Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online

Get access Subject: Biblical Studies and Early Christianity
General Editors: David G. HUNTER, University of Kentucky, United States, Paul J.J. van GEEST, Tilburg University, Netherlands, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity focuses on the history of early Christian texts, authors, ideas. Its content is intended to bridge the gap between the fields of New Testament studies and patristics, covering the whole period of early Christianity up to 600 CE. The BEEC aims to provide a critical review of the methods used in Early Christian Studies and to update the historiography.

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Early Christianity is a multi-faceted and complex phenomenon – if we can even refer to it as a single phenomenon at all. Since the publication of W. Bauer’s groundbreaking study Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei im frühesten Christentum in 1934, the scholarly world has come increasingly to the conclusion that the variety of early Christian groups was not the result of the disintegration of a single, original form of Christianity over the course of several centuries but rather that variety has always been at the heart of what we call early Christianity.

The label “Christianity” is itself not unproblematic. Although the term naturally has a long history in the tradition of the Christian movement, its use, for example, to refer to 1st-century CE followers of Jesus is nevertheless an anachronism given that the term is first mentioned in the epistles of Ignatius of Antioch (Magn. 10.1, 3; Rom. 3.3; Phld. 6.1), dated to the early 2nd century CE. One can also question the appropriateness of its use for a number of groups that are currently seen as belonging to the extended family of early Christianity. Far from implying that “early Christianity” was a unified or monolithic movement, therefore, this encyclopedia uses the term as an umbrella covering a wide variety of historical phenomena.

In creating this Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, the editors have made a number of decisions with regard to its subject matter, scope, and structure. The first choice made was to focus on the most significant topics concerning early Christianity: the most important authors, texts, ideas, and places that played a role in the history of the development of Christianity. While it is impossible to provide the user with a comprehensive survey of every detail in the growth of the Christian movement, an effort was made to cover the topics that would best provide the reader with a reliable map of the early Christian movement.

A second decision made was the time period to be covered. Any periodization is bound to be arbitrary to some extent, and thus prone to criticism. For the purposes of this encyclopedia, the editors decided that the end of the 6th century CE should be the cut-off point, as by that time Christianity was established as the Orthodox, Catholic Church in both the West as well as in the East. The formative debates on the nature of God and Christ had been more or less settled, and the biblical canon had been selected and approved by church councils. In the West, the demise of the Roman Empire had led to a new political constellation, and in the East, the rise of the Byzantine Empire ushered in a new era. Late antiquity may not have a clear beginning nor a well-defined end, but it is clear that the 6th century CE belongs to late antiquity and ushered in the start of the Middle Ages. These terms are also modern labels, of course, and also subject to debate. And yet the 6th century CE has the characteristics of a transitional age in the history of early Christianity and, as such, the editors decided to include it within the scope of the encyclopedia.

Early Christianity, in all its variety, did not originate in a vacuum. It started as an intra- Jewish reform movement in Palestine, led by Jesus of Nazareth. Within one generation after Jesus’ ministry it spread over large parts of the Roman Empire, reaching Rome even before Paul. As more and more non-Jews joined the movement, Greco-Roman customs and ideas also came to play an important role. For this reason, early Christianity is just as connected with the Greco-Roman context within which it grew as with its Jewish roots. However, notwithstanding these connections, the focus of the encyclopedia is early Christianity, and Jewish and Greco-Roman topics feature only where strictly relevant.

Two other choices were important for the scope and form of BEEC: the need to bridge the divide between the fields of New Testament studies and Patristics, and the history of scholarship of the entries.

The fields of New Testament studies and Patristics have, over the years, grown into two separate specializations, organized into two different disciplines with their own methodologies and scholarly traditions. This makes collaboration on a project such as this a sometimes complicated task. And yet, there is no logical reason to divide early Christianity into these two separate fields. For this encyclopedia, the period covered is seen as an organic whole in which a large number of developments took place that led to the formation of the Christian church as a recognizable entity, and to the formulation of the orthodox Christian creeds as guidelines for the faith tradition.

