Jesuit Prison Ministry in the Witch Trials of the Holy Roman Empire: Friedrich Spee SJ and His Cautio criminalis (1631), written by Frank Sobiech
Journal of Jesuit Studies
In response, Clines's argues that conversion must be seen as a process rather than an event, a step in a lifelong "conversion career" (9). "Conversions were never complete," and thus individuals had to constantly both situate themselves within and defend religious borders that were "too amorphous to define," but also "too important to ignore" (88). The process of religious identity formation was ephemeral, evolutionary, and inherently conflictual. As a result, conversion was "a persistent
... "a persistent source of anxiety" (11), and converts were often not trusted nor were their claims of religious transformation and conviction accepted at face value. Becoming a Christian (or Muslim or Jew) was "far more difficult than simply being baptized" (87): converts faced a lifetime of performing their new faith in ways that reassured suspicious members of both their new and old religious communities. Clines reads Eliano's numerous attempts at self-fashioning and controlling his narrative as a lifelong attempt to integrate by proving the veracity and sincerity of his fateful decision to become a Christian in a time and place that had serious doubts about the possibility of true conversion, and in which Jewish, Muslim, and Christian individuals and institutions consistently questioned his religious identity. A Jewish Jesuit in the Eastern Mediterranean is an engagingly written work of topnotch historical research that grapples with important questions about conversion and religious identity in new and imaginative ways. It is a valuable addition to the scholarship on these topics, and going forward, this book will be an important point of reference for scholars grappling with these thorny questions.