Staré otázky, nové odpovědi? Poznámky ke knize Rexe D. Butlera. Montanism and Passio Perpetuae
MONTANISM AND PASSIO PERPETUAE. OLD QUESTIONS, NEW ANSWERS? SOME COMMENTS ON THE BOOK BY REX D. BUTLER
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Rex D. Butler's book 'The New Prophecy & 'New Visions'. Evidence of Montanism in The Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas' (Washington, The Catholic University of America Press 2006) is a welcome contribution to the existing scholarship on Passio Perpetuae. The purpose of this work - to examine the Pass. Perp. for evidence of Montanism - deserves to be appreciated, since this topic has only been studied unsystematically so far. The first chapter of Butler's book offers a useful summary of the recent research on Montanism, being a point of departure for an analysis which Butler undertakes in chapter three. In this part of his book the author attempts to identify some features he previously labeled Montanistic in Pass. Perp. The second chapter reopens the question whether the author / redactor of Pass. Perp. can be ascertained and the final chapter four focuses on the reception of Pass. Per. in the later literary tradition of the early Church. Despite the praiseworthly selected theme, the analysis is pursued in a rather arguable manner according to the author of this review. It seems that Butler's aim has not been to examine the question whether Pass. Perp. bears some Montanistic features or not, but rather to support his thesis that it is 'a distinctly Montanistic document' (p. 129). Bearing this in mind Butler also deals with the secondary literature on Pass. Perp.: for the most part he quotes from the works that confirm his own hypothesis, but he leaves aside or does not take into account properly the contras (often more persuasive and numerous). He does not use some recent important studies on Pass. Perp. or Tertullian (e.g. Bremmer, Waldner, Rankin etc.). If he knew these works he would probably have to change many of his theses. This is also the case with the whole of chapter two. The idea that Tertullian may have edited Pass. Perp., which Butler takes as a possibility, was rejected more than two decades ago and conflicts with the communis opinio of contemporary research. Butler's arguments supporting his central thesis that Pass. Perp. is a Montanistic text are far from convicning and another weak point in his book is the way he describes the Chuch of Tertullians's time. He tries to reduce much more complex structures to the stereotyped constructs of catholic, protestant, heretic, orthodox etc., among which he supposes strong antagonism, which appear to be oversimplistic, anachronic and misleading in the light of recent research. This approach affects some of the conclusions in chapter four, where Butler states that the aim of the manipulation with Pass. Perp. in later tradition was the purification of originally Montanistic (i.e. 'heretical') text in order to prepare it for 'orthodox consumption' (p. 103).
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