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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Dadisho‘ I

(1,177 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” [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 (Nestorianism/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 (Councils/Syno…
Date: 2022-09-22


(2,005 words)

Author(s): Džino, Danijel
Dalmatia was a province of the Roman and early Byzantine empires, located on the eastern Adriatic coast and its deeper hinterland. It roughly comprised central and southern parts of modern-day Croatia, the whole of Herzegovina, and Bosnia except for the most northern parts. The territory of modern Albania, western Serbia, and Montenegro initially belonged to Dalmatia, until the Diocletian’s reforms in 297 CE. After that, only the western parts of Montenegro remained within this province. Apart f…
Date: 2022-09-22

Damasus (Bishop of Rome)

(3,252 words)

Author(s): Sághy (†), Marianne | Trout, Dennis
Damasus (366–384 CE; feast day Dec 11) is the first bishop to emerge from the scarce historical documentation of the first 300 years of the church in Rome with a strong profile, an ambitious program, and a momentous religious, political, and cultural legacy. His rough-and-tumble pontificate is a milestone in the post-Constantinian rise of the Roman bishop and the primacy of the see of Rome.The written output of the bishop covers unusual fields: instead of theological treatises, apologetic works, sermons, and letters, Damasus produced synodal encyclicals and …
Date: 2022-09-22


(2,476 words)

Author(s): Jensen, Robin M.
Depictions of the biblical Daniel featured prominently in early Christian art. Daniel represented the resolute martyr (Martyrs) 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 – wa…
Date: 2022-09-22


(2,238 words)

Author(s): Jensen, Robin M.
David is a central figure in much of early Christian literature. He is the youthful shepherd, destroyer of the evil Goliath, singer of songs, prototypical king, prophet, and ancestor of Jesus. Both the New Testament Gospels and Epistles proclaimed Jesus to be descended from the line of David, specifically through the line of Mary or Joseph (e.g. Rom 1:3; 2 Tim 2:8; Matt 1:1; Mark 10:47; Luke 1:27; John 7:42; Rev 22:16). This lineage continued to be emphasized by the next generation of Christian teachers (e.g. Ign. Eph. 18.2). Based upon this foundation, subsequent Christian writer…
Date: 2022-09-22

Dead, Care for the

(6,311 words)

Author(s): Smith, Eric C.
The period in which Christianity emerged was a time of change and exchange in practices of caring for the dead. Multiple practices flourished side by side, sometimes even within the same ethnic and national groups, and ways of caring for the dead fell in and out of fashion over time. As traditional religious practices commonly known as paganism were beset by incursions from eastern religions, traditional burial practices changed from burial to cremation and back again, and groups like Jews and l…
Date: 2022-09-22

Dead, Cult of the

(6,339 words)

Author(s): Denzey Lewis, Nicola
The overarching term “cult of the dead” can mean different things, including reverence for ancestors or their deification, but also ritual activities centered around remembering and celebrating deceased family members. Traditionally in the Roman Empire, families commemorating their deceased loved ones would visit the tomb during annual festivals such as the Parentalia, Lemuria, and Rosalia, as well as on the 9th and 13th day after burial and annually on the deceased’s date of death. Patterns of commemoration appear to have been widely shared among …
Date: 2022-09-22

Dead, Realm of the

(3,244 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: 2022-09-22

Dead Sea Scrolls

(3,423 words)

Author(s): Brooke, George J.
The term “Dead Sea Scrolls” refers to manuscripts that have been discovered since 1947 in the Judean wilderness. Manuscript discoveries have been made at several sites, from Wadi Daliyeh, 14 km north of Jericho, to Masada, near the southern end of the Dead Sea. The overwhelming majority of the manuscript remains are of Jewish texts from the 4th century BCE up to and including the Second Jewish Revolt (132–136 CE). At most sites, documentary texts outnumber literary texts; but the greatest number…
Date: 2022-09-22


(3,924 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 Christ decisively changed the perspective of the first Christians toward death.The New Testament uses the Greek term θάνατος (“death”) to denote the end of physical life and the corresponding verb, ἀποθνῄσκω (“to die”). The one who died is called a “dead man” (νεκρός); the dead body is also referred to by the term σῶμα/ s ō ma. If the de…
Date: 2022-09-22

De bono pudicitiae

(1,526 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: 2022-09-22


(3,208 words)

Author(s): Lichtenberger, Achim
The Decapolis was a group of Greco-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 (A…
Date: 2022-09-22


(2,730 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: 2022-09-22

Decretum Gelasianum

(1,274 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 to the 6th century CE: it may have been written in southern Gaul or northern Italy by a layperson or perhaps a member of the clergy (see Leclercq, 1924, 735–758; Schwartz, 1930).StructureThe document is made up of five separate chapters (see Kleinhans, 1950; Pietri, 1976). The first chapter speaks about t…
Date: 2022-09-22

Dedication, Council of the

(1,647 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 to return from his exile in Trier to Alexandria (DGAS no. 41.1 introduction).Having returned from exile, Athanasius assembled a synod (Councils/Synods) of 80 Egyptian bishops in Alexandria. This synod voted for Athanasius. This synod sent a circular to all bishops (Bishop [Episcopos]) with many documents (Athan. Apol. sec. 3–19).The eastern bishops around Eusebius of Constantinople, who had deposed and excommunicated Athanas…
Date: 2022-09-22


(1,385 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: 2022-09-22

De gentibus Indiae et Bragmanibus

(969 words)

Author(s): Di Serio, Chiara
A short treatise on the lifestyle of the Brahmanical community, attributed to Palladius, bishop of Helenopolis (363–431 CE). This attribution was in the past seen as controversial (Derrett, 1960), but Palladius has now definitively been proven to be the author, as evidenced for example by the fact that the text appears in several manuscripts as an appendix to the Historia Lausiaca.The treatise circulated as an independent text, but it was also interpolated in the Alexander Romance by Pseudo-Callisthenes: we find it in the A manuscript of the recension α and in the C, D…
Date: 2022-09-22
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