Wednesday, November 20, 2019


Giuseppe La Bua, Cicero and Roman Education: The Reception of the Speeches and Ancient Scholarship. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019. Pp. xiii, 394. ISBN 9781107068582. $125.00.

Reviewed by Christopher S. van den Berg (

Version at BMCR home site


Giuseppe La Bua's book offers a detailed overview of Cicero's afterlife in (mostly) imperial Latin writers and scholars. Special attention is paid to the scholiasts and Quintilian, although an impressive range of sources is brought in to round out the picture of how Cicero continued to appeal to teachers and students long after his proscription and eventual killing on December 7, 43 BCE.

Each of the book's four chapters opens a different perspective onto the ways in which Cicero was studied, read, and transmitted, outlining why and how Cicero was elevated to the status of stylistic and moral model for students across centuries of Latin pedagogy. As the conclusion summarizes: "Cicero's oratory was essential to the construction of an elite ideal of education, based on the transmission and replication of ethical, linguistic and oratorical values associated with upper-class culture" (p. 337).

In the first chapter we encounter Cicero the editor as he strives to fashion a legacy of texts with which to present himself in perpetuity to future readers. Cicero contrived to create a textualized version of himself for consumption by posterity and peers, in full awareness of "the key role played by writing in the process of canonization of oratory" (p. 21). Self-fashioning is the operative and familiar catchword throughout, but with constant attention paid to the educational possibilities offered by Cicero's texts. The balancing act is delicate, and La Bua comes down squarely in the middle of a long-standing debate over Cicero's designs in publishing his speeches during his lifetime: "in Cicero's theory of publication there is no clear split between pedagogy and politics" (p. 31). Cicero's self-editorializing practices focus on retractatio and emendatio, although the second term receives the bulk of elucidation: the factual or stylistic modification of a text to improve it for distribution.

The second chapter turns first to the minutiae of copying and editing Cicero's speeches, all while ranging broadly from Cicero's contemporaries to early medieval scholars, and by assessing the extent to which encyclopedists or commentators contributed to varying canons of Ciceronian speeches. Discussed at length are names and collections that some socio-cultural enthusiasts of Cicero might not immediately think to linger over: Statilius Maximus, Quintus Asconius Pedianus (though no one denies the contextual elucidation available in Asconius' 1st-century CE commentaries), the Scholia Bobiensia, palimpsests, or several extracts from scraps of papyrus. Again, for La Bua the relationship to education is paramount: "It is not by chance that all the speeches preserved in the oldest extant manuscripts enjoyed a good reputation in the ancient school" (p. 94).

Chapter three turns from the textual to the conceptual afterlife of Cicero, perhaps best represented by Quintilian's famous adage that "Cicero was the name not of a man but of eloquence" (Quint. Inst. 10.1.112). La Bua seeks to draw out the ways in which Cicero's legacy as a politician was subject to several challenges and revisions and to consider how imperial authors used Cicero to think about the survival (or demise) of republican ideas and values. Discussion of the political and moral questions was, ultimately, inextricable from debates over style and Latinity. Quintilian becomes, in many respects, the nodal point for the competing strands of thought (with some help from Pliny): "Quintilian's and Pliny's Ciceronianism revitalized and consecrated the figure of Cicero as the greatest orator and advocate of Roman history" (p. 124). Historical and pedagogical conclusions can be drawn from the preferences of these two authors, who "redefined the public role of the orator, bringing into existence a new Cicero … in which mastery of the Latin language and excellence in oratory combined with political activism and engagement in Roman society, something in which the real Cicero was unanimously recognized as an unattainable model" (p. 125). The scholiasts resurface at length in this chapter, and La Bua valuably concludes that "the exegetical history of the speeches goes back to the end of Roman republic [sic], not long after the death of the republican orator and statesman. Interpretation of Cicero started as soon as the speeches acquired the status of standard schoolbooks" (p. 164). Among the most important things in Cicero's legacy is his status as a repository for correct Latin usage, as he became a constant source of authority (Tulliana auctoritas) for those wishing to understand (or to grind axes) when facing competing linguistic options.

Chapter four turns first to the teaching of Cicero's texts (pp. 183-219). Quintilian is again central, first in his discussion of the praelectio (the reading out of an author in a class setting) and the consideration of which texts could or should be read by the student or budding orator. More attention is given to ennaratio (the introduction to texts by elucidating the circumstances in which they were produced). A broad range of Cicero's speeches was taught in the schools, but La Bua emphasizes the centrality of, for example, the speeches on behalf of Milo and Archias, as well as the Verrine Orations.

The three Caesarian Speeches (On Behalf of Marcellus, Ligarius, and King Deiotarus) also receive special consideration. Here the narrative weaves back and forth between the contexts and contents of the speeches and modern disagreements about their author's aims. One burning modern question, which can be traced back to ancient commentary, has been whether Cicero is being ironic or serious in his addresses to Caesar. Scholarly disagreements over the politics of these speeches are judiciously laid out, and it is possible to discern how subsequent readers would have approached them and thus Cicero's political image: "Cicero's literary work at that time brings out into the open a man negotiating political ambiguities, trying to come to terms with dictatorial power, exploring possibilities of cooperating in the new political environment of Caesar's Rome and discussing relationships between free oratory and politics" (p. 213).

The chapter then moves on to a lengthy discussion of dissembling/dissimulation (dissimulatio) in oratory (pp. 219-266), that is, the need for an orator to avoid being seen as overtly practicing the art of oratory for the purposes of self-interested persuasion. This section essentially surveys the various mechanisms by which an orator could deceive, instruct, entertain, or cajole his listeners into adopting a position or attitude. There follows another long section on the stylistic aspects of the orator's art (pp. 267-298) and a section on the use of exempla (pp. 298-317).

