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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Polemon (Polemios)

(686 words)

Author(s): Orton, Robin
Polemon was a follower of Apollinaris of Laodicea about whose life, place of origin, or ecclesiastical position (if any) nothing is known, except that he is said by Valentinus to have been the teacher of Timotheus of Beirut. He must have been active in the 370s or 380s CE.Maximus the Confessor (Lietzmann, 1904, 274; PG 91.169.D) says that he was well named because he was “hostile (πολέμιος/ polemios) to the word of truth,” and Valentinus, presumably for similar reasons (Raven, 1923, 212n1), calls him Polemios rather than Polemon.The most significant of the fragments of Polemon tha…
Date: 2020-12-17


(478 words)

Author(s): Sato, Makiko
Pontianus Africae was an African bishop in the 6th century CE. Little is known about his life and career. No specialized monographs or articles on Pontianus have ever been published. Evidently, he wrote a letter to the emperor Justinian I in 544/545 CE, objecting to the emperor’s condemnation of the “Three Chapters” (PL 67.995–998). Several still extant writings by Roman North African clergy, such as Ferrandus of Carthage, Liberatus of Carthage, and Facundus of Hermiana, tell us that opposition …
Date: 2020-12-17


(6,239 words)

Author(s): Moorhead, John
Despite Jesus Christ’s injunction not to call anyone on earth “father” (Matt 23:9, teaching perhaps exemplified at Luke 2:48f.), his followers have often called people by this word. It has frequently been a term of affectionate respect. But one of its forms came to be widely used as a title of office, and one that eventually belonged solely to the most senior bishop in the entire church, the pope (Latin and Greek “papa").As the name by which they are known suggests, the early desert fathers were often addressed in words associated with paternity. The Life of Antony the Great ( Vita Antonii) tha…
Date: 2020-12-17

Porphyry of Tyre

(4,888 words)

Author(s): Simmons, Michael Bland
Porphyry was born in 234 CE (d. c. 305 CE) with the Semitic name Malchus (Gk Basileus, “king”) to a distinguished family in the city of Tyre in Roman Phoenicia (Eun. Vitae phil. 455). Longinus named him Porphyry after the magenta-colored attire of royalty (Eun. Vitae phil. 456; on Basileus see Suda 4.178.14–179.2; Porph. Vita Plot. 17.13–14). Famous for the study of Roman law and the production of a purple dye called porphyreum, Tyre was a Hellenized city in which Greco-Roman and Semitic cultures converged and where Porphyry acquired a sound knowledge of Syriac, amo…
Date: 2020-12-17

Potamius of Lisbon

(1,652 words)

Author(s): Ferreiro, Alberto
Potamius (4th cent. CE) is considered the earliest writer from 4th-century CE Hispania and was a contemporary of Osius of Córdoba, the famous bishop who was at the Council of Nicaea. Of Potamius’ personal biography we know absolutely nothing. We do not know when he was born or died, or his birthplace. We are on sure ground that he was indeed bishop of Lisbon (Olissipo) quite literally on the western edge of the Roman Empire. His appointment as bishop is believed to be around 355/356 CE during th…
Date: 2020-12-17


(7,388 words)

Author(s): Bick, Shraga
Late antiquity can fairly be seen as the age of the rise of the category of prayer. That, of course, does not deny the presence of prayers in earlier periods, as can be easily seen in the Bible. However, in late antiquity the scriptural descriptions of prayers are slowly and gradually being transformed into an organized category of prayer. This dramatic shift can be demonstrated through comparison of prayer to other religious rituals in the Bible. While regarding other rituals, such as sacrificing, we have specific norma…
Date: 2020-12-17

Predestination, Doctrine of

(6,809 words)

Author(s): Kantzer Komline, Han-luen
Early Christians did not always distinguish clearly between predestination and the cognate themes of “foreknowledge,” “providence,” and “election.” While the terms προορίζω and praedestinare – both translatable with the English term “predestine” – emphasize the priority of God’s choosing or determining, whether this is understood in a temporal or a logical sense, “predestination” and “election” are often used interchangeably (Stander, 1997, 367). Hence early Christian understandings of predestination cannot be confined …
Date: 2020-12-17


(5,702 words)

Author(s): Sanchez, Sylvain J.G.
In Hispania, the period of late antiquity was marked by the Christian asceticism that arose there through, among other things, the spread of a revival movement named after its founder as Priscillianism. Born around 345–350 CE, Priscillian was bishop of Avila in the late 4th century CE. A charismatic man and an accomplished preacher, his clarissimus rank identifies him as a member of the Roman social elite. Indeed, his family belonged to the class of wealthy landowners within the empire. This young aristocrat received a cultural education that was …
Date: 2020-12-17

Priscillian of Avila

(2,758 words)

Author(s): Toom, Tarmo
Priscillian of Avila (d. 385 or 386 CE) was an educated Spanish layman of noble descent, who preached ascetic holiness in the second half of the 4th century CE. 1 Pet 1:22, “we have purified our souls to obey the faith through the Spirit,” is the most cited text in his Tractates. Priscillian practiced and promoted celibacy, poverty, temporary anachōrēseis (“withdrawals”) to spiritual retreats during church holidays, vegetarianism, and the gift of “prophecy” into the deeper sense of Scripture. He made no attempt to organize a separate religious movement …
Date: 2020-12-17


(4,670 words)

Author(s): Latham, Jacob
A procession, ranging from imperial spectacles to local festivals and family rituals, was a ritualized escort of someone or something from one location to another (even back to the start) – an ordinary walk remade into a ceremony that created community and claimed civic space. As the cortege (a hierarchically arranged group often construed as a representation of the city) traversed its itinerary, it both transformed urban space into significant place and claimed (a place in) the city on behalf o…
Date: 2020-12-17

Procopius of Caesarea

(1,736 words)

Author(s): Greatrex, Geoffrey
Nearly all that is known about the career of the historian Procopius (c. 500–c. 560 CE) emerges from his own works. It is clear from these that he was born in Caesarea, Palestine, and became a lawyer. The wealth of his family evidently ensured access to a traditional education in the classics, in the course of which he may have spent time in the nearby city of Gaza, whose rhetoricians – such as Procopius and Choricius of Gaza – were flourishing in this period. All that is known about his career …
Date: 2020-12-17
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