The second decision was to include in each entry some discussion of the modern history of scholarship. Often, this historiographical discussion is included as a separate paragraph; sometimes it is interwoven with the description of the topic of the entry. Our hope is that students of early Christianity who intend to research a particular subject will find their first information in BEEC, and will be able to proceed with their research on the basis of the information found here. The articles included in the BEEC are based on exhaustive research, using both primary and secondary sources. Wherever relevant, we also include an overview of the historiography of the subject of a particular entry. If the subject of an entry has been extensively studied in the past, its historiography is included in a separate paragraph. In all other cases, the historiography is referred to where necessary. In several cases, no historiography was required, as only one or two studies on the particular subject have been published.

The editors of BEEC hope that this encyclopedia will find its way into the libraries of universities, colleges, religious, and other institutions, as well as the studies of many individual scholars. The digital version of the encyclopedia will not require much space on the shelves of a library or study, and will be easy to access and search. May it prove to be a useful and inspiring tool for the study and further understanding of early Christianity.

The General Editors

David G. Hunter
Paul J.J. van Geest
Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte

General Editors:
David G. Hunter, University of Kentucky, United States
Paul J.J. van Geest, Tilburg University, Netherlands
Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Consultant Editor:
Angelo di Berardino, Augustinianum, Italy

Section Editors:
Juliette Day, University of Helsinki, Finland
David Eastman, Ohio Wesleyan University, United States
Robin M. Jensen, University of Notre Dame, United States
Robert Kitchen, Sankt Ignatios Theological Academy, Sweden
Rebecca Krawiec, Canisius College, Buffalo, New York, United States
Jacob AbrahamLatham, University of Tennessee, United States
Outi Lehtipuu, University of Helsinki, Finland
Christoph Markschies, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany
Bronwen Neil, Macquarie University, Australia
Karin Berber Neutel, University of Oslo, Norway
Geert van Oyen, University of Louvain, Belgium
Karla Pollmann, University of Bristol, United Kingdom
Joshua Schwartz, Bar-Ilan University, Israel
Kristina Sessa, Ohio State University, United States
Tarmo Toom, John Leland Center for Theological Studies & Georgetown University, United States