A conclusion summarizes the main ideas discussed in the work, which, in summary, aims to show how elite young Romans would repeatedly refashion themselves as new versions of Cicero by consuming his texts and imitating the received image of the man.

Scholars of Cicero and imperial texts on rhetoric and oratory will find much familiar ground traversed in the book. La Bua has amassed an impressive amount of material and demonstrates a keen knowledge not only of Cicero's texts but also of the subsequent stages of transmission and criticism. Quibbles with the book are largely to be directed at the structuring of the chapters and the abundance of citations and quotations. At nearly 140 pages and with 744 footnotes, chapter four is certainly remarkable for its erudition, but might have been better served by an editorial hand willing to excise what wasn't crucially essential and to insert further divisions into the book's structure. This may be to a large extent a matter of personal preference, of course, and criticism of the book's over-inclusiveness should be balanced by recognition that the assembled material makes it easy to get up to speed on some of the scholarly debates. Thus the section on the Caesarian Speeches, for example, includes most of the essential bibliography and an overview of debates in the course of about a dozen pages (pp. 208-219). Graduate students or those approaching a new area of Ciceronian studies may benefit from consulting the indexes and scouring the sections relevant to a given text. Scholars of Cicero or imperial rhetoric will recognize the book's affinities with Thomas J. Keeline's recent study of Cicero in the early empire (BMCR 2019.04.29). Future scholars of Ciceronian reception now have valuable surveys to build on when further probing Cicero's afterlife and his elevation to the status of a cultural and stylistic icon.

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Jodi Magness, Masada: From Jewish Revolt to Modern Myth. Princeton; Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2019. Pp. 288. ISBN 9780691167107. $29.95.

Reviewed by Michaël Girardin, Université du Littoral – Côte d'Opale (

Version at BMCR home site


The archaeological site of Masada remains one of the most visited in Israel and continues to exercise a deep impact on the mythic national imagination. However, a great number of popular ideas about Masada, from Herod's construction of the fortress to the gripping story of the heroic last stand of the Jews fighting the Romans in 73-74 CE, have been proven to be false and are in need of reevaluation. Archaeologist Jodi Magness succeeds in producing a rewarding and stimulating book that is accessible and up to date.

The author's purpose is not only to propose a tour of Masada but to set the fortress in its broader geographical, historical, and socio-religious contexts. The book is quite accessible: Magness helpfully fills in all background information necessary for the curious general reader. The prologue (p. 1–4) offers long quotations of Flavius Josephus' War to raise questions about what we actually can know about these events of 73-74 CE, highlighting the stakes of the question by showing the importance of Masada for the State of Israel today.

Chapter 1 presents a survey of archaeological remains of the Roman siege works set at the end of the Jewish uprising (66-73 CE) and the traces of their presence (notably military equipment). What we know from Flavius Josephus is condensed in a few pages, with a specific attention to Josephus's biases and apologetic tendencies.

During the nineteenth century, explorations in the area of the Dead Sea led to finding Masada. This "search for Masada" is summarized in chapter 2, with the (sometimes dramatic) adventures of Edward Robinson and Eli Smith, Christopher Costigan, William Molyneux, William Francis Lynch, Louis-Félicien de Saulcy, Henry Baker Tristram, and then with the project called the Survey of Western Palestine conducted by the Palestine Exploration Fund from 1871 to 1877. The archaeological explorations of Masada proper are listed with their most important contributions at the end of the chapter.

The five next chapters are devoted to describing the context of Masada.

Chapter 3, "Masada in context" explores Masada's natural setting, the Judean desert and the Dead Sea, then its "historical setting," listing the most important archaeological findings in the entire Judean desert from the Chalcolithic to the Byzantine period.

Chapter 4 presents Herod's works at the top of Masada in the context of his other building projects in Jerusalem, Caesarea Maritima, Samaria, Jericho, and Herodium. Magness shows patterns in Herodian architecture and makes it clear that Masada is only one of the Herodian palaces, and thus needs to be understood against this broader background. The author provides, in this chapter, twenty three photographs that are illuminating and useful, some of them in colour.

Chapter 5 is dedicated to the history of Judea before Herod's kingship. It opens very early with the settling of Canaan around 1200 BCE and runs until the nomination of Herod as king at Rome in 40 BCE. The narrative is very short, but Magness takes care not to fall in the traps of many disputed events. She always avoids taking part in debates that are superfluous for her purpose.

Chapter 6 summarizes the history of Judea leading up to the Jewish revolt against Rome (40 BCE to 66 CE). Magness often refers to New Testament evidence especially concerning Pilatus, Felix and Festus among others Roman procurators, and gives a balanced synthesis of the background of the Jewish revolt.

The revolt itself is the subject matter of chapter 7, with a focus first on its early developments and causes; second, on Roman operations in the country; and third, on the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. Magness pays attention to Josephus's description of the triumph, to the Flavian commemoration in Rome until Domitian's principate and to the suppression of the revolt in Egypt as well as in Judea.

It is at this point that Magness's work shines the most. Chapter 8 surveys the rebel occupation of Masada, from 66 up to 74 CE. She beings by describing the state of current research. After having inquired about who the Jews at Masada were (probably a fluid population composed indeed of Sicarii but also of some Essenes), she shows the archaeological remains of the rebels' presence on the site, describing the housing, food, synagogue, the ritual baths (miqva'ot), stone and dung vessels that testify not only the ritual and purity concern of the rebels but also their poverty and low class origin. She surveys the sectarian scrolls that attest to a small Essene community here, then the clothing, the presence and role of women and, lastly, the rebels' administrative structure as reconstructed with the help of the seven hundred and one ostraca found on site. Twenty three iconographic documents are inserted here and help sustain the discussion.

