adult industry.  These chapters focus on the ways that gender stereotypes are reinforced or challenged through the use of Adam and Eve in jokes, as well as the way that advertisers co-opt themes such as taboo, forbidden fruit, and persuasion to sell their products to contemporary consumers. 

Chapter four explores representations of gender stereotypes through online humor.  The authors categorize these jokes as either sexist (derogatory toward Eve and women), feminist (derogatory toward Adam and men), and post-feminist (contain elements that are critical toward both men and women).  These categories create a false sense of temporal progression, despite the fact that they can all be found on the internet today.  For this reason, I would have advised finding a different way of naming the categories.  At any rate, the authors find that all three categories variously support gender stereotypes (women as emotional, insecure, sensual, and either undersexed or manipulative with her sexuality; men as rational, individualistic, aggressive, insensitive, and hypersexual), as well as undermine them by changing the elements of the Genesis story.

Chapter five focuses on contemporary advertising and the use of the “temptation” or “forbidden fruit theme” in advertisements.  The authors point out that the characters Adam, Eve, and the serpent, and the setting in the garden are often used in a wide variety of ads as a cultural signal to the consumer.  Often, the product being sold is then set up as a substitute for the forbidden fruit, especially in the case of taboo products such as gambling, alcohol, and tobacco.  Alternatively, following the “sex sells” school of thought, many ads focus on Eve as temptress as a way of seducing the consumer.  This approach is utilized for products from clothing, to fragrances, to television shows, to alcohol, and is the strategy most maligned by the authors for its explicit objectification and sexualization of women.

Chapter six further focuses in on the characters of Adam and Eve as the first sexually active couple, and the “sexploitation” of them by the adult industry.  The main discussion in this chapter revolves around the Adam & Eve adult empire, which includes pornography, condoms, and sex toys.  The company’s founder, Phil Harvey, began the company with the specific intention of promoting a “sex-positive” movement.  He had previously run a mail-order condom catalogue business, which subsidized his philanthropic efforts to increase global access to condoms, family planning, and AIDS/HIV prevention.  The authors predictably question his success in that effort, especially his libertarian philosophy that pornography or any other “sexual free speech” are harmless as long as they are shared among consenting adults.  Even as they criticize Harvey’s stance on pornography, the authors take greatest issue with his appropriation of the Eden story for his own purposes:  “…the end result is that Harvey has successfully turned ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’ into consumer commodities and made their very names into his own ‘brand’” (148).

While I share in Schearing and Ziegler’s dismay over the commodification of biblical stories, symbols, and characters, I have a difficult time blaming any single entrepreneur for this phenomenon.  After all, it takes a great many consumers responding positively to such marketing to support a company.  In a free market system, these advertisers would not utilize such techniques if they did not work.  Marketers are able to co-opt religious symbols and characters, to manipulate their meanings, and to put symbols and themes to uses that are unrelated and sometimes contradictory to their original meanings because Western consumerism has created an environment which encourages shallow engagement with both marketing strategies and the products they are designed to sell.

Overall, this book is a very good investigation into the ways that contemporary Christian and secular culture uses and misuses the symbols, characters, and themes of the Genesis 1-3 story.  I noticed a constant tension throughout the book regarding depictions of females and sexuality:  on one hand, the authors criticize ultra-conservative Christian subjugation of female sexuality to the control of her father or husband; on the other hand, when presented with a popular culture advertisement of a woman clearly in control of her own sexuality, the authors denounce it as another incarnation of the “tired cliché of Eve as temptress and Adam as victim” (120).  Regardless of this apparent indecision on the part of the authors (which I think is symptomatic of contemporary feminism at large), this book provides an enlightening and much needed look at depictions of Adam, Eve, and the Garden in contemporary culture.  Biblical scholars will be disappointed by the lack of textual engagement but will be otherwise pleased, while students of gender and popular culture will thoroughly enjoy this book.

