After years of work and decades of research, Dr. Allen Jones has a new book on the shelves that features cover art from a Troy University colleague.
“Death and Afterlife in the Pages of Gregory of Tours” is the second book authored by Jones, Chair of the History and Philosophy Department at TROY, and sheds new light on an often-misunderstood medieval figure.
“Gregory of Tours is sort of famous among medievalists for writing something generally called ‘The History of the Franks,’ but he wasn’t writing about the people called Franks who moved to what is now France, but, rather, he was writing to try to save souls,” Jones said.
Jones’ book is divided into two parts, one focusing on death and the other on the afterlife.
He makes the assertion that Gregory’s experiences with death in the early Middle Ages created in him a concern for salvation. The second half of the book illustrates how Gregory, in his writings, encourages people to repent and obtain salvation.
“He started his career writing about saints, showing positive examples one could emulate, but there was so much violence he was experiencing that he then decided to write history so that he could write positive and negative examples,” Jones said. “He watches how people die and reads that as signs, as evidence of people incurring not only salvation, but damnation.”
The book is the culmination for Jones of more than 30 years of study on the subject.
While aimed at graduate-level scholars, the book has a narrative that can be understood at the undergraduate level.
“I’m putting out there a new explanation for why he’s writing this very famous history,” Jones said. “Murder, mayhem, violence, an individual centuries before Dante speculating about other people’s afterlife prospects — that’s really intriguing.”
When it came time to craft a cover for his book, Jones reached out to his friend, TROY art professor Greg Skaggs.
“Greg and I are friends, and I guess along the way I was joking with him that I would really love to have a book that incorporated the theme of death and afterlife,” Jones said. “Greg drew this absolutely wonderful piece of art and it’s found its way onto the cover. It’s a depiction of a skull with a heavenly, cloudy scene above and a dark, hellish scene below. I keep the original art work in my office.”
The book can be found online at retailers like Amazon, and Jones also plans to have copies available at the TROY library.