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Catholics/The Works of Ramsay MacMullen


Thank you Father Michael for your thoughtful and scholarly reply to my question about magic and the supernatural. Are you familiar with the works of ancient historian Ramsay Macmullen?

Ramsay MacMullen (born March 3, 1928 in New York City) is an Emeritus Professor of history at Yale University, where he taught from 1967 to his retirement in 1993 as Dunham Professor of History and Classics. His scholarly interests are in the social history of Rome and the replacement of paganism by Christianity. I am a big fan.

MacMullen graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy and summa cum laude from Harvard College.

When MacMullen was honored for a lifetime of scholarly achievement at the 2001 annual meeting of the American Historical Association with the Award for Scholarly Distinction, the award citation called him "the greatest historian of the Roman Empire alive today." With important new books published in 2006 and 2009 and 2011 at the ages of 78 and 81 and 83, he remains a powerful voice for scholarly accuracy and lucidity among students of the Roman world.          

Do you have anything to say about his study of the social history of Rome and the replacement of paganism by Christianity? I found MacMullen's investigations fascinating, but somewhat difficult to read. [I can no longer read Latin]          

Like my famous mentor Martin Gardner I am a puzzler, but not in mathematics, but in the study of ancient history, the formation of the early Christianity, sleight of hand magic and human behavior. I have genuine curiosity about many obscure things. I am only a layman. I am 73 years old and a sad recent widower.I am a pretty good close up amateur magician. I have been a proud member of The International Brotherhood of Magicians since 1976. For a time I sat in classes taught by Jane Schaberg at the University of Detroit. She was an excellent teacher, very kind to me, and welcomed my curiosity

I am familiar with Prof. MacMullen and have a high regard for his works in early Christianity.  Whether he is the "greatest historian of the Roman Empire alive today" is a matter of opinion.  I favor Erich Gruen, now 80, whose works on the transition from the late Roman Republic to the early Roman empire are without peer.


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Fr. Michael


A traditional Catholic priest, who provides forthright answers to questions FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF TRADITIONAL CATHOLICISM (not the New Order) on topics pertaining to TRADITIONAL Roman Catholicism, including theology, the Bible, Church history, the Latin language, liturgy (especially the Traditional Latin Mass), and music (especially Gregorian chant), and current events in the Catholic Church.

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