  • Aba (Mar)
  • Abbreviations in Journals and Series
  • Abbreviations in Lexicons.
  • Abbreviations in Primary Sources
  • Abdon and Sennen
  • Abelites
  • Abercius
  • Abgarids
  • Abortion
  • Abraham of Pbou
  • Abraham, Testament of
  • Abrasax
  • Acacian Schism
  • Acacius of Constantinople
  • Acheiropoietai
  • Acilius Glabrio
  • Acolyte
  • Acts, Book of
  • Ad Novatianum
  • Ad Sanctos
  • Adam
  • Adam (Vita Adae et Evae)
  • Adam and Eve
  • Adam, Testament of
  • Adamites
  • Addai
  • Adiabene
  • Adimantus
  • Adoption
  • Adoptionists
  • Adrian
  • Aeon
  • Africa
  • Afterlife
  • Agape
  • Agatha
  • Agathangel0s
  • Agathangelus of Rome
  • Agilulf
  • Agnes
  • Agraphon
  • Agrestius
  • Agrippa Castor
  • Akathistos
  • Aksum (Axum)
  • Alaric I
  • Alexander I
  • Alexander I of Alexandria
  • Alexander of Constantinople
  • Alexander of Jerusalem
  • Alexandria, 03: School of
  • Allegory
  • Altar of Victory
  • Altercatio Heracliani
  • Amandus
  • Amasea
  • Amastris
  • Ambrose (Disciple of Didymus)
  • Ambrose (Friend of Origen)
  • Ammianus Marcellinus
  • Ammon
  • Ammonius Saccas
  • Amphilochius
  • Amphipolis
  • Anacletus
  • Ananias and Sapphira
  • Anaphora
  • Anastasia Pharmacolitria
  • Anastasius (Emperor)
  • Anastasius of Thessalonica
  • Anatolius of Constantinople
  • Anazarbus
  • Ancyra
  • Andrew (Apostle)
  • Andrew of Samosata
  • Andrew, Acts of
  • Anemius
  • Angers
  • Anianus of Orléans
  • Anicetus
  • Animals
  • Anointing
  • Anonymous Appolinarist/Apollinarian Forgeries
  • Anthony (Poet)
  • Anthropology
  • Anthropomorphism
  • Anti-Judaism
  • Antichrist
  • Antidicomarianites
  • Antioch
  • Antony the Great
  • Apatheia
  • Apelles
  • Aphrahat
  • Apocrisarius
  • Apocriticus
  • Apokatastasis
  • Apollinaris of Hierapolis
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea
  • Apollinaris of Valence
  • Apollonius of Tyana
  • Aponius
  • Apophthegmata Patrum
  • Apostle/Disciple
  • Apostles, Apocryphal Acts of
  • Apostolic Canons
  • Apostolic Fathers
  • Apostolic Tradition (Traditio Apostolica)
  • Arator
  • Arbogast
  • Archbishop
  • Archimandrite
  • Archpriest
  • Arian Sermons
  • Arianism
  • Aristides of Athens
  • Aristo of Pella
  • Aristotelianism
  • Arnobius of Sicca
  • Asarbus
  • Ascension of Isaiah
  • Ascitae
  • Asia, Central
  • Assembly/Meeting
  • Asterius the Sophist
  • Asterius Turcius Rufus
  • Astrology
  • Asylum, Right of
  • Ataraxia
  • Atonement
  • Atonement, Day of
  • Atticus
  • Augustus
  • Auspicius of Toul
  • Autobiography
  • Auxentius of Milan
  • Axiopolis
  • Aërius
  • Aëtius Flavius
  • Baetica
  • Balai
  • Baleares
  • Baptism
  • Barbarians
  • Barcelona
  • Bardaisan
  • Barnabas
  • Barnabas, Epistle of
  • Bartholomew (Apostle)
  • Basileiad
  • Basilides
  • Basiliscus
  • Bath/Mikveh
  • Belisarius (Scholasticus)
  • Benedict I
  • Benedict of Nursia
  • Bethphage
  • Bethsaida
  • Bibiana
  • Bible, 04: Formation of Canons
  • Bible, 06: Septuagint/Old Greek
  • Bible, 08: Peshitta
  • Bible, 11: Vulgate
  • Bible, 12: Armenian
  • Bible, 15: Arabic Versions
  • Bible, 16: Vetus Syra
  • Bible, 17: Diatessaron/Syriac
  • Biblical Interpretation
  • Biography
  • Birds
  • Bishop (Episcopos)
  • Blandina
  • Blessing
  • Bodmer Papyri
  • Body
  • Boniface I
  • Boniface II
  • Bonosus
  • Book of Steps
  • Borboriani
  • Braga
  • Breviarum Hipponense
  • Burgundy
  • Byzantine Liturgy
  • Caecilian
  • Caesarea in Palestine
  • Calcidius
  • Canaan
  • Candidus
