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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(2,804 words)

Author(s): Verhoef, Eduard
The city of Philippi was situated in Macedonia, in the northeast of Greece, about 150 km east of Thessalonica. At the request of the inhabitants of the few small settlements in the area, the Macedonian king Philip II founded a city there in the mid-4th century BCE with protective walls against the frequent raids of Thracians. He named the city after himself. It grew steadily, as the new city walls with its acropolis provided protection against intruders, and the soil around it was very fertile.After Macedonia was captured by the Romans in 168 BCE, Philippi became part of the Ro…
Date: 2020-12-17

Philosophical Opposition to Early Christianity

(7,233 words)

Author(s): Simmons, Michael Bland
The movement initiated by Jesus of Nazareth as a local sect within Judaism in 1st-century CE Palestine burgeoned into a Mediterranean universal salvation cult made more palatable to a broader Hellenistic culture under the effective missionary endeavors of Paul of Tarsus. As the new religion grew in population, it spread from the eastern provinces to Rome, and beginning in the early 2nd century CE, the doctrine of the early church primarily accentuated the application of practical ethical norms to the individual’s daily life as exemplified by such works as the Shepherd of Hermas, Epistle…
Date: 2020-12-17


(2,324 words)

Author(s): Jensen, Robin M.
From antiquity to the present, this mythical, long-lived bird has been a widely recognized symbol of rebirth and renewal. Although classical texts, Christian commentaries, and medieval bestiaries often link the Phoenix with the sacred benu bird, Egyptian worship of the sun god (Ra), and the Egyptian city of Heliopolis, other literary and iconographic evidence connect it also to India, Arabia, Syria, or China. Versions differ widely in their details but generally report that when the Phoenix reaches the end of its exceptionally l…
Date: 2020-12-17

Phōs Hilaron

(1,979 words)

Author(s): Field, Graham
Φῶς ἱλαρὸν/ Phōs Hilaron ( O Cheerful Light) is a brief, ancient hymn that has formed part of vespers in churches of the eastern tradition from early times to the present day, and has more recently been adopted by many western churches. Although traditionally associated with a lamp-lighting ceremony, the light addressed is not that of a lamp but Jesus Christ, identified with the glory of the Father. After a central Trinitarian doxology, the hymn concludes with the declaration that God is worthy to be praised at all times.DateNothing is known for certain about the hymn’s beginnings.…
Date: 2020-12-17

Pilate, Acts of

(1,425 words)

Author(s): Gounelle, Rémi
The Acts of Pilate was one of the most influent apocryphal accounts of Jesus’ passion and resurrection during the Middle Ages. It is also called the “Gospel of Nicodemus” ( Evangelium Nicodemi) – a title commonly used in western Christianity from the 12th century onward. It had been composed in Greek and was shortly thereafter translated to and adapted in many languages.Date of Composition and Milieu of OriginDue to the lack of any allusion to historically identifiable events or persons, the Acts of Pilate is difficult to date. Around 380 CE, Epiphanius of Salamis ( Pan. 50.1.5–8) alludes…
Date: 2020-12-17


(4,396 words)

Author(s): Burns, Dylan M.
πλήρωμα (“fullness”; pl. plērōmata) is a Greek word that assumed particular importance as a terminus technicus for divine presence in early Christian literature and especially our evidence regarding Gnosticism. In Classical and Hellenistic Greek, plērōma appeared in non-technical, colloquial, and everyday usages to denote a complete group, sum of a given quantity, the completion of something, or simply bodies occupying a particular space, such as the contents of a filled up vessel, or of a ship of cargo (for survey, see Markus, …
Date: 2020-12-17


(3,879 words)

Author(s): Humphries, Thomas
Pneumatomachi, or “Pneumatomachians” (also “Macedonians”), is the name ancient and modern theologians give to those who opposed the doctrine of the divinity of the Holy Spirit, especially in the period surrounding the Council of Constantinople (381 CE). The controversy includes debate about the exegesis of key scriptural verses, the appropriate use of select conciliar formulas, and theological-political alliances. Athanasius of Alexandria coined the term in his Epistulae ad Serapionem ( Letters to Serapion) around the year 358 CE; the name refers to “fighting agains…
Date: 2020-12-17