The ninth and last chapter, titled "Masada shall not fall again," explores the origins and developments of the Masada myth, with particular attention to the figure of Yigael Yadin, the first excavator of Masada and one of the most important promotors of its use in Zionist and nationalist discourses. Magness gives a short personal testimony about Yadin, who was one of her teachers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She exposes the nationalist appropriation of the mass suicide of the Sicarii and, at the same time, the difficulties archaeologists face trying to confirm the story told by Josephus. In fact, it seems that no mass suicide was ever committed at Masada and that the story was only a narrative embellishment. But Magness advances here with a commendable prudence, not forgetting to conclude that she is not a Josephus specialist and that "whether or not the mass suicide story is true depends on how one evaluates Josephus's reliability as an historian." However, even if Masada does not play the same role in Israeli nationalism today as it did in the latter half of the twentieth century, Magness shows that the site and its history still exercises a deep pull on hearts and minds not only in Israel, but around the world. "Masada, she concludes, remains a symbol of the State of Israel and the Zionist enterprise."

In closing her presentation, Magness offers her readers "a tour of Masada" as an epilogue—her recommended itinerary for tourists and visitors. Notes, a bibliography, a general index, and image credits end the book.

In the chapters devoted to the context, one can sometimes feel that the author risks losing sight of the subject, because while trying to give her readers all suitable information, Magness spends a number of pages summarizing a lot of secondary data. In some ways, one could say that her Masada is constructed as a handbook on Jewish history at the turn of our era and, for specialists, the chapters about Masada proper seem to be too limited as a consequence. However, despite this small weakness, Masada remains a beautiful book, well written and truly accessible for any interested reader. The book is up to date and presents in a fascinating manner the history of archaeological explorations in the area, the history of Zionism and of the State of Israel, and based on a few preceding works, of the ideological embellishment and misappropriations of the story of Masada. Undoubtedly, it will become a classic in this field of study.

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Carmen Arnold-Biucchi, Martin Beckmann (ed.), Sculpture and Coins: Margarete Bieber as Scholar and Collector. Loeb Classical Monographs 16. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018. Pp. xviii, 148; 24 plates. ISBN 9780674428379. $30.00.

Reviewed by Nathan T. Elkins, Baylor University (

Version at BMCR home site

[Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review.]

This collection of essays contains seven papers delivered at the Ilse and Leo Mildenberg Symposium, held at the Harvard Art Museums on April 28-29, 2011, which I was fortunate to attend.1 Harvard's acquisition of Bieber's coin collection served as the inspiration for the symposium.

Margarete Bieber (1879-1978) was a pioneering figure in Classical Archaeology who influenced archaeologists trained in America after she fled Nazi Germany in 1933.2, where she had been the first woman to receive a Reisestipendium from the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut in 1909 and the first female professor in Germany, at the University of Gießen. In 1936 she joined Columbia University's faculty. The chapters in this book elaborate on her contributions to scholarship, especially as they relate to sculpture and coins, or are inspired by subjects in her collection. Often remembered primarily for studies of sculpture and, specifically, her work on Roman copies of Greek subjects, this book brings to light her strong interest in numismatics, to which she also made contributions.

In Chapter One, Arnold-Biucchi treats Bieber's coin collection. Bieber built her collection "to present characteristic specimens from the Classical Greek to the Late Roman period," which Arnold-Biucchi connects with her scholarship on contemporary sculpture (5). Nancy Waggoner took classes from Bieber, including a seminar on Greek numismatics, and received her Ph.D. from Columbia in 1968; in 1969, she became Curator of Greek Coins at the American Numismatic Society. Bieber no doubt influenced Waggoner's trajectory and is credited in Bieber's notes as helping her with the typed catalog she made of her collection, now part of the materials at Harvard. She formed her collection of coins in the United States up until 1974. It is comprised of 67 Greek coins, many of which are representative types, but the focus of this group is on Hellenistic ruler portraits, signaling her interest in portraiture. The remaining specimens are Roman, with emphasis on the Flavian, Antonine, and Severan periods and on portraits of the imperial women. The collection was largely unpublished, although some of her articles on Roman Republican numismatics were illustrated with items from her collection.

In the second chapter, Larissa Bonfante focuses on her own personal engagement with Bieber when she was a student at Columbia. She regularly visited Bieber for tea at her apartment, where she was essentially housebound. Bonfante provides much insight into her personality and disposition as a scholar.

Matthias Recke, who has published much on Bieber's career, expounds on her academic influence in chapter three. This chapter contains a detailed timeline of her biography and scholarly works, as he examines four areas in which Bieber impacted scholarship: historical restorations of ancient sculpture, the use of archaeological material to illustrate cultural history, the study of Roman copies as relates to chronology of originals, and methodologies for the study of Classics. One of the more important aspects of this chapter is the argument that Bieber was the first scholar to evaluate cultural history from an archaeological perspective (29-35), as illustrated by her studies of dress and Greek painted pottery—a topic that might have been pursued further.

The fourth chapter presents a detailed study in imperial coin iconography by Peter F. Mittag. The subject takes inspiration from Bieber's essay on a similar topic, where she noted that the costume of Honos changed to civilian dress in the reign of Antoninus Pius.3 Mittag's argument, based on changes of attire and patterns of representation on the coins of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius as Caesar, is that Honos does not have military connotations in this context but signals the attainment of high office, as he is linked with Marcus Aurelius's first consulship. Virtus appears separately on Pius's coins.

In the fifth chapter, Metcalf surveys the topic of coins celebrating deified emperors, associating them with monuments and the topography of Rome (63-67). He examines the unusual series of Trajan Decius (r. A.D. 249-251), who struck types recalling several deified emperors from Augustus through Severus Alexander. Metcalf suggests the reason for the series is "in fact banal, a reflection of mint activity and history" (68); the antoninanus replaced the denarius and led to the withdrawal of old coinage; the mint therefore struck coins of deified emperors that had gone out of circulation. Another possibility he allows is that Decius was a "religious conservative;" he built a monument to the deified emperors in Milan and attempted to restore the old religion.