  • Canon Muratori
  • Canon Romanus
  • Canon Tables, Eusebian
  • Cappadocians
  • Capreolus
  • Carmen de Sodoma/Carmen de Iona
  • Cassiodorus
  • Cataphrygians
  • Catechesis
  • Catenae
  • Celtic Liturgy
  • Cerdo
  • Chalcedon
  • Charm
  • Cherubs
  • China
  • Chorbishop
  • Christ, Jesus, 02: Birth and Infancy Narratives
  • Christ, Jesus, 03: Descent into Hell
  • Christianity and Classical Culture
  • Christians and Jews (Parting of the Ways)
  • Christmas
  • Christology, 02: Third Century CE
  • Chromatius of Aquileia
  • Chronograph of 354
  • Church and Empire
  • Church Authority
  • Church Membership
  • Church Organization
  • Churches of Lyons and Vienne, Letter of the
  • Circumcision
  • Claudian
  • Claudius
  • Clementine Literature, Pseudo-
  • Clovis
  • Codex
  • Codex Justinianus
  • Codex Theodosianus
  • Collatio cum Donatistis
  • Collatio Legum
  • Collects
  • Comfort
  • Community Letters
  • Complaint
  • Conon
  • Conon of Bidana
  • Constantia (Flavia Iulia Constantia)
  • Constantine I
  • Constantinople, 03: Second Council of (Fifth Ecumenical Council; 553 CE)
  • Constantius I
  • Constantius II
  • Constantius III
  • Continentes
  • Corinth
  • Corinthians, Third Epistle to the
  • Cornelius (Pope)
  • Creation (Double)
  • Cresconius
  • Cross/Crucifixion
  • Cryptography
  • Cubicularius
  • Cyprian of Carthage
  • Cyprus
  • Cyril of Jerusalem
  • Cyrillona
  • Dadisho‘ I
  • Daniel
  • David
  • De bono pudicitiae
  • De recta in Deum fide
  • Dead, Realm of the
  • Death
  • Decius
  • Decretum Gelasianum
  • Dedication, Council of the
  • Delphinus of Bordeaux
  • Demetrian of Antioch
  • Deo laudes
  • Deogratias
  • Deportation/Exile
  • Devil
  • Diakonia
  • Didache
  • Didascalia Apostolorum
  • Diocletian
  • Diodore of Tarsus
  • Diognetus, Epistle to
  • Diptych
  • Domitilla
  • Dormition and Assumption Apocrypha
  • Dorotheus of Gaza
  • Dream
  • Dumium
  • Dura-Europos
  • Early Christian Churches of the Holy Land
  • Ebionites, Gospel of the
  • Ebionites/Ebionitism
  • Edessa
  • Edict of Claudius
  • Egyptians, Gospel of the (Greek)
  • Elchasaites
  • Elijah
  • Emilia
  • Emotion
  • Encratism/Encratites
  • Enhypostasis
  • Ennodius
  • Ephesus, First Ecumenical Council
  • Epictetus
  • Epiphanius of Salamis
  • Essenes
  • Etimasia/Hetoimasia
  • Eucherius of Lyon
  • Eugenius
  • Eugenius of Ancyra
  • Eugenius of Carthage
  • Eusebians
  • Eusebius of Alexandria
  • Eusebius of Caesarea
  • Eusebius of Caesarea in Cappadocia
  • Eusebius of Vercelli
  • Excerpta Latina Barbari
  • Excommunication
  • Ezana
  • Ezekiel
  • Fan
  • Felicity
  • Fire
  • Firmicus Maternus
  • Firmilian of Caesarea
  • First Thought, Three Forms of
  • Flavianus
  • Flavius Clemens
  • Flavius Josephus
  • Fortunatianus of Aquileia
  • Forty Martyrs of Sebaste
  • Friendship
  • Fructuosus of Braga
  • Gaius
  • Galatia
  • Galen
  • Galicia
  • Galla Placidia
  • Gallican Liturgy
  • Gallienus
  • Gaudentius of Brescia
  • Gaul
  • Gehenna
  • Gender
  • General abbreviations
  • Gennesareth
  • Genovefa (Genevieve) of Paris
  • Georgia
  • Gerontius
  • Gildas the Wise
  • Glossolalia
  • Gnosis/Knowledge
  • Gordius
  • Goths
  • Great Invisible Spirit, Holy Book of the
  • Gregory of Nazianzus
  • Gregory of Nyssa
  • Gregory of Tours
  • Gregory Thaumaturgus
  • Gregory the Great
  • Hades
  • Halakhah
  • Helvidius
  • Hermas, Shepherd of
  • Hermenegild
  • Hilary of Arles
  • Historia monachorum
  • Honoratus Antoninus
  • Hospitality
