Salzman, Michele Renee 1952-
Salzman, Michele Renee 1952-
Born August 2, 1952, in Brooklyn, NY; daughter of Aron and Sylvia Salzman; married Steven Gregory Brint, 1985; children: Juliana, Benjamin. Education: Brooklyn College, City University of New York, B.A., 1973; Bryn Mawr, M.A., 1975, Ph.D., 1981. Hobbies and other interests: Tennis, aerobics, reading.
Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA, classics lecturer, 1980; Columbia University, New York, NY, visiting assistant professor of classics, 1980-82; Boston University, Boston, MA, assistant professor of classics, 1982-90, associate professor, 1990-95; University of California, Riverside, associate professor of history, 1995-2000, multicampus research group, 1999, history department chair, 1999-2000, professor, 2000—. Also served as project director, Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, Claremont Graduate University, 1999; professor in charge of Intercollegiate Center for Classified Studies in Rome, 2003-04.
Mellon Fellow in Classical Studies, American Academy in Rome, 1986-87.
On Roman Time: The Codex-Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1990.
Michele Renee Salzman was born August 2, 1952, in Brooklyn, New York. She earned her undergraduate degree in Latin from Brooklyn College, part of the City University of New York, in 1973, then went on to earn her master's degree and her doctorate from Bryn Mawr, studying both Latin and Greek. Over the course of her career, she has taught at a number of institutions of higher learning, including Swarthmore College, where she served as a lecturer in classics; Columbia University, where she spent two years as a visiting assistant professor of classics; Boston University, where she began as an assistant professor of classics and later became an associate professor; and the University of California at Riverside, where she began as an associate professor of history and is now a full professor, also serving for a year as the head of the department. In addition, she spent time at the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, at Claremont Graduate University, as a project director, and a year in Rome, Italy, where she oversaw the Intercollegiate Center for Classified Studies. Aside from her academic endeavors, Salzman has written a several books, including On Roman Time: The Codex-Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity and The Making of a Christian Aristocracy: Social and Religious Change in the Western Roman Empire.
Salzman's The Making of a Christian Aristocracy addresses the question of just how the end of Roman paganism, such a long-held series of beliefs, occurred so rapidly during the fifth century, when a major rise in Christianity suddenly seemed to overtake the region and overwhelm the remaining enclaves of pagan believers. For a long time, the majority of historians felt it was the decline and eventual collapse of the Roman Empire, followed by a series of other difficulties, which caused the people to turn away from their traditional religious models in search of something new and more uplifting. However, others suggest that there were other underlying issues that helped to sway popular opinion toward Christianity and away from the pagan deities, and it is these quieter, more controversial influences that Salzman focuses on in her book.
The Making of a Christian Aristocracy is very much a work of contrasts, as Salzman methodically takes each previous concept regarding the Roman change over to Christian beliefs and shows alternative ideas and why they appear more logical than the more common theories. While historically this period was considered one of rapid conversion, she proposes a more gradual change, one in which the members of the senatorial class led the way starting in approximately 367 A.D., with the rule of Gratian. This contradicts previous theories which proposed that the imperial class was the major force in the transition to Christianity. Salzman also suggests that women were less influential in the conversion process than has been thought, and that instead of being instrumental in converting Roman males to Christianity, they themselves were more often the ones to be convinced to make the change, following the course set down by their fathers and/or their brothers. Most of Salzman's theories are the result of in-depth research which led her to create a database covering the lives of more than four hundred senatorial individuals, primarily men, who lived during the crucial time period relating to the switch from paganism to Christianity. While this cross section makes up just a small percentage of the senators of the time, and Salzman can substantiate the religions of only about half of the individuals recorded, the numbers still appear representative.
While this is not a new concept, Salzman has collected far more detailed data than has been addressed previously, which allows her a far clearer picture of the individuals she includes in her study. But while she shows that a different portion of the population was in all likelihood behind the sudden conversion to Christianity among the Romans, she is still unable to isolate a motivating factor for the change. Regardless, she has provided historians with a wealth of new information to draw from in their continued analysis of these circumstances. H.A. Drake, in a review for Church History, remarked that "Salzman's database, admittedly modest, has established an empirical touchstone by which to measure arguments based primarily on literary sources, but what distinguishes her study is its balanced use of statistical and literary evidence, for she shows herself to be a careful and thoughtful guide in the use of both." Maureen A. Tilley, in another review for Church History, commented that "one of the great values of Salzman's work is that she differentiates various areas of the empire and career paths. She offers case studies on Milan, Rome, and North Africa. As one might expect, the elites of the provinces were more interested in impressing the emperor and his bureaucracy and, therefore, were less resistant to conversion than the old families of Rome."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, October 1, 1992, David Potter, review of On Roman Time: The Codex-Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity, p. 1192; February 1, 2003, review of The Making of a Christian Aristocracy: Social and Religious Change in the Western Roman Empire, p. 235.
Catholic Historical Review, October 1, 2002, T.D. Barnes, review of The Making of a Christian Aristocracy, p. 748.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, October 1, 2002, G.J. Miller, review of The Making of a Christian Aristocracy, p. 297.
Christian Century, September 11, 2002, review of The Making of a Christian Aristocracy, p. 45.
Chronicle of Higher Education, February 15, 2002, "Nota Bene: ‘The Making of a Christian Aristocracy: Social and Religious Change in the Western Roman Empire.’"
Church History, December 1, 2004, H.A. Drake, review of The Making of a Christian Aristocracy, p. 834; March 1, 2006, Maureen A. Tilley, review of The Making of a Christian Aristocracy, p. 168.
First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, August 1, 2002, Robert Louis Wilken, review of The Making of a Christian Aristocracy.
Greece & Rome, April 1, 1992, P. Walcot, review of On Roman Time, p. 114.
Isis, September 1, 1992, Bert S. Hall, review of On Roman Time, p. 478.
Journal of Ecclesiastical History, April 1, 2004, Alexander Skinner, review of The Making of a Christian Aristocracy, p. 344.
Journal of Religion, July 1, 2003, Peter White, review of The Making of a Christian Aristocracy, p. 456.
Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies, April 1, 2005, Mark Vessey, review of The Making of a Christian Aristocracy, p. 670.
Bryn Mawr Classical Review Online,http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/ (June 4, 2002), James J. O'Donnell, review of The Making of a Christian Aristocracy.
H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (June 1, 2004), Timo Stickler, review of The Making of a Christian Aristocracy.
University of California at Riverside History Department,http://history.ucr.edu/ (May 28, 2008), faculty profile.