Drawing on anthropology, religious studies, history, and literary theory, Plagues, Priests, and Demons explores significant parallels in the rise of Christianity in the late Roman empire and colonial Mexico. Evidence shows that new forms of infectious disease devastated the late Roman empire and Indian America, respectively, contributing to pagan and Indian interest in Christianity. Christian clerics and monks in early medieval Europe, and later Jesuit missionaries in colonial Mexico, introduced new beliefs and practices as well as accommodated indigenous religions, especially through the cult of the saints. The book is simultaneously a comparative study of early Christian and later Spanish missionary texts. Similarities in the two literatures are attributed to similar cultural-historical forces that governed the 'rise of Christianity' in Europe and the Americas.

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