  • Hymnography (Greek)
  • Hymnography (Latin)
  • Ibas of Edessa
  • Iconology/Icons/Iconicity
  • Ignatians, Pseudo-
  • Ignatius, Epistles of
  • Immortality
  • Innocent I
  • Ireland
  • Irenaeus of Lyons
  • Isaiah: 01. Iconography
  • Isauria
  • Isidore of Pelusium
  • Jairus
  • James the Great
  • James, Epistle of
  • John Arkaph
  • John Chrysostom
  • John, Epistles of
  • John, Secret Revelation of
  • Jonah
  • Joppa (Jaffa)
  • Judas, Gospel of
  • Julian the Apostate
  • Justin Martyr
  • Justina of Padua
  • Justinian
  • Juvencus
  • King/Kingdom
  • Kingdom of God
  • Kiss
  • Laurentian Schism
  • Law/Decalogue/Torah
  • Lazarus
  • Leo I
  • Liber diurnus
  • Liturgical Language
  • Love (Biblical Concept)
  • Maccabees
  • Magic
  • Magnificat
  • Marcian
  • Marcus Gnosticus/Marcosians
  • Marius Victorinus
  • Marseilles
  • Martyrium Polycarpi (Martyrdom of Polycarp)
  • Martyrs, Acts of the
  • Martyrs, Cult of
  • Mary, Gospel of
  • Matthew, Pseudo-
  • Mauricius
  • Melania Junior
  • Melania Senior
  • Merobaudes
  • Messianism and Messianic Movements
  • Micah
  • Midrash
  • Minucius Felix
  • Monarchianism
  • Monasticism, Palestinean
  • Montanism/Montanists
  • Nag Hammadi, Writings
  • Nazarenes, Gospel of
  • Nazarenes, Sect of
  • Nemesius of Emesa
  • Nimbus
  • Novatian
  • Odes of Solomon
  • Old Syriac
  • Olympias
  • Ophites/Naassenes
  • Orange
  • Ordination
  • Origen
  • Pachomius of Tabennese
  • Pacianus
  • Palestine
  • Pancras
  • Parousia
  • Passio Martyrum Scillitanorum
  • Passion of Perpetua and Felicity
  • Paul and Thecla, Acts of
  • Paulinus of Nola
  • Paulinus of Pella
  • Pelagians/Pelagianism
  • Pelagius
  • Pelagius I
  • Pentecost
  • Perfect Discourse, Excerpt from the
  • Persecution of Christians
  • Peter (Patriarch of Jerusalem)
  • Peter and the Twelve Apostles, Acts of
  • Peter, Apocalypse of
  • Philippi
  • Philo of Alexandria
  • Philosophical Opposition to Early Christianity
  • Phōs Hilaron
  • Pilate, Acts of
  • Pneumatomachi
  • Polemon (Polemios)
  • Pope/Father
  • Porphyry of Tyre
  • Potamius of Lisbon
  • Priscillian of Avila
  • Procopius of Caesarea
  • Quodvultdeus of Carthage
  • Rabbi
  • Rabbula of Edessa
  • Relics
  • Resurrection (General)
  • Resurrection of Jesus Christ
  • Rhetoric
  • Righteousness/Justice/Justification
  • Rimini
  • Romanos the Melodist
  • Rufinus of Aquileia
  • Ruricius of Limoges
  • Sacramentarium Gelasianum
  • Sacrifice
  • Samson
  • Sanctus
  • Saragossa/Zaragossa
  • Sardica
  • Scala Coeli
  • Scapula
  • Scribes
  • Sedulius
  • Seneca, Correspondence of Paul and
  • Sermon on the Mount
  • Seth, Second Discourse of the Great
  • Seth, Three Steles of
  • Sethians
  • Sextus, Sentences of
  • Shem, Paraphrase of
  • Shenoute of Atripe
  • Sidonius Apollinaris
  • Simplician of Milan
  • Siricius
  • Slave/Slavery
  • Socrates Scholasticus
  • Son of Man
  • Statuta ecclesiae antiqua
  • Stilicho
  • Symmachians
  • Symmachus (Pope)
  • Synagogue
  • Syncletica
  • Tacitus
  • Tarraconensis
  • Tatian
  • Testamentum Domini
  • Thamugadi
  • Theodore of Heraclea
  • Theodoret of Cyrrhus
  • Theodoric the Great
  • Theophilus of Alexandria
  • Timotheus of Beirut
  • Toledo
  • Toulouse
  • Tours
  • Traditor
  • Traducianism
  • Tripartite Tractate
  • Two Ways Doctrine
  • Tyconius
  • Vaison
  • Valens
  • Valentinus
  • Vannes
  • Venantius Fortunatus
  • Vincent of Lérins
  • Water, in the Bible
  • Wealth
  • Word
  • Zosimus (Historian)
  • Zosimus (Pope)
  • “Akathistos”