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Book Review – Ancient Christian Martyrdom

Candida Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom, (New Haven:  Yale University Press, 2012)

Modern histories of martyrdom have tended to take one of two approaches:  1) they attempt to reconstruct the history of martyrdom genealogically, tracing it from its modern definition backward into antiquity in an attempt to find the origin of the idea and practice; 2)  they attempt to explain the existence of martyrdom in spite of the seeming irrationality of the act, flying in the face of the assumption that human beings naturally seek a long, healthy life, and will generally do anything to avoid death.

Both approaches have tended to find the origin of martyrdom somewhere in the second century, when, it is argued, the meaning of the Greek term μάρτυς (martys, “a witness”) shifted from its sense of a courtroom witness to the idea of a person who died for Christ.  Similarly, the corresponding term μαρτύριον (martyrion, “testimony”) shifted from the legal testimony provided by a witness to referring to martyrdom, the act of dying rather than recanting the Christian faith.

In her book Ancient Christian Martyrdom:  Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions, Candida Moss (Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, Notre Dame University) questions and problematizes both of these approaches, arguing that they both rely on the presupposition of a single, monolithic notion of martyrdom that can be tracked back to a single origin.  She argues that attempts to reconstruct the linguistic evolution of the term μαρτύς have been weighted too heavily, and give a false sense of uniformity of thought on the practice.  On the contrary, the idea of martyrdom is not synonymous with any specific linguistic term.  Furthermore, identification of the origin of martyrdom with the birth of the linguistic term privileges Christianity, and assumes martyrs could not have existed before the existence of the term for martyr—this would exclude classic examples such as the Maccabees, Daniel, and Socrates.

Moss MartyrdomInstead, Moss treats martyrdom as a discursive formation by which early Christians shaped their own identities, interpreted experience, and defined community boundaries.  Rejecting the presupposition of a single definition of martyrdom, she instead examines the ways that ideologies of martyrdom varied in different places and cultural settings in the ancient world.  She furthermore finds precursors to Christian martyrdom in ancient Greek and Jewish ideologies of honor, a noble death, and commitment to one’s values.

In the first chapter, Moss surveys the intellectual, cultural, religious, and literary traditions that might have influenced the Christian construction of martyrdom, providing a “reservoir that sustained the early Christian imagination” (19).  This chapter identifies Greek ideas concerning the importance of a noble death exemplified by Socrates, sacrificial death exemplified by Jesus, and commitment to religious law exemplified by Daniel and the Maccabees as important influences on the construction of Christian martyrdom ideology.

The following chapters examine attitudes toward martyrdom in specific literary and geographical contexts.  Chapter 2 begins with Asia Minor and the infamous letters of Ignatius and the Martyrdom of Polycarp, which many have considered to be some of the earliest evidence for a developed theology of martyrdom.  Moss complicates this evidence by noting the complex textual history and the impossibility of dating these works.  She nevertheless finds them informative in identifying a martyrological tradition in Asia Minor, because they both focus on the death of the martyr as a sacrificial death mimicking that of Christ.  Furthermore, Polycarp’s stoic strength and self-control throughout his execution casts him as a Christian Socrates.  Thus, “Polycarp is a fusion of Christ figure and Greco-Roman heroic male…” (76).

The third chapter addresses the martyrdom literature that is associated with Rome, most notably that of Justin Martyr.  Justin’s writings, the Dialogue with Trypho and his Apologies, construct an ideology of martyrdom as suffering as a way to define the boundaries of Christianity.  For Justin, Christians suffer unjustly “for the name only,” at the hands of the Romans, and this suffering (and endurance) becomes a way to distinguish Christians from other groups.  Romans and Jews are both cast as persecutors, and those who claim to be Christians but who reject martyrdom are labeled heretics.  Justin is thus able to stake out the boundaries of Christian orthodoxy by constructing martyrdom and its accompanying suffering as identifying markers of Christianity.

