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.

More information:


(1,577 words)

Author(s): Tilley (†), Maureen A.
Caecilian (fl. c. 300–c. 325 CE) was bishop of Carthage in Africa Proconsularis (modern Tunisia) during a critical period in the early 4th century CE when his supporters and those of a succession of rival bishops split the Christian church and precipitated what came to be known as the Donatist schism (Donatism/Donatists). Nothing is known of Caecilian’s family background or early life. Notice of the first acts of his ecclesiastical career is found in two documents. They do not seem to be eyewitnesses or even contemporaries. One is the work of Optatus of Milevis ( Against Parmenian the Don…
Date: 2020-09-21

Caesarea in Palestine

(3,431 words)

Author(s): Patrich, Joseph
Caesarea, founded by King Herod the Great in the years 22–10 BCE, served as a military stronghold, administrative capital, and main harbor for his vast kingdom of Judaea. He named it after his patron in Rome – Caesar Augustus. The harbor was likewise named σεβαστός (Greek for Augustus). A network of five paved Roman roads connected the city with its countryside and with other inland cities. During the circa 650 years of its existence under Roman regime, it was a prospering city.In 68 CE Vespasian was proclaimed emperor by his troops in Caesarea (Jos. Bell. 4.488–506). In 71 CE it became …
Date: 2020-09-21


(1,694 words)

Author(s): Ramelli, Ilaria L.E.
Nothing is known about Calcidius’ life (4th cent. CE); no ancient author mentions his name. Since he supports the divine inspiration of Moses and Genesis, alludes to Jesus’ birth, and speaks of the end of human life in apparently Christian terms, it is probable that he was a Christian. However, this did not significantly influence the philosophical outlook of his work, which is broadly…
Date: 2020-09-21


(2,484 words)

Author(s): Barry, Jennifer
The term Canaan has its roots in the Hebrew כנען/ knʿn and combines the Semitic root k-n-c with a common suffix –(a)n. The term translates into Greek as Χαναάν and into Latin as Canaan. Of the multiple ways to read the word “Canaan” in late antiquity this article focuses on three: Canaan as land, as a people, and as a person.…
Date: 2020-09-21


(545 words)

Author(s): Marjanen, Antti
Candidus was a Christian teacher, active at the beginning of the 3rd century CE. Very little is known about him. The first explicit reference to Candidus is made by Jerome, who in his critique of Rufinus of Aquileia’s apology for Origen (Jer. Ruf. 2.18–19) indicates that there was a theological dispute, evidently at Athens, between Origen and Candidus, whom Jerome regarded as Valentinian. The written dialogue of the dispute, to which Jerome referred in his text, is no longer extant. Rufinus is also aware of the dispute, although he does not mention Candidus by name (Ruf. Adul. Orig. 7). Bo…
Date: 2020-09-21

Cannibalism, Accusation of

(2,068 words)

Author(s): McGowan, Andrew
The accusations of cannibalism made against the early Christians have often been seen as a misunderstanding of the body and blood imagery of Jesus’ last supper (1 Cor 11; see John 6), employed in reference to continuing eucharistic meals. The remarkable use of such symbolism demands some reflection, but the obvious symbolic correspondence between sacrament and accusation may not be as important as it appears, since comparison with other ancient accusations (and of instances in quite different se…
Date: 2020-09-21

Canon Muratori

(3,012 words)

Author(s): Guignard, Christophe
The Canon Muratori – or, more neutrally, the Muratorian Fragment – is a short yet incomplete Latin text about the New Testament books whose author is unknown. It owes its name to its discoverer, the Italian historian L.A. Muratori (1672–1750). He found it in Milan, in a manuscript (Cod. Ambr. 1.101, sup, fol. 10r–11r) of the second half of the 7th or t…
Date: 2020-09-21

Canon Romanus

(3,064 words)