  • 1. Abraham, Testament of by Nicolae Roddy
    2. Adrian by Peter Martens
    3. Anthropology by Ilaria L.E. Ramelli
    4. Antioch by Christopher W.B. Stephens
    5. Apocrisarius by Bronwen Neil
    6. Apostolic Tradition (Traditio Apostolica) by Paul Bradshaw
    7. Atticus by Geoffrey D. Dunn
    8. Boniface I by Geoffrey D. Dunn
    9. Canon Tables, Eusebian by Matthew R. Crawford
    10. Constantia (Flavia Iulia Constantia) by Walt Stevenson
    11. Constantius I by A.D. Lee
    12. Constantius II by Walt Stevenson
    13. Constantius III by A.D. Lee
    14. Cyprian of Carthage by Geoffrey D. Dunn
    15. Didascalia Apostolorum by Daniel Benga
    16. Diocletian by Michael Bland Simmons
    17. Ebionites, Gospel of the by Sakari Häkkinen
    18. Edessa by Ilaria L.E. Ramelli
    19. Encratism/Encratites by Naomi Koltun-Fromm
    20. Essenes by Atar Livneh
    21. Eucherius of Lyon by Joop van Waarden
    22. Eusebius of Alexandria by Rémi Gounelle
    23. Excommunication by Kevin Uhalde
    24. Ezekiel by Angela Russell Christman
    25. Fan by Benedict Yates
    26. First Thought, Three Forms of by John D. Turner
    27. Gaudentius of Brescia by Rita Lizzi Testa
    28. Gregory of Nazianzus by Suzanne Abrams Rebillard
    29. Gregory Thaumaturgus by Francesco Celia
    30. Hilary of Arles by Ralph W. Mathisen
    31. Historia monachorum by John Wortley
    32. Innocent I by Geoffrey D. Dunn
    33. Irenaeus of Lyon by Anders-Christian Jacobsen
    34. Joppa (Jaffa) by Luke Neubert
    35. Justin Martyr by Tobias Georges
    36. Leo I by Bronwen Neil
    37. Merobaudes by Joop van Waarden
    38. Midrash by Peter J. Tomson
    39. Monarchianism by Simon Gerber
    40. Palestine by Joshua Schwartz
    41. Peter (Patriarch of Jerusalem) by Leah Di Segni
    42. Potamius of Lisbon by Alberto Ferreiro
    43. Rabbi by Peter J. Tomson
    44. Relics by Robert Wiśniewski
    45. Rufinus of Aquileia by Samuel Fernández
    46. Sacrifice by Daniel Ullucci
    47. Samson by Klaas Spronk
    48. Scapula by Mark A. Frisius
    49. Scribes by Catherine Hezser
    50. Seth, Second Discourse of the Great by Dylan M. Burns
    51. Sextus, Sentences of by Ilaria L.E. Ramelli
    52. Sidonius Apollinaris by Ralph W. Mathisen
    53. Siricius by Geoffrey D. Dunn
    54. Symmachians by Edwin Keith Broadhead
    55. Synagogue by Chad Spigel
    56. Tacitus by Kelly. E. Shannon
    57. Thamugadi by Gareth Sears
    58. Tours by Yaniv Fox
    59. Two Ways Doctrine by F.J. Elizabeth Boddens Hosang
    60. Water, in the Bible by Erhard S. Gerstenberger