Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online

Get access Subject: Biblical Studies And Early Christianity
General Editors: David G. Hunter, Boston College, United States, Paul J.J. van Geest, Tilburg University, Netherlands, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands.

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 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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(3,128 words)

Author(s): Sales-Carbonell, Jordina
Among the Hispanic provinces resulting from the various Roman administrative reforms, Baetica is certainly the wealthiest, not only in terms of historical and archaeological evidence, but also with regard to the early proofs of its Christianization. The abundance of natural resources, and a rich and diverse orography, with fertile plains, mountains, and several kilometers of coastline – which allowed the intensive exploitation of agriculture, livestock, and fisheries – along with the wealth of m…
Date: 2022-09-22


(729 words)

Author(s): Griffin, Carl
Balai (fl. early 5th cent. CE) was a Syriac poet and chorepiscopus in Roman Syria renowned to later generations for his compositions in five-syllable meter, of which he was (incorrectly) thought to be the originator. A large number of supplicatory hymns ( ba‘awata) as well as other works in this meter are attributed to Balai in the West Syrian tradition, though titling does not always distinguish between works authored by him and those simply in his characteristic meter (Zetterstéen, 1902, 4). Of undisputed authenticity is a hymn ( madrasha) on the dedication of a church at Chalcis…
Date: 2022-09-22


(3,047 words)

Author(s): Sales-Carbonell, Jordina
Before falling under Roman control, the Balearic archipelago was divided into two parts: on the one hand the Pytiussae (Ibiza and Formentera), which belonged to the Phoenician-Punic κοινή, and on the other the Baliares (Majorca, Minorca, and the tiny Cabrera). The so-called Talayotic culture flourished on the latter during the prehistoric period. Located halfway between the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa, and the islands of Corsica and Sardinia, the Balearic Islands occupied a strategic positio…
Date: 2022-09-22


(6,128 words)

Author(s): Ferguson, Everett
Baptism is a central rite of entrance into the Christian church, normally in the early centuries CE observed as an immersion in water accompanied by a confession of faith in Christ (Christ, Jesus, 01: Survey).The application of water (by sprinkling, pouring, or dipping) for the purpose of ceremonial purity was common in ancient Mediterranean religions. Jewish practice according to rabbinic literature was a full bath, self-administered and frequently performed. Archaeological discoveries of mikvaoth (immersion pools) confirm the practice by law-observant Jews, includ…
Date: 2022-09-22


(2,657 words)

Author(s): Wienand, Johannes
The Greek and Roman concept of the barbarian (βάρβαρος) designates the foreigner in terms of language and origin, thus also denoting his or her linguistic and cultural otherness. From archaic times to late antiquity, the concept underwent characteristic changes and was eventually also employed by Christian authors in the construction of identities and alterities.The Greek ConceptThe ancient Greek noun βάρβαρος (along with the less frequently attested adjective βάρβαρος, the derivatives βαρβαρικός “barbaric, non-Greek”],  βαρβαρίζω [“to behave” or “s…
Date: 2022-09-22


(1,456 words)

Author(s): Teepe, Ramona
Barbelo (Gk Βαρβηλώ) is a name of an entity who in several texts attributed to “gnostics” is described as the first emanation of the androgynous God. Barbelo is not created by God but comes forth from him. Some narratives describe how she emerges from God’s overflowing thoughts (see the Apocryphon of John; John, Secret Revelation of) or that she is the reflection of God in the primal waters that became a separate being (Codex Berolinensis 8502: Apocryphon of John). She thus occupies the second place in the divine realm and is the source of all further existence. Part of h…
Date: 2022-09-22


(2,995 words)

Author(s): Sales-Carbonell, Jordina | Vilella Masana, Josep
Barcino, modern-day Barcelona (Spain), lay on the Mediterranean coast in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula, between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs. There, the Romans founded a small colony with little more than 19 km2 of urban area, its walls surrounding the gentle hill named Mons Taber (16.9 m above sea level), where there had previously been an Iberian settlement built by the Laietani. There is no agreement on the etymology of the name Barcino, but it is documented on Iberian coins.Romanization and Early ChristianityAs part of a major administrative reorganiza…
Date: 2022-09-22