Chapter 4 takes up martyrdom in Gaul, a problematic region because of its traditional association with Asian Christianity through Irenaeus.  Still, Moss finds sufficient evidence in the Letter of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons, as well as Irenaeus’ writings, to argue for a distinct theology of martyrdom in Gaul.  Noting that these writings are the only second-century accounts to focus on Stephen as protomartyr, Moss sees the martyrs in the Letter as imitators of Christ.  In addition, and distinguishing them from Polycarp, Irenaus and the Letter show an interest in the cosmic battle with Satan as described in Revelation and the Gospel of John.  Thus, the bodies of the martyrs simultaneously imitate the death of Christ and house the battle with Satan.

In chapter 5, Moss examines martyrdom in North Africa, focusing on the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs and the Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas.  Although some have portrayed North African martyrdom material as apocalyptic based on the violence, suffering, and death in Perpetua’s visions and in her physical existence, Moss cautions that such apocalyptic elements should not eclipse the rest of the account.  She sees Perpetua as another example of the virtuous death, especially due to her execution in the amphitheater as part of the gladiatorial spectacle.  The text intentionally masculinizes Perpetua in body and character by making her courageous and strong, but maintains her femininity by having her modestly rearrange her dress and adjusting her hairpin.  Perpetua hovers between masculine and feminine until she finally guides the gladiator’s sword to her own throat.

Finally, chapter 6 examines Alexandria and the way that Clement of Alexandria rhetorically carves out a “middle ground” in martyrdom theology between “zealously pro-martyrdom” groups and “anti-martyrdom” groups as a way of claiming authority for the “orthodox middle.”  Moss questions the scholarly tendency to reify the binary between the orthodox and the heterodox attitudes toward martyrdom, arguing that these are instead constructions of later church leaders.  According to Moss, “The discourse of martyrdom was a valuable tool in ancient claims to authority” (20).

This book makes significant contributions to our understanding of early Christian thought about martyrdom.  Far from the homogenous ideological history that many scholars have attempted to narrate, Moss demonstrates conclusively that there existed a wide variety of practices and beliefs surrounding martyrdom in antiquity, which varied from region to region and even from one text to another.

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Book Review – Strong Arms and Drinking Strength

Jarrod Whitaker, Strong Arms and Drinking Strength, (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2011)

Just as the war god Indra overthrew the cosmic adversary Vrtra to free the cattle and the rivers from Vrtra’s serpentine coils, so also Jarrod Whitaker’s (Associate Professor of South Asian Religions, Religion Graduate Program Director, Wake Forest University) book represents a watershed in Rgvedic masculinity studies.  In Strong Arms and Drinking Strength, Whitaker points out that the Rgvedic hymns are rife with 9780199755707androcentric language, praise of masculinity and martial acumen, references to Indra as the hypermasculine prototype which human (Aryan) men should imitate, and contentions that ritual participation—especially in the soma ritual—is essential for strengthening the gods Indra, Agni, and Soma, as well as Aryan men.  He simultaneously laments the fact that despite this abundance of material in the Rgveda, no focused study has formerly been conducted on the relationship between the ritual performances and the ways that these practices and discourse interact to construct, reconstruct, legitimize, and perpetuate the ideal of masculinity for Aryan men.

The soma ritual involves the ritual pressing of an ephedra-based plant, mixing the resulting juice with milk and ghee, and making an offering of it to the gods Indra, Agni, and Soma.  The gods are depicted as drinking large quantities of soma, which strengthens them to perform their manly and martial deeds.  The ritual also involves the human participants drinking the soma, which is likewise said to make them strong and manly in participation with the gods.

Whitaker is careful to note that the physiological effects of the drink are irrelevant to the study at hand.  Drawing on the work of ritual and social theorists such as Catherine Bell, Pierre Bourdieu, and Michel Foucault, Whitaker explains the ancient soma ritual as a way for Aryan poet-priests to encode specific male roles into men, embedding ideals such as martial prowess, political influence, and control of resources into the very idea of manhood.  They accomplish this by reproducing masculine, androcentric, and martial ideals over and over with each ritual performance, creating an image of the ideal Aryan man as virile and powerful, by socializing them in the patriarchal ritual tradition, and by maintaining control of the ritual, economic, and political relationships within the community.