Author(s): Romano, John F.
The Canon Romanus is an anaphora (eucharistic prayer), intended to transform the bread and wine offered at a Mass into the body and blood of Jesus. Although it may have been composed as a single prayer, in written form it would normally be presented as a series of individual formulas. The boundaries of what marked the beginning of the Canon Romanus in the context of the Mass are unclearly demarcated in our earliest manuscripts, but it was chanted after the offertory (in which the bread and wine were ceremonially offered) and before the praying of the “Pater noster” and the breaking and distribution of Communion. Taken at its maximum length, the Canon Romanus was no more than 15 individual formulas and approximately 735 words.The Canon Romanus is generally held to have been written in the 4th century CE, a critical period for the development of the liturgy and in particular written prayers designed to reinforc…
Date: 2020-09-21

Canon Tables, Eusebian

(1,845 words)

Author(s): Crawford, Matthew R.
The system known today in English as the Eusebian Canon Tables (following the German “Kanontafeln”) is a paratextual apparatus designed by Eusebius of Caesarea to serve as a cross-referencing guide to the fourfold gospel. It consists of three components. First, the text of each gospel is marginally annotated with a series of numbers that demarcate discrete sections of text, beginning with the number one at the start of each narrative and continuing to the end, resulting in 355 sections for Matth…
Date: 2020-09-21


(6,540 words)

Author(s): Ramelli, Ilaria L.E.
The Cappadocian Fathers were prominent 4th-century CE Christian theologians and bishops, profoundly influenced by Origen: Basil of Caesarea (b. 329/c. 330, d. end 378 CE), Gregory of Nazianzus (Nazianzen, b. 329/c. 330, d. 389/390 CE in Arianzus), Gregory of Nyssa (Nyssen), younger than Basil by some years (on Gregory’s life, see Ramelli, 2007; Silvas, 2007) – and the Cappadocian mother Macrina the Younger, the eldest sister of Basil and Nyssen and founder and leader of a double house-monastery,…
Date: 2020-09-21


(696 words)

Author(s): Caruso, Matteo
Capreolus was the bishop of Carthage between 427 and 437 CE, and the successor of the bishop of Carthage Aurelius, who died between 429 and 430 CE. Capreolus was bishop during the Vandalic occupation of North Africa. The emperor Theodosius II summoned the Council of Ephesus in 431 CE. Becau…
Date: 2020-09-21

Carmen de Sodoma/Carmen de Iona

(1,991 words)

Author(s): Döpp, Siegmar
Carmen de Sodoma (167 dactylic hexameters) and Carmen de Iona (105 dactylic hexameters) are two thematically related narrative poems that fall outside the canon of the biblical epic in late antiquity and appear in the manuscript tradition as works of Tertullian or of Cyprian of Carthage, although neither can be regarded as their true author for a variety of reasons, not least due to considerations of style (Peiper, 1891, xxviii). There is a good deal of uncertainty as to the poems' original titles. Specu…
Date: 2020-09-21


(6,150 words)

Author(s): Heydemann, Gerda
The family of Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator (c. 485–c. 580 CE), originally from the East (Syria), is attested in Italy (Calabria) since the mid-5th century CE, where they built up a tradition of service in the administration of the western Roman Empire. Cassiodorus’ father had served under Odoacer before going over to Theoderic in 490 CE. His support seems to have been decisive in ensuring the local loyalty in Bruttium and Lucania, and he acted as Praetorian Prefect in circa 503/507 CE and as an advisor at court (Cassio. Var. 1.3.3–4; 3.28; Jones & Martindale, 1980, 264f.). Cassiodorus, who had received a traditional classical education and studied together with Dionysius Exiguus (Cassio. Inst. 1.23.2), likewise made his political career in the Ostrogothic administration. After serving as an adviser ( consiliarius) to his father, he became Quaestor (c. 507–511 CE), then governor ( corrector) for Bruttium and Lucania and consul for the year 514 CE. In 523 CE, he succeeded Boethius as Master of the Offices (
Date: 2020-09-21


(2,783 words)

Author(s): Maritano, Mario
The name Cataphrygians was given to the followers of Montanus, a name derived from the place where this movement originated, between Phrygia and Mysia, in the second half of the 2nd century CE (see Markschies, 2012, 1197–1199; Berruto Martone, 1999, 127–130). From the beginning, ancient Christian authors used the expression “the Phygrian heresy” (Eus. Hist. eccl. 5.16.1; 5.18.1; 6.20.3), or even more briefly “Phrygians” (Clem. Strom. 4.93.1; 7.108.2; Anonimus ap. Eus. Hist. eccl. 5.16.22), “according to the Phrygians” (Epiph. Haer. 48.1.1; 48.1.3; 49.1; in Lat. secundum Phrygas: …
Date: 2020-09-21


