New book offers a fresh examination of a critical juncture in Christian history

RICHMOND, VA (March 4, 2022) – Union Presbyterian Seminary Associate Professor of Church History Christine Luckritz Marquis has authored a new book that offers a fresh examination of a critical juncture in Christian history and brings into dialogue narrative strands that have largely been separated in the scholarly tradition.

”The book is designed to reunite two parallel scholarly narratives because historical figures experienced these issues as interlocking and we miss some crucial things about the historical moment by keeping them separate,” Dr. Luckritz Marquis said. “Moreover, exploring how moments of violence are given competing narrations through nostalgia, erasure, and racialized rhetoric invites us to ask new questions about how these threads get woven in our own time.”

Death of the Desert: Monastic Memory and the Loss of Egypt’s Golden Age” explores a period when the world of Christianity was torn apart by debate over the legacy of the third-century theologian Origen and the incorporeality of God. There are several different accounts of the violent actions of Archbishop Theophilus of Alexandria, and Dr. Luckritz Marquis takes the violence perpetrated by Theophilus as a turning point of desert monasticism and considers how monks became involved in acts of violence and how that violence came back to haunt them.

Luckritz Marquis pays careful attention to detail in this book to the dynamic relations between memory practices, the rhetorical constructions of place, racialized discourse, language, and deeds of violence, a nexus of issues that continue to speak to us in our own time.


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Mike Frontiero
Union Presbyterian Seminary