Flames of Rome (Paul Maier)

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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Maier, Paul. Flames of Rome. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1981.

Imagine if Dan Brown were orthodox and capable of writing a coherent paragraph. This is what Paul Maier gives us. It is a perfectly paced novel that puts the reader in the midst of the caldron that is Neronic Rome. Maier’s credentials are unquestionable. He is a professional historian, having translated Eusebius and Josephus from the Greek.

This is what he calls a documentary novel. What separates it from standard “historical fiction” is the historical reconstruction provided in the notes at the end. If I were teaching a class on 1st Century Christianity, I would make this a required text. The novel itself is quite good, but the reconstruction at the end is simply breathtaking.

Despite the title, the book isn’t mostly about Nero. Claudius plays just as important a role. The reader gets some idea about the machinations in the palace.

The Christianity angle is interesting. We see Priscilla and Aquila in Rome, which matches the timeline and Claudius’s edict banning the Jews from Rome (and to what extent, as in the notes, that could have been carried out).

Maier takes the line that Peter did in fact make it to Rome (Schaff had argued, quite forcefully, that Peter couldn’t have made it to Rome given his bishopric in Antioch). The evidence that Peter made it to Rome is too strong to ignore. Pace Roman Catholicism, though, Peter could not have had a 25 year ministry there as head of the church.

If you know a little about Nero, you probably have a general idea of what happens in the novel. It’s still worth reading, though. It is perfectly paced and the characters are quite developed.
 

Phil D.

Puritan Board Junior
Schaff had argued, quite forcefully, that Peter couldn’t have made it to Rome given his bishopric in Antioch
In his History Schaff argues the standard Protestant position, namely, that while there its nothing early to support Peter's lengthy prelacy as claimed by Rome, he was almost certainly there:

The tradition of a twenty-five years’ episcopate in Rome (preceded by a seven years’ episcopate in Antioch) cannot be traced beyond the fourth century (Jerome), and arose, as already remarked, from chronological miscalculations in connection with the questionable statement of Justin Martyr concerning the arrival of Simon Magus in Rome under the reign of Claudius (41-54).​
[Note] The presence of Peter in Rome. This may be admitted as an historical fact, and I for my part cannot believe it possible that such a rockfirm and world-wide structure as the papacy could rest on tne sand of mere fraud and error. It is the underlying fact which gives to fiction its vitality, and error is dangerous in proportion to the amount of truth which it embodies. But the fact of Peter's presence in Rome, whether of one year or twenty-five, cannot be of such fundamental importance as the papacy assumes it to be : otherwise we would certainly have some allusion to it in the New Testament. (History, Vol. 1, ~26)​
 

Phil D.

Puritan Board Junior
On another note, Maier was one of the earliest and most outspoken critics of Brown's Da Vinci cr-p. He not only disapproved, he deemed it disgusting and dangerous to the very genre of historical fiction.
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Senior
I was required to read this, along with his other book, Pontius Pilate (equally as good), for a couple of my history courses in my undergraduate studies (taught by a Dutch Calvinist!). They’ve been some of my favorite books.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
In his History Schaff argues the standard Protestant position, namely, that while there its nothing early to support Peter's lengthy prelacy as claimed by Rome, he was almost certainly there:

The tradition of a twenty-five years’ episcopate in Rome (preceded by a seven years’ episcopate in Antioch) cannot be traced beyond the fourth century (Jerome), and arose, as already remarked, from chronological miscalculations in connection with the questionable statement of Justin Martyr concerning the arrival of Simon Magus in Rome under the reign of Claudius (41-54).​
[Note] The presence of Peter in Rome. This may be admitted as an historical fact, and I for my part cannot believe it possible that such a rockfirm and world-wide structure as the papacy could rest on tne sand of mere fraud and error. It is the underlying fact which gives to fiction its vitality, and error is dangerous in proportion to the amount of truth which it embodies. But the fact of Peter's presence in Rome, whether of one year or twenty-five, cannot be of such fundamental importance as the papacy assumes it to be : otherwise we would certainly have some allusion to it in the New Testament. (History, Vol. 1, ~26)​

Thanks. It had been a while since Ihad read him.
 
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