(2,104 words)

Author(s): Ramelli, Ilaria L.E.
Bardaisan (154–222 CE) was a Christian philosopher and theologian. His interests embraced astronomy, archery, ethnography, geography, music, history, literature (including Christian “apocrypha”), poetry, and allegoresis. He was a friend of Abgar the Great (king of Edessa; Abgarids), with whom he had been educated in the Greco-Roman paideia, and a dignitary at his court. According to Eusebius of Caesarea ( Hist. eccl. 4.30), Bardaisan’s work Against Fate was dedicated to a Roman emperor, “Antoninus.” Julius Africanus, the Christian chronographer who correspond…
Date: 2022-09-22


(2,891 words)

Author(s): Burnet, Régis
One of the prominent leaders of the first community in Jerusalem, Barnabas was overshadowed by his second-in-command Paul and by the overwhelming figure of Peter. But eventually, his homeland, Cyprus, enabled him to regain prominence.Notable in the First Community of JerusalemBarnabas makes his first appearance in the Acts of the Apostles when he gives the proceeds of the sale of a field to the apostles. Acts 4:36–37 provides further explanations: he has a double name, Joseph and Barnabas; he is a Levite; he is a Cypriote. If Joseph w…
Date: 2022-09-22

Barnabas, Epistle of

(5,030 words)

Author(s): Lincicum, David
The Epistle of Barnabas is an early Christian tractate that evinces concern for a community to distance and differentiate itself from non-Christian Jews, to appropriate Jewish Scriptures as their own, and to live an ethical lifestyle. The details of its authorship, date, intention, and situation must be deduced from the text itself, and so competing hypotheses about these matters attend the Epistle.Manuscripts, Editions, and Translations Barnabas survives in full in two Greek manuscripts, both rediscovered in the 19th century: Codex Sinaiticus, in a hand assig…
Date: 2022-09-22

Bartholomew (Apostle)

(5,758 words)

Author(s): Burnet, Régis
While lists of the twelve apostles (Mark 3:16–19; Matt 10:2–4; Luke 6:14–16; Acts 1:13; Apostle/Disciple) always mention Bartholomew, there is no mention of him in the canonical texts, thus allowing a number of appropriations of his character. Bartholomew is one of the apostles who has known various receptions, depending on the communities and interests that took possession of him.An Unknown Apostle“Saint Bartholomew was a Galilean, as well as all the other apostles among whom he was placed by Jesus Christ (Christ, Jesus, 01: Survey), and that is all th…
Date: 2022-09-22


(1,772 words)

Author(s): Maritano, Mario
Basil, bishop of Cappadocia from 370 to 379 CE, built a "new city," as it was called by Gregory of Nazianzus ( Or. 43; 63), which, in honor of its founder, was then called "Basileiad" (see Soz. Hist. eccl. 6.34.9: "Basileiad, a famous hospice for the poor which was founded by Basil, bishop of Caesarea (Basil of Caesarea), from which at the beginning it took the name it keeps today" around 450 CE; Firm. Caes. Ep. 43 speaks of "the poor who live in Basileiad"): it had been created for the needs of the weak and destitute, to heal the sick and to give shelter to the poor a…
Date: 2022-09-22


(3,524 words)

Author(s): Löhr, Winrich
Basilides was a Christian teacher in Alexandria during the time of Hadrian (Clem. Strom. 7.106.4). Irenaeus of Lyon claims that Basilides was inspired by Simon Magus and a certain Menander (Iren. Haer. 1.24.1). However, since Irenaeus credits Basilides with a doctrine that probably reflects the views of later Basilideans (see below), his doxographical construction is very doubtful. We know very little about the life of Basilides or his school: he had a son and pupil called Isidore ( Strom. 2.113.3).Eus. Hist. eccl. 4.7.5–8 cites a certain Agrippa Castor with additional infor…
Date: 2022-09-22