The emphasis on imperial women in Bieber's collection and the relation of coins to sculpture in Martin Beckmann's contribution make an appropriate homage to Bieber.4 Both Faustina I and II witnessed unparalleled numismatic representation under Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius, with their coin types making up to one-half of the coinage of this period. Coins for Faustina I visualized honors and illustrate the dialog with sculpture, specifically through the example of the statue found in the area of the Stazione Termini in Rome, where she is portrayed as Concordia. Beckmann orders Faustina II's portraits by die, elaborating on work by Fittschen on sculpture. He claims that the emphasis on Faustina in Pius's reign is an indication of direct agency by the emperor in the selection of messages. It would have been helpful to develop the idea; a competing theory is that outside agents, such as the Senate, formulated imperial coin designs to praise the emperor and his house, in a way not dissimilar to poetry, panegyric, or honorary monuments —a model into which these coinages could also fit. 5

In the final chapter Annetta Alexandridis argues that Bieber identified with the Severan women. She examines their representation with special attention to Julia Domna and her diverse portrayal as wife and mother, and the honors dedicated to her in coins and sculpture. The text includes a catalogue of coin types for the Severan women.

This book will be essential to anyone interested in the life and career of Margarete Bieber. The numismatic essays will be of importance to those who study imperial coin iconography of the second and third centuries CE, or who are interested in the relation between sculpture and coins. This sturdy book has black and white illustrations and charts throughout the text; coin images and some sculptures for all chapters appear as color plates, pulled together in the midst of Beckmann's chapter.

Authors and Titles

Foreword, Barbara Borg
Preface, Carmen Arnold-Biucchi and Martin Beckmann
Acknowledgments, Carmen Arnold-Biucchi and Martin Beckmann
Introduction, Carmen Arnold-Biucchi
1. The Relation between Sculpture and Coins: The Collection of Margarete Bieber, Carmen Arnold-Biucchi
2. Remembering Margarete Bieber in New York, Larissa Bonfante
3. The Impact of Margarete Bieber on Twentieth-Century Scholarship, Matthias Recke
4. Honos and Virtus: Marcus Aurelius and Antoninus Pius, Peter F. Mittag
5. Dead Emperors, William E. Metcalf
6. Faustina the Elder and Younger in Coins and Sculpture, Martin Beckmann
7. The Women of the Severan Dynasty: Coining Female Power? Annetta Alexandridis


1.   Not included in the publication are Barbara Borg's keynote address (on "Emperor among the Crowd: Form and Format in Roman Imperial Portraiture") and Karsten Dahmen's talk on "King in a Small World: Depictions of Alexander on His Shields and Armor."
2.   On Bieber's life and accomplishments, see R. Winkes, "Margarete Bieber zum 95. Geburtstag," Gießener Universitätsblätter 1 (1974): 68-75; E.B. Harrison, "Margarete Bieber, 1879-1978," American Journal of Archaeology 82 (1978): 573-575; L. Bonfante, "Margarete Bieber (1879-1978)," Gnomon 51 (1979): 621-624; L. Bonfante, "Margarete Bieber (1879-1978): An Archaeologist in Two Worlds," in C. Richter Sherman and A.M. Holcomb (eds.), Women as Interpreters of the Visual Arts, 1820-1979 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981), 239-274; H.G. Buchholz, "Margarete Bieber, 1879-1978: Klassiche Archäologin," H.g. Gundel, P. Moraw, and V. Press (eds.), Gießener Gelehrte in der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts (Marburg: Elwert, 1982), 58-73; M. Hinterberger "Margarete Bieber: Eine Archäologin in zwei Welten (1879-1978), in A. Kuhn, B. Mühlenbruch, and V. Rothe (eds.), 100 Jahre Frauenstudium: Frauen der Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn (Bonn: Edition Ebersbach, 1996), 140-145; E.-M. Felschow, "Schwieriger Anfang, jähres Ende und ein Neubeginn in der Ferne: Das Schicksal der Margarete Bieber," in C. Horst (ed.), Panorama. 440 Jahre Universität Giessen (Frankfurt: Societäts Verlag, 2007), 278-273; H.P. Obermayer, "Margarete Bieber im Exil," in H.P. Obermayer (ed.), Deutsche Altertumswissenschaftler im amerikanischen Exil. Eine Rekonstruktion (Berlin, De Gruyter, 2014), 35-107. Multiple relevant works by Matthias Recke are cited in his chapter in the volume under review.
3.   M. Bieber, "Honos and Virtus," American Journal of Archaeology 49.1 (1945): 25-34.
4.   This chapter draws from Beckmann, Diva Faustina: Coinage and Cult in Rome and the Provinces (New York: American Numismatic Society, 2012) and provides some preview content for id., Faustina the Younger: Coinage, Portraits, and Public Image (New York: American Numismatic Society, forthcoming).
5.   E.g., B. Levick, "Propaganda and Imperial Coinage," Antichthon 16 (1982): 104-116; A. Wallace-Hadrill, "Image and Authority in the Coinage of Augustus," Journal of Roman Studies 76 (1986): 66-87.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019


Justin R. Howell, The Pharisees and Figured Speech in Luke-Acts. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe, 456. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2017. Pp. xii, 386. ISBN 9783161550232. €94.00.

