Perpetua in Oxford

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While The Church of England’s General Synod was voting on Women Bishops, I was with a group of scholars and artists in the basement of Oxford’s Ertegun Centre, dicussing Tom Heffernan’s new book, The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity (Oxford University Press).
Tom has given us a new edition, translation, and commentary of the prison diary of the third-century martyr Perpetua of Carthage that will be with us for some time to come–with luck it will be paperbacked soon.
One of the most interesting things about the discussion was the chance to hear the reactions of the musicians who are involved in the Cantata Dramatica production of Perpetua by Nick Bicât and Nick Pitts-Tucker, which is premiering in Oxford this week.
Some readers will remember that Perpetua’s martyr-companion Saturus tells of a dream-vision in which Optatus, Bishop of Carthage, and his priests sit at ther martyrs’ feet asking them to make peace among the clergy, while Perpetua discourses to them all. Given the problems in the Church of England at the moment, perhaps another vision of Perpetua is in order?

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