Beginning from a basic understanding that biological sex does not determine an individual’s conformance to socially and culturally constructed gender norms, Whitaker explains that Rgvedic masculine ideals are not imposed by the poet-priests upon unwilling Aryan men, nor do they make up a monolithic social system that is accepted uncritically.  On the contrary, based on limited evidence of delineated class structures in the Rgvedic period, Whitaker suggests that the ritual performances included poet-priests, warriors, and chieftains, and that the distinctions between these “classes” were usually blurred.  Instead, Whitaker follows Bell’s definition of ideology, explaining that these ideals are embedded by a process that depicts certain social and cultural practices as “natural” and right.”  Furthermore, the strategic practice of the soma ritual does not only reflect meaning, it is part of a Foucaultian “discursive formation,” which plays a direct role in constructing what it means to be a man in Aryan society.  Finally, Whitaker explains why Aryan men participate in the ritual performances and accept the dominant ideology of masculinity despite the fact that it calls for them to act violently and to put themselves at risk of injury or death by pointing to Bourdieu’s notion of “symbolic capital.”  This symbolic capital is a sort of cultural currency which may be accumulated in the form of prestige, fame, or honor, and which, if deployed strategically, may be converted into monetary capital.  Symbolic capital legitimizes its holder in a way that is not articulated explicitly; rather, it is “misrecognized” in a way that allows the privileged to remain in power and to legitimate the otherwise arbitrary system of power.  In this way, Whitaker argues that Aryan men participate in the soma ritual in order to gain symbolic capital, social legitimacy, political authority, and economic prosperity.

If you are not into all this theory, do not be discouraged; Whitaker’s argument actually proceeds quite philologically.  The first three chapters focus on word studies which examine the way which the poetic discourse of the Rgveda encodes meaning into the bodies of Aryan men.  The first chapter concentrates on the common terms used for “man” (nar) and “manhood, masculinity” (nrmna, paumsya).  It argues that Rgvedic poet-priests use these words to simultaneously reflect and recreate a dominant androcentric ideology by closely aligning the identities of human men to those of the gods Indra and Agni, the exemplars of masculinity.  The second chapter centers on and examination of the terms vira and virya (cognate to English virile, virility, through Latin vir (man) and Proto-Indo-European *uiHro), which communicate a man’s role as warrior and his power and strength.  The use of these terms creates a society in which a man’s primary role is that of a warrior, where his body is a commodity, and where his primary way of gaining resources is through violence.  The third chapter focuses on the specialized term sura (big/strong man, champion), and its use to describe Indra, his cosmic battle with Vrtra, and the relationship between strength and control of natural and symbolic resources.

These chapters admittedly get a little technical, and having no background in Sanskrit, I do not possess the tools to evaluate the quality of Whitaker’s translations.  I can say, though, that the main thrust of the argument is never lost, and his use of the Rgvedic stanzas is for the most part clear when you make use of his translations.  For me, though, the action is in the fourth chapter and the conclusion.  In these chapters, Whitaker brings together the understandings of the words studied in the previous chapter and brings them to bear on the soma ritual.  Whitaker concludes:

It is in the act of drinking soma that ritual practitioners directly influence, if not control, individual bodies and political institutions.  Furthermore, in continually expressing political power by way of physical metaphors and reducing such power to the body, poet-priests make any direct claim for political authority contingent on physical invigoration from ritual substances and rhetoric, and on a ritually constructed understanding of the male body (156).

As a former student of Dr. Whitaker’s, the only disappointment I had with this book was the failure to bring the argument home as he did in class.  I distinctly remember him  commenting in class that this is not only about ancient India; we have many contemporary issues which are highlighted by the study of ancient religion.  There are specific ways that the argument applies to modern constructions of masculinity, which will be evident to the perceptive reader, but which Whitaker did not make explicit in the book.  Symbolic capital is earned by men who “act like men,” by playing football, owning a fast car, making a lot of money, tolerating pain, suppressing emotion, or by holding his liquor well.