Reviewed by Jonathan Thiessen, Université de Strasbourg (

Version at BMCR home site

Justin R. Howell has rendered significant service to the rhetorical study of the New Testament through publication of this examination of figured speech in Luke-Acts. Interpretation of the New Testament using Graeco-Roman rhetorical categories is not new, but the depth of ancient theory means that many features have been easily passed over. Figured speech is one of these. Known as λόγος ἐσχηματισμένος, or oratio figurata, "figured speech" was an elaborate technique in which one "says one thing while meaning something else," usually to criticise. Its purpose is not biting sarcasm; rather, it is concerned with the speaker's safety or the desire to communicate appropriately and respectfully, and it is expected to remain hidden, unlike irony. Howell's contribution is particularly welcome in that it is only the second full-length study to address the question of figured speech in the New Testament,1 and only a handful of articles have done so to date.2 Nevertheless, though the technique was extremely popular in the first century AD, and though its implications are immense for New Testament interpretation, it remains little known.

Howell opens his study with the question: why is Luke's portrayal of the Pharisees ambiguous? Though many have made this observation, Howell affirms, they have "left unanswered" (p. 2) the question as to why. Howell intends to respond to that question through identification of figured speech. Howell dedicates his opening chapter (p. 3-22) to defining this technique, discussing in turn related aspects such as allusion (ἔμφασις), discretion (ἐυπρέπεια), security (ἀσφάλεια), freedom of speech (παρρησία), irony (εἰρωνεία) and indirect speech (ὁ πλάγιος λόγος). Chapter two (p. 23-38) is a brief discussion of methodological questions, essentially relating to the interpretative approach used to study Luke-Acts. Chapter three (p. 39-60) constitutes an overview of theories and literature on the Pharisees, concluding that what is certain is that the group had strong religious and popular influence and that their political power in post-70 Judea became significant. Chapter four (p. 61-76) discusses the probable location for the writing of Luke-Acts as being Antioch in Syria. Howell examines the question of date and authorship in chapter five (p. 77-97), settling on a date between 105-120, and concluding that the author was most likely a Hellenistic Jew and probably not a companion of Paul.

Part Two of Howell's study addresses the question of the potential restriction of free speech (παρρησία), a situation which would require the use of figured speech. Howell examines in chapter six (p. 98-112) the possibility that Luke is indicating covertly by his mention of ἀσφάλεια in Lk 1.4 and παρρησία in Ac 28.31 that he as author is restricted in his writing. The Lukan Paul uses figured speech, as Howell argues in chapter seven (p. 113-140), particularly in the irony of his feigning ignorance of the high priest and the deception practised by claiming to be a Pharisee in Ac 23.5-6. More convincing to this reviewer is the demonstration in chapter eight (p. 141-167) that through subtle ambiguities and parallels in the description of the apostles' interaction with Gamaliel (Ac 5.33-40), Luke portrays him negatively and indicates that he and the Sanhedrin are opposing God.

In Part Three, Howell discusses Luke's moral diagnosis of the Pharisees. Chapter nine (p. 168-183) draws parallels between the Pharisees and those in need of healing, implying that the former themselves are ill. In chapter ten (p. 184-203), in a parallel to the accusation of Pharisees as being lovers of money (Lk 16.14), Howell finds insinuations that imply they are also lovers of glory and luxury in Lk 14 and 15. Though Howell's study of contemporary sources showing that these three passions were associated with injustice is convincing, the subtle connection he sees here with the ailment of dropsy (Lk 14.2) as a message about the destructive nature of the Pharisees' passions feels tenuous. Despite Howell's more hesitant conclusion to chapter eleven (p. 204-220), this chapter is satisfying and strongly argued: figured and allusive criticism of the Pharisees in the Beelzebul controversy (Lk 11.14-23) gives way to un-figured and frank criticism (Lk 11.37-52).

The confrontations between Jesus and the Pharisees concerning the Kingdom of God are the theme of Part Four. Howell shows in chapter twelve (p. 221-236) that the expression ἐντὸς ὑμῶν in Lk 17.21 is deliberately ambiguous, meaning both "within you" and "among you." It contrasts the Pharisees and the Samaritan leper who, unlike them, is cleansed internally (the first meaning) and recognises Jesus as the kingdom (the second meaning). As demonstrated in chapter thirteen (p. 237-247), the refusal of the Pharisee in Lk 7.36-50 to anoint Jesus implies that he failed to acknowledge Jesus as the Christ. In chapter fourteen (p. 248-258), Howell argues that the Pharisees' advice to Jesus in Lk 13.31 to leave Jerusalem in order to escape Herod's murderous intentions is hypocritical, for they are in fact seeking to expel him. Chapter fifteen (p. 259-276) interprets the parable of the nobleman who departs to receive power (Lk 19) as representing Jesus who faces opposition from the Pharisees on his return. The Pharisees, though unnamed, are also present in the episode of Zacchaeus (Lk 19.1-10), as Howell argues in chapter sixteen (p. 277-295). Howell concludes (p. 296-301) with discussion of the possible relationship between Luke and the Gospel of Marcion.

Howell's style is not easy to read, thanks to the intensely precise prose necessary for a doctoral dissertation. Nevertheless, he does achieve excellent precision and clarity, and his regular use of questions to move his demonstration forward is pleasing, constructively pointing out to the reader the direction his argument is taking. The text is almost entirely free of typographical errors.3 His discussion shows that he has consulted all five ancient sources that treat figured speech (Demetrius, Quintilian, Hermogenes, Ps.-Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Apsines), which is noteworthy given the absence of available English translations of the latter two. His treatment involves fine interaction with later patristic and Reformation interpretation in every chapter, often gleaning interesting later observations which point in the direction of Howell's argument. Parallels with rabbinic material shows he is well acquainted with that body of literature.

