Title page for ETD etd-11102009-114651

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Poche, Eric
URN etd-11102009-114651
Title The Passion Over Perpetua: A New Approach to the Passio Perpetuae et Felicitatis
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Dietz, Maribel Committee Chair
Fletcher, Kristopher Committee Member
Ross, Steven Committee Member
  • Early Christianity
  • Roman North Africa
  • Tertullian
  • Martyrdom
  • Motanism
  • Perpetua
  • Carthage
  • Hagiography
Date of Defense 2009-10-29
Availability unrestricted
Although the Passio Santarum Perpetuae et Felicitatis has received much scholarly attention in the past twenty years, it has been used primarily as a source of information on the martyr Perpetua. Other aspects of the account, such as its Montanist theology and its unique portrayal of women have been largely ignored by scholars interested in tearing it apart for relavent information on Perpetua. The Passio contains three distinct portions, each produced by a member from the religious community of Carthage in the early third-century C.E. It therefore serves as a unique historical window into early Christian North Africa, displaying a community in many ways theologically distinct from its most well known member, the apologist Tertullian.

The author of the narrative portion of the account as well as the self-written account of the martyr Saturus have been marginalized due to the enormous stature of Perpetua, the first female martyr to write an account of her own persecution. In many cases, these two male figures are ignored due to a perceived relationship with Tertullian, who is looked upon with derision for his patriarchal attitudes toward women and their role in religious life. It is the purpose of this thesis to demonstrate that the Passio promotes a view of Christianity that is distinct from the one espoused by Tertullianís writing. It will also show that the Passio presents a consistent set of theological themes in all three of its parts and offers a more progressive understanding of women as they function in the church than the one offered by Tertullian.

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