Brown vs. Hurtado [Marmolejo]

Peter Brown in “The Conversion of Christianity” in the book, World of Late Antiquity, discusses Christianity and its impact on the decaying Roman Empire. On the other hand, Larry Hurtado in “The Early Christian Preference for the Codex” tries to give an explanation of how Christians came to prefer codices over rolls and the implications that had for the spread of Christianity in the Roman world.

Brown is a well- educated scholar who has extensive knowledge on the spread of Christianity in the Roman world and he has mainly acquired this by doing his own research or reading the work of other individuals. He uses his strong opinion and credibility to ultimately establish them as his form of concrete evidence. Brown definitely refers to the opinions and work of other people but does not necessarily give direct credit to them, rather he integrates them as if they were his own ideas. All throughout the chapter, Brown takes a diachronic approach and uses visual images to capture the sense that he is chronologically arranging the facts he is presenting. Larry Hurtado, however, first uses chronological quantitative evidence, like data and statistics from the Leuven Database of Ancient Books (LDBA) and the Papyri from the Rise of Christianity in Egypt (PRCE) databases, to prove that Christians preferred the codices rather than the rolls. The usage of graphs and pie charts from the specific time period of the second and third century Roman world enhance and reinforce his synchronic arguments. However, Hurtado also throws various theories and ideas from others’ expertise to try to explain the phenomenon of the rise of  codices over rolls, but then discredits their claims and at the end he does not give final answers to the questions he poses.

Peter Brown’s audience is definitely an audience which has some extensive background knowledge about Christianity and its impact on the Roman Empire. This is noticeable when he uses complex vocabulary and does not include any references, like footnotes. On the contrary, Hurtado’s audience is not as aware of the topic and for that same reason he includes footnotes and outside sources. Their purpose is to ultimately explain and inform rather than persuade and sway the opinions of their audiences.

Comments are closed.