One shortcoming involves Howell's treatment of the sources on figured speech. Only eighteen pages (ch. 1) are dedicated to the discussion of the ancient theory of figured speech. The cursory nature of his treatment becomes apparent in the following chapters: Howell does not engage in depth with ancient rhetorical theory, usually referring to it briefly in the conclusions to each chapter. Here he generally restricts himself to a select number of characteristics of figured speech without exploiting the full breadth of techniques the handbooks describe. One consequence of the brevity of his discussion of the sources is his treatment of ἔμφασις/significatio as equivalent to λόγος ἐσχηματισμένος. The characteristics of figured speech that unify in the other handbooks show that significatio is a similar but separate figure.4 This poses problems for Howell's discussion, as five chapters depend exclusively on the references to discussion of significatio in Rhet. Her. 4.67 alone for their qualification as λόγος ἐσχηματισμένος (chapters 10, 11, 13, 15, 16). Howell's discussion of innuendo and insinuation in Luke is good; it does make use of rhetorical theory of λόγος ἐσχηματισμένος, but it could almost have been conducted without that theory. It would certainly have benefited from a deeper engagement with the rhetorical sources.

The study would also have benefited from a more precise discussion of the methodology of identifying figured speech, given the slippery nature of this rhetorical technique. Methodological discussion in ch. 2 does not concern figured speech, but rather interpretative approaches to Luke-Acts, and Howell's discussion of how to identify figured speech is limited to "analyzing the texts for possible signs of 'hidden' meanings or allusions, however they might surface" (p. 22). Discussion of a "grip" (ἀντιλαβή) or a "sign" (σημεῖον) for determining the presence of figured speech does exist in the handbooks (especially Ps.-D.H.), and would have benefited Howell's analysis.

More interaction with secondary literature on figured speech would have been helpful, especially that related to the New Testament. None of the earlier studies mentioned above (notes 1 and 2) are cited, nor are studies treating figured speech in non-Christian literature by Bernard Schouler, Pierre Chiron, Lucia Montefusco, Christopher Craig, or Laurent Pernot.5

Howell's treatment is essentially "a study of Lukan Pharisees" (p. 61): despite the title, figured speech is here simply used as a tool toward that study. Howell's study deals with text-internal Pharisees, rather than historical Pharisees as the author or his readers may have known them. Though Howell evokes this issue briefly, he never distinguishes clearly between the rhetorical and social-historical aspects to his approach.

In spite of these remarks, Howell's contribution is an important landmark in the study of New Testament rhetoric. In his defence, as concerns methodology and discussion of literature, it could be argued that no study currently exists reviewing the literature on figured speech in the New Testament, or proposing any concrete methodology for identifying it in that context. Despite the need for a more in-depth engagement with the sources and literature, Howell's results are impressive. Readers who disagree with Howell's positions on the history of the Pharisees post-70 or on the historical provenance and occasions for the composition of Luke-Acts will nonetheless find his discussion of λόγος ἐσχηματισμένος suggestive and stimulating. What is essential in such a study is that it opens the door to further examination of figured speech in the New Testament. Not everyone will be in agreement with what exactly the hidden messages are, but recognising that ancient authors commonly communicated indirectly is an important step, not only for Christian literature, but for pagan as well.


1.   The first is Jason Whitlark, Resisting Empire: Rethinking the Purpose of the Letter to "the Hebrews," Bloomsbury T & T Clark, London, LNTS, 2014.
2.   The first to do so was Benjamin Fiore, "'Covert Allusion' in 1 Corinthians 1-4," CBQ 47, 1985, pp. 85-102. The only other articles or books dealing with the question for more than a few pages are: David Hall, "A Disguise for the Wise: μετασχηματίσμενος in 1 Corinthians 4.6," NTS, 40, 1994, pp. 143-49; James Jaquette, "A Not-So-Noble Death: Figured speech, friendship and suicide in Philipians 1:21-26," Neotestamentica, 28, 1994, pp. 177-192; Corin Mihaila, The Paul-Apollos Relationship and Paul's Stance Toward Greco-Roman Rhetoric, London 2009, pp. 61-65, 203-212; J. Paul Sampley, "The Weak and the Strong: Paul's Careful and Crafty Strategy in Romans 14:1-15:13" in L.M. White and O.L. Yarbrough, eds., The Social World of the First Christians, Minneapolis, 1995, pp. 40-52; Malcolm Heath, "John Chrysostom, rhetoric and Galatians," Biblical Interpretation, 12, 2004, pp. 369-400; Ian H. Henderson "Reconstructing Mark's Double Audience" in E.S. Malbon, ed., Between Author and Audience in Mark, Sheffield, 2009, p. 6-28; Jason Whitlark, "'Here We Do Not Have a City That Remains': A Figured Critique of Roman Imperial Propaganda in Hebrews 13:14", JBL, 131, 1, 2012, pp. 161-179.
3.   The only significant error I noticed was on p. 156 n. 35 where the end of A. Loisy's citation has been cut off.
4.   The following features of λόγος ἐσχηματισμένος as found in the five sources indicate that it should be considered as separate from significatio as discussed in Rhet. Her. 4.67: its name "figured speech," its distinction from a mere figure, its motivation for reasons of safety and tact, its use on a large scale in both declamation and literature, and its hidden nature.
5.   Bernard Schouler, "Le déguisement de l'intention dans la rhétorique grecque," 1986; Pierre Chiron, "Les rapports entre persuasion et manipulation dans la théorie rhétorique du discours figuré," 2003; Lucia Montefusco, "Ductus and color: The Right Way to Compose a Suitable Speech," 2003; Christopher Craig, "Treating oratio figurata in Cicero's Speeches: the case of pro Marcello," 2008; Laurent Pernot, "Les Faux-Semblants de la Rhétorique Grecque," 2008; "Greek 'Figured Speech' on Imperial Rome," 2015.

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Sabine Panzram, Laurent Callegarin (ed.), Entre civitas y madina: El mundo de las ciudades en la península ibérica y en el norte de África (siglos IV-IX). Collection de la Casa de Velázquez 167. Madrid: Casa de Velázquez, 2018. Pp. 394. ISBN 9788490962169.

