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The Bone Gatherers: The Lost Worlds of Early Christian Women

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  41 ratings  ·  12 reviews
The bone gatherers found in the annals and legends of the early Roman Catholic Church were women who collected the bodies of martyred saints to give them a proper burial. They have come down to us as deeply resonant symbols of grief: from the women who anointed Jesus's crucified body in the gospels to the Pietà, we are accustomed to thinking of women as natural mourners, c ...more
Paperback, 312 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Beacon Press (first published July 1st 2007)
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3.80  · 
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 ·  41 ratings  ·  12 reviews

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Caitlin Lambert
Feb 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
3.5 stars

Such an interesting read! The Bone Gatherers examines mainly burial chambers in Roman catacombs, and incorporates an absolutely mind-boggling number of frescoes, inscriptions, martyr legends, and historical sources. The women that Denzey talks about are fascinating. The images are given more than one interpretation, and it was so interesting to me how my perspective changed in seeing those paintings. Denzey is so talented at weaving facts and narrative together.

The reason I gave this bo
Not quite what I expected from the description. Not all the women discussed in the book collected relics nor did the book really discuss relics that much. This is more about the lives and burials of women in the time when Rome was transitioning from pagan to Christian. There is a lot of detail about styles and types of burials and how to "read" the art and objects found in them. There are some interesting photos of ancient mosaics and burial art to support the text.

It is an interesting book, bu
An intriguing but frequently unbalanced collection of gumshoe archeology, hagiographical research, and impulsive over-analysis, Denzey's THE BONE GATHERERS should be read with an eager but discerning eye. The author's interest and devotion to unraveling the stories and lives of women lost to time is admirable, and is much needed for readers to fully grasp the impact certain women (and the stories of certain women) had on Early Christianity and its subsequent mythology. However, Denzey strays. A ...more
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it!

Informative and engaging. Loved what it taught me, the variety of things that I hadn't anticipated when starting this book. Worth the time
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really good, engrossing nonfiction text about women in early Christianity that uses fiction elements to better explain or introduce scenes in late antiquity.
Amy Beth
Fascinating read. Women were very influential in the early Christian church through being wealthy patrons and running house churches, but they were slowly stamped out by what would become the Catholic Church. The author rediscovers many of these women through murals in catacombs as well as explains what the switch from a Roman to a Christian society meant for women. I never realized how anti-marriage and family the early Catholic Church was. This was in direct contrast to the very heavy importan ...more
Jul 08, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Given the dominance of men in early textual sources, one would think that much of the world of early Christian women has been lost to us. Drenzy attempts to restore some of this world by analyzing and intuiting meanings behind images in early Christian funerary art. Because the catacombs were much more democratic in terms of who could select the art, spaces reflecting the thoughts and ideas of women were much more likely to emerge. Denzey's use of these spaces to provide a picture of the life of ...more
Nov 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting examination of a little-known period in history, the transition period between pagan Rome and a Christianizing Rome, and a previously little-examined (or at least little-focused-on) group, women in the early years of Roman Christianity. Answers questions like why are Catholics called 'Roman' Catholics (the strong influence of Roman culture on Catholic traditions), opens a window on some of the ways different everyday people (Christian and not) of the time dealt with the changing reli ...more
Sarah Duggan
An interesting discussion of early Christian women that goes beyond the standard virgin martyr narrative. I especially appreciated the complex interplay between Christian and pagan iconography, and the religious tensions between family members of different faiths. At times the artistic analysis could veer into insider academic bickering, though.
Jackie ϟ Bookseller
The first couple chapters of this were amazing - interesting, well-written, emotional. After a while, though, the information became a bit dull and repetitive. While the research was much-needed (into female art patrons and saints of late antiquity), as a casual reader, I could have lived without the second half of it.

Still a great, interesting read!
Sep 22, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EC people, archaeologists, feminists
Email me and ask me. :)
Reads very much like someone's doctoral thesis with all the good and bad that implies.
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