(1,475 words)

Author(s): Gwynn, David M.
Basiliscus was an eastern Roman emperor from January 475 to August 476 CE. Basiliscus rose to prominence as a soldier in the 460s CE, aided by the influence of his sister Verina, the wife of Emperor Leo I (457–474 CE). In 465 CE he held the consulship, and in 468 CE he was given command as magister militum over the great expedition to retake North Africa from the Vandals. The expedition was a catastrophe, the fleet destroyed with enormous loss of life (Pro.  Bel. 3.6). There were accusations of treachery and corruption, that Basiliscus had taken bribes from the Vandal king Gai…
Date: 2022-09-22


(3,718 words)

Author(s): Bonnie, Rick
“Mikveh” (pl. mikva’ot), literally referring to a “gathering” as in a “gathering of water” ( mikveh mayim; Lev 11:36), is today commonly used to designate a humanmade deep, stepped pool that is being used for ritual immersion and purification from the state of impurity caused, for instance, by contact with sexual fluids or diseases. Archaeological excavations and surveys have uncovered hundreds of such water installations in the southern Levant, mainly in modern Israel but also in the West Bank, southern Lebanon, and western Jordan.Textual SourcesThe Old Testament records that …
Date: 2022-09-22


(3,398 words)

Author(s): Eklund, Rebekah
It is hard to overestimate the importance of the Beatitudes to early Christianity. This is especially true of Matthew’s version (Matt 5:3–12), which received comparatively greater attention than Luke’s version (Luke 6:20–26). Early Christians saw the Beatitudes, in Augustine of Hippo’s words, as perfectum vitae christianae modum (“the perfect mode of the Christian life”; Aug. Serm. Dom. 1.1.1). The Beatitudes shaped – and were shaped by – Christian understandings of virtue, theōsis, and the eschaton. Over time, the Beatitudes became a cornerstone in …
Date: 2022-09-22

Belisarius (Scholasticus)

(399 words)

Author(s): Ramelli, Ilaria L.E.
Belisarius (5th cent. CE; Bellesarius in most mss.), called Scholasticus or rhetorician to distinguish him from the homonymous general who lived under Emperor Justinian (d. 565 CE), was a Christian Latin intellectual from the late 5th century CE. We know practically nothing about his life and career. His name, Belisarius, was originally a Thracian name; it was used in Visigothic Iberia and in the Italic kingdom of the Longobards (Wagner, 1984).He is the author of an acrostic in praise of Sedulius’ poetry, placed by the manuscript tradition at the end of Sedulius’…
Date: 2022-09-22

Benedict I

(439 words)

Author(s): Ronzani, Rocco
Born in Rome as the son of Boniface, Benedict was the bishop of Rome for only four years (575–579 CE). During his brief papacy, he witnessed great hardships and afflictions ( LP, vol. I, 308) following the Lombard conquest of Italy and the ensuing famine. The invasion led to an interruption of regular contacts with Constantinople, and Benedict was consecrated only when the emperor’s permission was received on Jun 2, 575 CE, 11 months after his predecessor’s death. The abbot of the Monastery of Saint Mark in Spoleto appealed t…
Date: 2022-09-22

Benedict of Nursia

(1,676 words)

Author(s): Ronzani, Rocco
The second volume of Gregory the Great’s Dialogi is practically the only source we have about Benedict’s life (480/490–547 CE), whereas only very limited information can be gleaned from later texts such as Mark’s Versus in Benedicti laudem and an 11th-century hagiographical text from Cassino. Gregory’s broad biographical sketch has an openly hagiographical character, considering this work’s avowed aim, which mainly was to narrate the miracles performed by Italian saints. Hence, there have been doubts regarding its reliability. Howe…
Date: 2022-09-22
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