Reviewed by Javier Martínez Jiménez, Churchill College/ University of Cambridge (

Version at BMCR home site

[Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review.]

This volume, edited by Sabine Panzram and Laurent Callegarin, is the publication derived from the VI Toletum Network workshop, held in 2015. This research network, centred at the University of Hamburg has held similar annual meetings focused on various aspects of Roman and late antique Hispania, three of which were already published together in 2017.1 The book is presented as a commemoration and a reassessment of Hugh Kennedy's seminal work, "From polis to medina" thirty years after its publication,2 bringing together a number of authors from Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Tunisia who discuss cities in Iberian peninsula and North Africa between the fourth and eighth centuries. In many aspects, the book feels like an updated version of a book edited by Lauro Olmo in 2008, which dealt with the city in the Visigothic period, albeit with wider territorial scope and fewer Iberian case studies.3 In fact, four authors (Jaime Vizcaíno, Sonia Gutiérrez, Darío Bernal, and Miguel Alba) overlap in both volumes. The book is divided into three sections. The first section is introductory, containing a prologue and introduction by the editors, two useful colour maps indicating the location of the sites mentioned across the texts, and Hugh Kennedy's own essay. This is followed by a part on Spain and a part on North Africa, each subdivided into a theoretical section, a compilation of case-studies, and three concluding papers dealing with transversal topics. A final essay by Patrice Cressier serves as the conclusion to the volume.

The introduction by Sabine Panzram introduces the world of Roman cities in Iberia and North Africa, underlining their role as nodes structuring a territory, although presenting a visually-recognisable definition of a "city", which could be problematic. It also introduces a summary on the historiography and evolving methodologies linked to the archaeology of Roman cities, culminating with the latest developments in urban and commercial archaeology. The chapter naturally concludes with an overall comparison between both regions and the importance of Kennedy's work. Hugh Kennedy's paper is a short reflection, which adds nothing new to the debate but serves as a starting point for the volume. Kennedy presents his own work, showing how recent archaeological work keeps supporting, largely, his original thesis (p. 17). The essay also adds a few paragraphs on the role of state-led urban economics and cities as generating demand (and not just supplies), an idea he has developed since the original "From polis to Madina" was published.

The section on the Iberian Peninsula is opened by two very different chapters. Javier Arce's paper (in Spanish) is clearly focused on the question of the origins of urban Christianity, presenting a long-established (but still clearly and well-argued) linear development, with a fourth-to-fifth century phase of suburban martyria shrines and a fifth (but mostly sixth) century relocation of the main churches inside the city walls. The arguments presented equating the end of civic paganism with the decline of municipal, non-ecclesiastical elites are, perhaps, too heavily dependent on Liebeschuetz's theses. Sonia Gutiérrez presents a completely different theoretical piece, summarising the last twenty years of research, referring largely but not exclusively to her work at El Tolmo. In this chapter Gutiérrez is expanding the synthesis Panzram presented in her introduction, and the main processes of transformation that characterise cities in this period.

Four case studies follow. Miguel Alba presents, as always, a fine article outlining the evolution of the spaces of power within the city of Mérida from its foundation to its demise in the ninth century. The paper pays attention to local and imperial Roman elites, the Visigothic church and the "foreign" Ummayad administrative elites, and while it builds mostly on his own previous work,4 it is expanded with the results of recent excavations. Jaime Vizcaíno's piece focuses only on the fifth century, and how the promotion to provincial capital resulted in a short phase of urban renewal in Cartagena, including a brilliant analysis of the transformation of the theatre into an open area, parallel to similar developments in the Eastern Empire. The chapter by Darío Bernal presents (in Spanish) the evolution of the cities on both sides of the Straits of Gibraltar, and while it discusses the evolution over the late antique centuries, the only noticeable difference with his 2008 Recópolis paper is the introduction of the results of his fieldwork in Tamuda. Similarly, Mª Teresa García analyses the formation of a new Ummayad suburb outside Córdoba, describing in detail its urbanism (mostly translating a previous Spanish publication into English)5 and material culture.

The next subsection on Hispania has three chapters. In the first one, Ruth Pliego and Tawfiq Ibrahim present in a very novel way the role cities had as administrative centres based on numismatic and sigillographic evidence. They convincingly prove that while successive late antique polities had different attitudes different towards cities, it is possible also to identify important regional and local patterns across Iberia and North Africa. Francisco Moreno's chapter the most ground-breaking piece in the volume, because even if it focuses only on the sixth and ninth centuries, he cautiously-yet-accurately dismantles many general assumptions on the perceived "Visigothicness" of the Asturian kingdom and the fictitious (reconstructed) urbanism of Toledo based on known Asturian parallels. The last paper in this section is by Christoph Eger, who presents the different stages of urban Islamisation as can be inferred from the development of burial practices, looking at various examples from across the Peninsula.

The section on North Africa is opened by a chapter by François Baratte, who underlines how much work is still to be done on North African urban archaeology: not only from a practical perspective of methodology, but also from the theoretical and interpretative side of things. The different historical benchmarks and chronological indicators are now clearly identifiable, but the processes that link them are still blurry. A very similar proposal is put forward by Corisande Fenwick, who analyses how the different polities have clear impacts on the perceived and excavated townscapes. The very close link between administrative relevance and urban continuity is, furthermore, comparable between old Roman cities and new Islamic foundations. The last case-study chapter is by Elsa Rocca and Fathi Béjaoui, who focus on two particular well-studied cities from inland Byzacena (Haïdra and Tébassa) to further develop the importance of regionalisation in urban evolution from the late Roman into the Islamic period. The next one is Jerba, by Elizabeth Fentress, who re-examines her own published fieldwork on the island. This is followed by a study by Ridha Ghaddhab, who presents a catalogue of oil and pottery workshops inside cities of late antique date, concluding that there was no process of relocation of suburban activities, but rather an increasing visibility of activities which already existed in the Roman period. These are followed by three last chapters on broader topics. Anna Leone summarises in the next chapter, very briefly, her previous work on monumental construction and marble recycling, without adding much new.6 Lennart Gilhaus, discusses and catalogues the last statues of Roman North Africa, while, lastly, Esther Sánchez tries to discuss the nature of urban power during the Vandal conquest, and how the interaction between bishops and the monarchy reflects this rather than religious opposition.