(5,921 words)

Author(s): Day, Juliette J.
Catechesis (κατήχησις = catechesis, instruction; from κατηχεῖν = to teach or instruct orally) originally referred to any oral teaching, but in Christianity was applied exclusively to the instruction given to new Christians usually in connection with baptism. Latin adopted these Greek terms within an entirely Christian context to give catechizare, catechismus, catechumenus. Discerning the origin and development of early Christian catechesis is complicated by the application of these terms: is catechesis instruction that is only given to catechume…
Date: 2020-09-21


(1,824 words)

Author(s): Auwers, Jean-Marie
Biblical catenae (from Lat. catena, chain) are exegetical tools where the sacred text is accompanied by a continuous commentary made up entirely of excerpts from patristic authors. The biblical text (sometimes with hexaplaric readings incorporated in the margins or between the lines) is divided into units called biblical lemmata (which may extend over several modern verses, or simply consist of a single phrase); each lemma is commented on by a variable number of extracts (called scholia). The names …
Date: 2020-09-21


(3,123 words)

Author(s): Jacobsen, Anders-Christian
The identity of the Celsus who wrote the treatise Alêthês Logos, or the True Word, is blurred, among other things because his text is only known from Origen’s Contra Celsum, and because there were other famous persons by the name Celsus who have been confused with the author of Alêthês Logos.In Cels. 1.8, Origen says that he has heard about two Epicurean philosophers called Celsus. The first allegedly lived at the time of Nero (37–68), and the other at the time of Hadrian (r. 117–138). Origen thinks that it is the latter who wrote the treatise a…
Date: 2020-09-21

Celtic Liturgy

(2,487 words)

Author(s): Ritari, Katja
The term “Celtic liturgy” is used to refer to the early medieval liturgy in the Celtic-speaking lands; however, there was never a distinctive Celtic church, nor even uniform practice within the Celtic-speaking world of Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Brittany, and Gaul. Early Christians in the Celtic-speaking regions considered themselves to be members of the universal Catholic Church just as everyone else. In the early Middle Ages, there was regional variety in liturgy and ecclesiastical practice amo…
Date: 2020-09-21


(6,185 words)

Author(s): Chavarría Arnau, Alexandra
The study of cemeteries involves a wide set of aspects, ranging from geographical location, architecture, and how graves were made to grave goods, the manner of burial, and the analysis of the skeletons.Most researchers today agree that, between the end of the west Roman Empire and 1000 CE, an individual might be buried in diverse locations, either in or around towns and in the countryside. There was considerable topographical continuity with respect to previous Roman burial areas, which were located outside settlements (citie…
Date: 2020-09-21


(1,021 words)

Author(s): Marjanen, Antti
Cerdo was a Christian teacher, generally held to be a gnostic, who flourished at Rome in the time of Hyginus (136–140 CE), simultaneously with Valentinus and Marcion and somewhat earlier than Justin Martyr. If Cerdo committed anything in writing, nothing has been preserved of his texts. According to Epiphanius of Salamis ( Haer. 41.1.1) and Filastrius of Brescia ( Haer. 44), he was an immigrant from Syria. This information is uncertain, however, and may simply have its origin in Irenaeus of Lyon’s report according to which Cerdo adopted his system from the followers of Simon Magus (Iren. Ha…
Date: 2020-09-21


(2,652 words)

Author(s): Myllykoski, Matti
As many other so-called heretics, Cerinthus is known to us only through writings of those Christian teachers who had nothing good to say about him. Furthermore, none of these critics was contemporary to this disputed figure of the early 2nd-century CE Christianity in Asia Minor. In retrospection of later centuries, Simon Magus (Acts 8:5–25) and Nicolaus (Acts 6:5; Rev 2:6; 2:14; 2:20–24) were considered the earliest enemies of orthodox Christianity, since they were known by name from writings th…
Date: 2020-09-21
▲   Back to top   ▲