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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Dadisho‘ I

(1,170 words)

Author(s): Russell, Paul S.
Dadishoʻ I was bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon and head of the Church of the East (he is often called the “first catholicos,” though that title and the use of the term “patriarch” seem to arise later). Nothing of Dadishoʻ’s theological positions or of what he thought of the controversies around Nestorius is known. His only writings, commentaries on some Old Testament books that seem to have been uncontroversial, are lost. Dadishoʻ is known only through the controversies of his time and the councils they produced.All the councils of the early 5th-century CE church in Persia involv…
Date: 2020-04-14


(2,323 words)

Author(s): Jensen, Robin M.
Depictions of the biblical Daniel featured prominently in early Christian art. Daniel represented the resolute martyr who accepted a sentence of death rather than succumbing to idolatry (Dan 6) and as such prefigured the steadfast Christian whose stanch faith would be rewarded in the next life. The story of Daniel’s captivity, endurance, and unwavering witness shared elements with Christian martyr narratives, not least in the fact that Daniel’s fate – being condemned to the beasts – was like tha…
Date: 2020-04-14


(2,229 words)

Author(s): Jensen, Robin M.
Date: 2020-04-14

Dead, Realm of the

(3,230 words)

Author(s): Denzey Lewis, Nicola
All major cultures surrounding the Mediterranean basin developed some conception of a special realm inhabited only by the dead. The two cultures that most deeply seeded early Christian conceptions of the afterlife – Greek and Jewish – had varied afterlife beliefs; Egypt, too, with its distinct concept of a solar-based journey to the netherworld, influenced Mediterranean Christian ideas of a realm of the dead. Each of these cultures contributed elements to the development of Christian notions of …
Date: 2020-04-14


(3,916 words)

Author(s): Schreiber, Stefan
As in ancient culture in general, death in early Christianity appears as an anthropological constant and as the last threat to human life. Death can be understood as a termination of all (human) relationships; however, the belief in the resurrection of Jesus decisively changed the perspective of the first Christians toward death.The New Testament uses the Greek term θάνατος/ thanatos (“death”) to denote the end of physical life and the corresponding verb, ἀποθνῄσκω/ apothn ēskō (“to die”). The one who died is a called “dead man” (νεκρός/ nekros); the dead body is also referred to …
Date: 2020-04-14

De bono pudicitiae

(1,521 words)

Author(s): Papandrea, James L.
De bono pudicitiae ( On the Benefit of Purity) is a 3rd-century CE moral treatise, generally agreed to have been written by the Roman priest and schismatic Novatian. It exists in several manuscripts, all of which are anonymous except for one that is mistakenly attributed to Cyprian of Carthage (DeSimone, 1974, 160). Novatian’s schism probably ensured that his writings could only survive anonymously or under another name. We do know that Novatian’s major work, De Trinitate, circulated under the names of Tertullian and Cyprian (Papandrea, 2011, 122). However, similaritie…
Date: 2020-04-14


(3,116 words)

Author(s): Lichtenberger, Achim
The Decapolis was a group of Graeco-Roman cities in present-day northern Jordan, southern Syria, and Israel (see Bietenhard, 1977; Lichtenberger, 2003). Although the term implies that in total it were ten cities, a varying number belonged to the group. Most often listed by ancient sources are Damascus (Dimashq), Gadara (Umm Qeis), Hippos (Sussita), Abila (Queilbeh), Canatha (Qanawat), Dion (Tell el-Ashari), Nysa-Scythopolis (Beth Shean), Pella (Tabaqat Fahil), Gerasa (Jerash), and Philadelphia (…
Date: 2020-04-14


(2,724 words)

Author(s): Dunn, Geoffrey D.
Gaius Messius Quintus Decius Valerinus (d. 251 CE) became emperor in October 249 CE after defeating his predecessor Philip the Arab (244–249 CE) at Verona, taking the name Gaius Messius Quintus Traianus Decius. Throughout his brief reign, the empire faced foreign incursions from the Goths and the Carpi in the Balkans, and Decius spent nearly all of his time as emperor back in the region of his birth defending the frontier and trying to repel the invaders. It was in the Balkans in the middle of 251 CE that Decius died fighting the Goths under Kniva.The 50 years between the death of Alexand…
Date: 2020-04-14

Decretum Gelasianum

(1,260 words)

Author(s): Maritano, Mario
The Decretum Gelasianum de libris recipiendis et non recipiendis (text in Dobschütz, 1912) is a document of an anonymous author, attributed to Pope Gelasius I (492–496 CE: see Taylor, 1974–1975; Bratož, 1999; 2000; Neil & Allen, 2014) but is posterior and may be dated t…
Date: 2020-04-14

Dedication, Council of the

(1,650 words)

Author(s): Brennecke, Hanns Christof
In 338 CE a short time after the death of Emperor Constantine, the new emperor of the West, Constantine II permitted Athanasius of Alexandria (Desert Fathers) to return from his exile in Trier to Alexandria (DGAS no. 41.1 introduction).Having returned from exile, Athanasius assembled a synod of 80 Egyptian bishops in Alexandria. This synod voted for Athanasius. This synod sent a circular to all bishops with many documents (Athan. Apol. sec. 3–19).The eastern bishops around Eusebius of Constantinople, who had deposed and excommunicated Athanasius at the Synod of Tyr…
Date: 2020-04-14


(1,378 words)

Author(s): Meyer, Eric Daryl
Deer appear most frequently in late ancient Christian discourse in one of three ways: as representatives of pastoral calm, as figures of the hunt, and as the archenemy of venomous snakes and scorpions. The imagery offered by these tropes gave early Christians fertile material for offering spiritual exhortation, lifting up moral exemplars, and creatively crafting imagery for Christ and God.Deer as Pastoral SymbolsAs the centerpiece of pastoral scenes, deer allow Christian authors to link piety with peaceful, noble, and verdant images from the natural world.…
Date: 2020-04-14

Delphinus of Bordeaux

(482 words)

Author(s): Caruso, Matteo
Delphinus was bishop of Bordeaux between 380 and 404 CE. He was a friend of Febadius of Agen and had correspondence with Ambrose of Milan ( Epist. 87; Laudat Polybium: Cuius rogatu se binas ad Segatium et Delphinum epistolas scripsisse significat; PL, vol. XVI, 1339–1340. Delphinus baptized (see Paul. Ep. 3 in Hartle, 1894a, 17, ll. 2–3) Paulinus of Nola in 389 CE. Five letters dated between 393 and 401 CE written by Paulinus to Delphinus were handed on to us, the letters number 10 (CSEL, vol. XXIX, 57–60), 14 (CSEL, vol. XXIX, 107–110), 19 (C…
Date: 2020-04-14

Demetrian of Antioch

(789 words)

Author(s): Maritano, Mario
Demetrian was elected bishop of Antioch in 253 CE in succession to Fabian (see Eus. Hist. eccl. 6.46.4 and 7.14; Chron. Olym 258.1). He actively opposed the heresy of Novatus, a rigorous heretic as regards penance (see Eus. Hist. eccl. 7.5.1; see Sisto, 1994). In 256 CE the Persians, led by King Shapur I, invaded Antioch and deported the inhabitants of various cities to Persia. Even Bishop Demetrian, together with many inhabitants of Antioch, was confined to the city of Bendoshapur/Gundaisabur (see Peeters, 1924; Chaumont, 1986, 119–125). The bishop continued his episcopal ministry among the exiles and contributed to the spr…
Date: 2020-04-14
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