To conclude, this volume presents a wide range of archaeological material from an impressive collection of sites, which are framed by topical and theoretical discussions which highlight the current state of studies on late antique urbanism. It also shows how it is increasingly possible to discuss the transition from a late/post-Roman world to the Islamic period, including some very good papers (esp. Vizcaíno, Pliego & Ibrahim, Moreno, Rocca & Béjaoui). The book has, nevertheless, some problems: even if the book is presented as a reassessment of Hugh Kennedy's 1985 paper, very few chapters address the original publication directly, even if the rupture/continuity debate is acknowledged as a main historiographic problem. Similarly, very few chapters actually focus on the evolution of cities during the longue durée (either from a theoretical or a practical perspective), and there is little interaction amongst them, which makes the whole volume less coherent. More worryingly, some of the contributions are not as innovative as they might have been and largely reiterate previously-presented work. Lastly, there is a lack of discussion on Portuguese material – sadly the usual forgotten corner of the Iberian Peninsula. But, overall, the editors are to be congratulated for their initiative in promoting and organising these collaborative workshops. The publications will make comparative studies easier and, hopefully, will continue to highlight the relevance of Iberian material in early Medieval studies.

Authors and titles

Sabine Panzram, Laurent Callegarin: Prólogo, xv-xvi.
Sabine Panzram: El mundo de las ciudades en la Península Ibérica y en el norte de África, 1-12.
Hugh Kennedy: From Polis to Madina revisited: Some Reflections Thirty Years On, 13-22.

I.1. Perspectivas generales
Javier Arce: De la ciudad pagana a la ciudad cristiana: el caso de Hispania (siglos IV-VI), 23-32.
Sonia Gutiérrez Lloret: Von der civitas zur madīna: 20 Jahre archäologische Forschungen auf der Iberischen Halbinsel, 33-50

I.2. Estudio de casos
Miguel Alba Calzado: Secuencias en la transformación de Augusta Emerita (siglos I-IX): tres concepciones distintas de ser ciudad, 51-74.
Jaime Vizcaíno Sánchez: Ad pristinum decus. La metamorfosis urbana de Carthago Spartaria durante el siglo V, 75-104.
Darío Bernal Casasola: Continuidad y cesura en las ciudades tardorromanas del estrecho de Gibraltar. El fretum Gaditanum, un ámbito hispano-africano singular, 105-18.
María Teresa Casal García: The Rabaḍ of Šaqunda in Umayyad Córdoba (750-818 AD), 119-34.
Ruth Pliego, Tawfiq Ibrahim: La ciudad a través de las emisiones monetarias y sigilográficas de la Península Ibérica. De la Antigüedad Tardía a la conquista omeya, 135-54.
Francisco José Moreno Martín: De Toledo a Oviedo (siglos VII a IX). Circulación de modelos y circularidad de argumentación para el conocimiento de la topografía cristiana entre la tardía Antigüedad y la alta Edad Media, 153-72.
Christoph Eger: Zur Islamisierung der urbanen Landschaft in al-Andalus aus Sicht des Grabbrauchs, 173-90.

II.1. Perspectivas generales
François Baratte: Les villes du nord de l'Afrique entre Antiquité tardive et conquête arabe. Historiographie récente et nouvelles perspectives, 191-202.
Corisande Fenwick: Early Medieval Urbanism in Ifrīqiya and the Emergence of the Islamic City, 203-22.

II.2. Estudio de casos
Elsa Rocca, Fathi Béjaoui: Occupation urbaine dans le sud-ouest de la Proconsulaire entre Antiquité tardive et Moyen Âge : les cas d'Ammaedara (Haïdra, Tunisie) et de Theveste (Tébessa, Algérie), 223-40.
Elisabeth Fentress: An Island in Transition. Jerba between the Fifth and the Ninth Centuries, 241-52.
Ridha Ghaddhab: Vie urbaine et activités artisanales dans les villes romaines d'Afrique durant l'Antiquité tardive, 253-74.
Anna Leone: Urban Decor and Public Spaces in Late Antique North Africa, pp. 275-84.
Lennart Gilhaus: Statuen und Stadtkultur im spätantiken Nordafrika, 285-302.
Esther Sánchez Medina: Ciudades, obispos y exilio. Una nueva lectura (geopolítica) de los primeros exilios del África vándala, 303-16.
Patrice Cressier: Quelques remarques sur la genèse des villes islamiques au Maghreb occidental, 317-30.


1.   See BMCR 2019.11.25.
2.   Kennedy, Hugh. 1985. "From polis to medina", Past & Present, 106: 3-27.
3.   Olmo Enciso, Lauro (ed.). 2008. Recópolis y la ciudad en la época visigoda. Alcalá de Henares.
4.   e.g., his co-authored paper in the 2008 Recópolis publication.
5.   Casal García, María Teresa. 2008. "Características generales del urbanismo cordobés de la primera etapa emiral: el arrabal de Saqunda" Anales de Arqueología Cordobesa 1: 109-34.
6.   cf. Leone, Anna. 2007. Changing Townscapes in North Africa from Late Antiquity to the Arab Conquest. Bari.

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