Dossey will fill this gap in the near future. Chapter 7, which provides a new interpretation of the violence associated with the circumcellions--religious extremists who assaulted their sectarian rivals--is equally intriguing. Wishing to inject meaning into what has often been seen as meaningless sectarian violence between "Catholics" and "Donatists," Dossey uses Brian Stock's notion of "textual community" to reinterpret a well-known episode from Optatus (on Axido and Fasir) as evidence of interference against the abuses of landlords in illegally seizing produce in markets for interests on debts granted to poor peasants (pp. 175180). The so-called Donatists, she argues, were using documents to stop such illegal actions and to free slaves. Here, Dossey is situating these episodes within the larger context of the Christianization of the countryside, which brought with it new ideas affecting the traditional Roman institution of patronage. For Christians, true charity was incompatible with economic profit, which made gifts acquired through dubious means unacceptable to the faithful. While this is an intriguing interpretation of the "Donatist" conflict, one wonders whether sources other than Optatus, such as Augustine and the "Donatist Martyr Stories," would also support it. Dossey has produced a valuable contribution to a growing body
Journal of World History – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Nov 15, 2012
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