Whitaker’s book brings to light an aspect of Rgvedic studies that had previously been neglected.  It also makes a valuable contribution to the field of gender studies.  It will be appreciated by Vedic scholars, general religion students, as well as those casually interested in religious and masculinity studies.

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Book Review – The Praetorian Guard

As part of the interview weekend for Ph.D candidates that I attended at Baylor University in February, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Carey Newman, Director of the Baylor University Press.  He was kind enough to pass out free books to those who attended.  I received Sandra Bingham’s The Praetorian Guard.  I read it, enjoyed it, and have decided to make it the inaugural book review on this blog to express my gratitude to Dr. Newman.

ImageSandra Bingham, The Praetorian Guard, (Waco:  Baylor Press, 2013).

In this well-written and thoroughly researched book, Sandra Bingham (teaching fellow, University of Edinburgh) investigates the Praetorian Guard, the elite Roman military force whose primary responsibility it was to protect the emperor.  Bingham, however, takes special care to point out the many and varied other duties that the guard also performed both in the city of Rome as well as in the field.

Bingham finds the genesis of the guard in the republican period, when military commanders used praetorian cohorts as their personal bodyguards in the field.  In the republican period, however, troops were not allowed to enter the capital, so it was an intentional demonstration of power when triumvirs Octavian, Antony, and Lepidus entered Rome in 43 BCE, separately and on three consecutive days, each with his own praetorian cohort.  After Octavian’s victory at Actium, he took over Antony’s praetorian cohorts, combining them with his own to create the imperial Praetorian Guard.

From this beginning under Augustus, Bingham traces the history of the guard until its disbandment in 312 CE by Constantine.  She focuses especially on dispelling the notion that the guard functioned exclusively as a bodyguard for the emperor.  Instead, the presence of these elite troops within Rome proved convenient for Augustus and subsequent emperors, because they delegated many and varied tasks to the guard.  The guard was probably involved in crowd control and security at large events from very early.  In addition, certain members of the guard, called speculatores, were regularly involved in clandestine activities, including couriering imperial correspondence and spying on people deemed to be a threat.  Epictetus reports that a spy might “sit down next to you and start to denounce the emperor.”  Then, having the security of the other starting the conversation, you join in, “and are immediately carted off to prison.”  The speculatores were also regularly involved in the guarding and execution of prisoners, especially of condemned political prisoners, in order to ensure their inability to communicate with their followers (for example, the imprisonment of Herod Agrippa under Tiberius; Mithridates under Claudius, and the apostle Paul under Nero).

In 6 CE, Augustus formed another group of the guard, called vigiles, which was permanently responsible for fighting fires, and may have also been involved in policing the streets at night.  Ironically, the actions of the vigiles in setting preemptory “counter-fires” in an attempt to bring the famous blaze of 64 CE under control may have added fuel to the rumors that Nero had started the blaze himself.

It was essential that the guard’s allegiance was to the person of the emperor himself, for many of these tasks required immediate obedience, tact, and secrecy, and they were often unsavory or even illegal, such as the execution of a member of the imperial family.  The loyalty of the guard was secured by doubling the rate of pay of regular legionaries and shortening the terms of service, by the payment of large donatives by the emperor upon his accession, and by the prestige of being a member of the guard and the benefit of living in Rome rather than being stationed in the provinces or on the frontier.  The importance of the guard’s loyalty to the emperor is self-evident, but the point is driven home by the occasions on which the guard or its prefects were involved in assassination plots (for example, Gaius, 41 CE; Nero, 68 CE; Galba, 69 CE; Commodus, 192 CE).

Bingham’s book provides valuable insight into the history, organization, and duties of the imperial Praetorian Guard.  She makes liberal use of both primary and secondary sources, and the abundant endnotes provide the studious reader with ample resources for further reading, without interfering with the flow of the narrative for the more casual reader.  As the only full-length treatment of the guard in English, Bingham’s book is sure to be welcomed by classicists, military historians, and all enthusiasts of Roman history.

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